My kids are home from college!! I'm pretty sure I'm not the only parent who's not completely enamored of the whole empty nest thing. Though I understand that's usually a smaller group compared to those celebrating this milestone, and having the house to themselves again.
I work at home and my spouse travels for his work so, I've often had the house to myself.
And, even when they were "home," my boys weren't often here, they were busy. They had soccer practices, extra training, jobs, etc... so, for me, it wasn't a matter of getting used to the quiet. I missed being able to just chat with them and see their faces.
When Eli was still dating his former girlfriend, he'd often call and chat with me on the drive back from her school to his, since she was about 90 minutes away. I loved those conversations, we would literally talk about everything. Dylan worked as a valet and would get home around 11:30pm, to tell us about all the funny or weird stuff that happened at the hotel that night. Suffice to say, tourists do some strange things.
And now, thanks to the current Corona Crisis, they're back home again. Aside from the exponential rise in my grocery bill, I am delighted! What can I say, I actually like my kids.
At the same time, my heart breaks for all that's been taken from them due to this virus (and the complete failure of our federal government to take appropriate action, instead of burying their collective heads in the sand, but I digress...)
Eli is a college senior and will complete his education where it started, at my kitchen table. While there is nothing in the world wrong with that, the 72 hours his university gave him to vacate his apartment (while he was still in Florida on Spring Break), robbed him of those last days with his college buddies; the celebrating together, drinking (mama's not blind), the bonding and reminiscing you do during those last days before graduation. They are a group of five or six really great kids, who are all about to go their separate ways and the sentimentalist in me is sad for them to have lost this time, poorly made up for with a short evening of pizza and conversation at the hotel before Eli and Rob left Saint Louis for the last time, bringing him and all his stuff back here.
The blue in his college colors is close enough to the blue of his high school, I'm thinking of using his blue cap and gown from high school graduation, just to take the pictures while we "enjoy" his virtual graduation online (sniff...) Eli, being an introvert, thinks most of this is great and is already planning to have his buddies all come down here for a post-graduation celebration, after this crisis is over.
Dylan, on the other hand, is not an introvert. and being locked in the house without his gaggle of girl friends ("there's nothing going on, so stop asking!"), and being kept off the soccer field, is (his words) "pissing the shit out" of him! He had a tough integration to college life and spent the start of his first semester mostly being angry and surly. But then he found his groove, he found his "people" and was really enjoying the rest of his freshman year. He'd just returned from a great Spring Break and had a week of classes before it was all shut down. He packed up his dorm room and came home, leaving all his plans for the spring soccer season behind him, only to be locked in his house. So yeah, he's rightfully pissed.
All in all though, I have to say they're handling this remarkably well. Dylan has shifted his room around to make it more conducive to being here until August, while Eli doesn't want to get too comfy so he can get a job and leave as soon as he graduates and is allowed to do so. Neither of these scenarios surprises me in the slightest, but what has surprised me, is the kindness and support they're showing to each other. Sibling rivalry has been modeled for them since day one, most especially by my father and the sibling shenanigans that, to this day are emblematic of my dad's relationship with his brothers. So generally, there's a litany of curse words and insults flying around that part of the house and I regularly find myself telling them to stop being mean to each other. Except now, there's laughter, kindness and cohesion as they play video games together, discuss college and call bullshit on many aspects of their current life situation.
They know this sucks. Though they tell me, being locked in here is (for the most part) better than being locked in at school. For one, I don't care if they drink. I mean really, where are they going?? Besides, here they have a pool, their own dogs, bigger beds and way better food so, at least there's that. And, they've come together in the way I'd always hoped they would, but never really had, until now. The shift in their friendship and the "we'll get through this together" mentality they've adopted, is creating a bond I know will last the rest of their lives. And for that,
I am endlessly grateful.
I know we're in a global crisis. This whole thing totally sucks and is incredibly scary. At the same time, there ARE blessings in it, IF we allow ourselves to see them. For me, I've never been more relieved to have my boys at home, knowing they are safe and protected and finally... really... becoming friends.
P.S. The dogs are exhausted...