By Becky Cook
Probably many families are like ours when the time arrives that our (adult?) children proclaim their freedom. They look beyond the four walls of home and try to “spread their wings,” “fly the coop,” or “leave the nest.” While I have no statistics, I believe there may be a sizeable community which falls into the category of adult children returning home to live after a spell of living in another country, state, or maybe just another town. Employment (or UN-employment,) living arrangements, unreliable car, even serious health issues can be causes for this event. As parents we welcome them with open arms and seek to make necessary adjustments in our home and schedules for as long as required. We could probably all share our stories and be fairly certain that many of our accounts would carry common threads. Hope your heart gets a warm smile while reading this and that it brings forth loving, wonderful memories of your own.
Even as son Steve and I recently recalled the various twists and turns of his comings and goings we had to do some patchwork guessing on dates and places. After graduation from college, his major in technical theater took him to New York for around 7 years. He earned income from side jobs such as electrical and fixit work while pursuing his dream. But he continued struggling to get by, and was unable to get his career launched in the right direction. He had been an outstanding collegiate golfer and had always wondered if he had what it took to make it to the “big time.” He came home for a summer, hit hundreds of practice balls each day, and polished his game to the point he had a scratch handicap. One of the PGA’s qualifying events was being held nearby, so he decided to observe to see how his game “stacked up”. He quickly decided too many others were better.
Of course we were glad to have him home and gave all the support we could. He finally moved to his own apartment and acquired a couple of part time jobs, one of which affected us in a pretty direct way. He was responsible for a 50-mile rural paper route. It involved picking up papers at the designated drop off (at 2 am!) and organizing them for delivery, making sure each customer got the paper on time. One could quickly tire of the hours, particularly with NO DAYS OFF! Substitute drivers were not exactly coming out of the woodwork. So you can guess who got drafted when the paper boy needed to get out of town!
Here’s how it went. He made a cassette tape guidebook (kind of an early day GPS) which provided us with detailed delivery route directions. Quite clever and certainly customized to this route and no other. My favorite entry on the cassette was about the approach to the farm house at the end of a dead-end lane where we were instructed with newspaper in hand to back in beside the paper delivery “tube”, roll down the window, stuff in the paper, and get the devil out of there. . .fast! Family dog NOT FRIENDLY!!! We never had to run the route in bad weather or be surprised by a tree fallen across the road as he did. But, we got a real appreciation of the challenges of the job. (When I mentioned it to Steve recently, he said he believed the stories of that job should be part of his epitaph!)
Anyway, so it went. Beyond the paper boy saga, there were some other come and go trips for Steve to the home environment, even one related to a serious health issue. The thing is I don’t know of any parent who would not willingly jump in any way possible to help their kids get launched in productive and satisfying lives. We realize from this perspective that our lives as well as his are the richer for the small chapter about his spreading his wings and flying back and forth from the home nest to finally get launched in his own place with confidence and peace.