Last week I wrote about dropping our two boys off at their new schools – one in San Diego and the other in Missoula, Mont. (If he forgets his lunch, he’s on his own.)
With that development, my wife and I have hit the proverbial and incessantly hyped “empty nest syndrome.” It’s been less than a month, so I can’t really say I’m used to it. At least I certainly hope it gets better with more time. Because, I gotta tell you – so far at least – this stinks.
For one thing, I’m already more than tired of the cheery questions from everyone who knows that our boys are gone and at college.
“So, are you enjoying your empty nest???” Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. As if my wife and I are suddenly that couple in the what-happens-in-Vegas-stays-in-Vegas that sneaks upstairs past their booze-hound of a teenage son who has trashed the house while they were gone. Yeah, just can’t wait to whip up a Viagra-Cialis cocktail now that the house is as empty as a tomb. Nothing like missing family to put you in the mood.
I have to admit that being a non-traditional, heart-on-my-sleeve, cry in the Hallmark store kind of a guy I’m taking this inevitable transition of life a lot harder than my wife seems to be. Granted, she has a full time, five-day-a-week job to escape to; one with real, live coworkers and office gossip and watercooler recaps of the weekend and meetings and distracting things like that.
For the last 14 years, I have worked alone (except for my two dogs – who never remember the punch line to a joke) at least five, often six days a week, writing at a computer or laptop. I most often work from my home office, sometimes from my kitchen table. For all of these years, my weekdays have typically been broken up by driving a kid or two or three here and there. Taking them to school and picking them up. Running forgotten lunches and homework to school, taking them to this or that practice or rehearsal. The usual stay-at-home-parent sort of stuff. Even with my wife also staying at home (which she did until three years ago), I honestly enjoyed being the taxi dad.
I knew which intersection to use to cross Foothill Boulevard because it had the least amount of traffic backup depending on the day of the week. I’ve logged more time than a shuttle driver at LAX sitting behind the wheel, listening to the radio and waiting by the curb outside of Monte Vista, Rosemont and CV High. I learned to instinctively slow down on Ramsdell approaching certain side streets due to “Rose-Monsters” who boldly and foolishly jaywalk right in front of speeding cars on their way home from school in the afternoon.
And once a year, usually about the end of August or the first week of September, I would get up extra early on that very first day of school and – with great flourish and fanfare – whip up my patented, world-famous, multi-colored “magic pancakes.” Those babies were guaranteed to make the new school year go by super fast, make tests easy to pass and friends easy to make. And yes, the effect was made to last until the end of school.
This year the griddle never came out. In fact, it wasn’t until a couple of days after our local schools were already back in session that I realized I had eaten a simple, boring bowl of Cheerios the morning that I normally would have made my traditional magic pancakes. I had to look at the calendar to be sure I had missed the date.
Like I say, I’m still adjusting to this whole empty nest thing. Until I do, one of these mornings my dogs might just find themselves treated to a big stack of very special, very colorful pancakes.
I’ll see you ‘round town.
Jim Chase is an award-winning advertising copywriter and lifetime CV resident. Find him online at www.wordchaser.com.