You have no doubt laughed (to yourself) at comments by parents of soon-to-be-college-bound teens who proclaim that once the kid is gone, they’ll be empty nesters. By extension, they assume some of their duties as parents will fall by the wayside.
Hence the chuckle. We never stop being parents. Sure, our progeny may be on their own, but as Friday night’s 60 minute call with Reid will attest, they still need a sympathetic ear, a sounding board or, as Reid said to conclude our call, “Thanks for letting me vent.”
Vent away, kid. That’s what dads are for. And moms, too. The idea of a weekly letter is part and parcel of that concept. My letters have evolved from largely entertainment value in their college years to minor life lessons and reminders that I am here – as is their mother – to provide for at least their emotional needs as well as all those points noted in the paragraph above.
Ellen and Reid are well into their twenties . They toil at self sufficiency and climbing the job ranks. Because they are there and I am here, it doesn’t mean I will abrogate my parental responsibilities. The lengthy phone call was one method, but the weekly letter, with its soft sell approach and short takes on this and that (including my myriad mistakes, perhaps for them to learn by), is a viable part of parenting, too. None of us ever outgrow our parental roles. Completely an empty nester? In your dreams.
Here is last Monday’s letter to the twenty-somethings.
April 19, 2010
Ellen/Reid: The Romaine lettuce that is thriving on the front porch has been quite good with a vinaigrette/soy sauce/garlic/olive oil salad dressing of my own making. The concoction comes out a little different each time but is pretty good. The tomato adds a few inches a week, and the basil, oregano and parsley are growing like weeds, which they essentially are. Ellen, it would be a travesty if you and Tim did not plant a garden in that good black dirt in your back yard. You would have produce to kill for, and it wouldn’t take much doing to have a bumper crop. The old square foot gardening routine would work well for you, and some Heritage red raspberries would be succulent in the fall. Better get moving on it.
Your mom asked me if I’d chip in with some of my time share points toward your impending visit to Tahoe sometime next winter. I’m mulling over the possibility although to be candid about it, it is high time I got off the snide and used Hilton Head or other spots myself. But it is still a consideration for you guys.
The skin doctor didn’t quite rake me over the coals last week but he got his points across: wear broad brimmed hats, plenty of high SPF sunscreen, and limit my overall daily intake of sun. Once he was done scorching my ears with liquid nitrogen, he made it clear I would be on an every-four-months visitation schedule. He’s a young guy and knows what he’s doing. I’m already down the wide hat regiment, but there’s still room for improvement. He is especially concerned once he learned your uncle Ralph had melanoma.
Both of you have short newspaper articles about the insidious presence of plastic in ocean waters. It’s incredible that we can allow small islands of floatable trash and plastic junk to swirl around in the seas. What is wrong with us as a species? I still try to recycle virtually anything that is plastic from the little stoppers and caps on orange juice cartons (plus the paper) to plastic spoons used for my lunchtime yogurt and the thin plastic strips that hold caps atop gallon milk jugs. Call me weird but it’s just a fetish of mine. Same goes for most paper.
Here’s hoping Tim has the coveted new job at 3M by the time you get this letter. He deserves to be in a spot where his work is valued and the company values him. That would be cause for celebration. I said a couple of words on his behalf in church yesterday, but based on the prayers I heard yesterday, our pleas are well down the pecking order. But we shall see. Of course, call me instantly with any good news.
Sorry about the Cubs, Reid. They stink.
My neighbor Mike and I installed most of the floor and crown molding in the bathroom on Saturday morning. My advice is: if you ever try to self-install crown molding, don’t. The cuts and angles are always weird and opposite of what you think they should be. We made more mistakes than you can count. At one point we totaled up our years of college because we couldn’t believe two educated men couldn’t make heads or tails out of the geometry of the woodwork. We went up and down the three flights of stairs more than 30 times, easily, to cut and re-cut the timber. Mercifully, we ran out of good wood and I had to beat a hasty retreat to Lowe’s to retrieve one final board which should be installed tonight. At that point the bath will officially be done and I will total up the final blood loss (money wise) and share the grand (or not to grand) total with you. You guys never did guess. $25 to the closest estimate by this Sunday night. Hope your math is better than mine. How can it not be?