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The Un-Empty Nest
by Diane Hartman
A few words for the college student squatting for the summer
Now that summer is upon us and those children we sent off to college have returned disguised as young adults, we offer some words of advice. You might want to slip this letter under the bedroom door so as not to offend their sensibilities.
To: Our Adult Son/Daughter
From: Your Annoying Parents
Re: The Duration of Your Summer visit
We want you to know how happy we are that you’ve re-joined our full house, if only for a few months. Since we’re all adults here, we also want to be terribly clear on what we expect from you so that our summer will be as smooth as the Fourth of July punch you’d better not spike.
- We are the homeowners (henceforth referred to as HOs) and you are the temporary squatter (TS) The HOs ask your indulgence and goodwill in complying (cheerfully) with the following simple guidelines to harmony.
- The Plate, Silverware and Glass fairy has moved. We regret the imposition, but we must ask that you take its place in moving the aforementioned items from table to dishwasher. The female HO must never be approached with these items.
- Breakfast is optional, voluntary and self-propelled. We’ve left a diagram of where breakfast items reside (in case you’ve forgotten) and you are welcome to use them if you follow the first guideline. Again, the female HO must not be bombarded early in the morning with questions like "Where’s the cereal?"
- The male HO admits to enjoying a certain serenity of life, except for the chaos of the revered cat/dog. He requests that bites not be taken from pieces of candy and put back in the box, that "music" not be played over the loud speaker after 10 p.m., that the telephone not be answered "Hey. What?" but actually should contain the greeting "Hello," and that messages be taken if needed for either male or female HO. He also specifically requests the required phone call in the middle of the night for transportation from certain public accommodations, and emphasizes he will not yell, although he reserves the right to be grumpy.
- The female HO, after a period of empty nest adjustment, has realigned your sleeping quarters to support her new hobbies of political research/garden planning/travel writing and you will notice some omissions (stuffed animals, naked model posters, slogans of questionable taste and unused musical instruments). These are gone forever and we ask that you not whine about them. Others (cherished old school books, the male HO’s toolbox, romantic correspondence) are stored in the garage and you may have access anytime. The female HO intends to continue her use of the room when you vacate, so we ask that you tread lightly and add no other decorations.
- Bathrooms are at a premium right now. Because you are on the stay-up-late/sleep-in schedule, problems should be minimal. However, you’re asked to gracefully retreat when there is urgent pounding on the door or shrieks of pain.
- Towels, we must remind you, do not have an auto pilot. They must be returned to racks to dry out, or, surprisingly, re-used a time or three.
Laundry? Again, the tried but effective notion of self-help comes to mind. The female HO gave up this honor shortly after you all completed 8th grade.
- Employment? Shockingly, the HOs do not have the summer "off." As for the TS, anything gainful that requires arising in the morning and a modest paycheck at the end of the week would convince the HOs that hope is not a forgotten concept.
- The HOs will most certainly have guests over from time to time, as you will. We agree to smile and be gracious to yours and not even ask about employment, romantic entanglements, dress, declaration of major, body enhancements, current housing or sexual status. Your part of the bargain is to speak in complete sentences, and not ask our guests about employment, romances, salary, etc.
- Other guidelines include those old favorites like: You use ’em, you wash ’em; you get it down, you put it up; oh. . .you get the idea.
Another suggested guideline, to ensure the happiness of the HOs, would include broaching the subject of how you might help during this time of Temporary Housing, even a warm "let me do that" would so astonish the HOs—there’s no telling what effect it might have.
And, by the way, welcome home!