2006.11.15 Parenting adults is a whole new hurricane

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

I’m feeling kind of empty lately. The last baby bird is chirping away, preparing for departure. Oh, there’s a full nine months before the final launch, but that’s going to fly away faster than she is.

Needless to say, I’m not looking forward to it with great expectation. Dread is more like it.

Oh, it might be kind of fun when showering, to reach for the shampoo and find only three containers to select from instead of 16.

And I’m practically trembling with excitement at the prospect of the “rat” in the drain not visiting us as frequently. Maddie says she never brushes her hair, so I don’t really understand how so many light brown strands find their way down the drain, only to collect en masse into the “rat” that routinely blocks the passage of water.

When she leaves, I won’t find evidence on the handtowel that she brushed her teeth with lots of toothpaste (Why can’t she just wipe her mouth with water?). And I won’t have to keep the midnight vigil, waiting to make sure she’s returned safely home on weekend nights.

But, I’m really going to miss a kid in the house. There’s the noise and the mess, of course, but that’s more than offset by late night snuggling on the couch channel surfing Leno, Letterman, and Kimmel. Reading college application essays and thinking any school will be lucky to get her. Coming home from work and being greeted with the smell of freshly made waffles. Bedtime hugs and kisses.

My children are well on their way and my role as a parent is somewhat superfluous. I’m happy to have three kids meeting with success in their current endeavors. But, dang, I just wish they weren’t doing it so far away.

Ben enjoys life in Miami, loves his job designing for a landscape architecture firm, kayaking in Biscayne Bay, sampling cuisine from many international restaurants. During impending hurricanes, I’ve worried about him. He’s the boy who took photos instead of cover during the near tornado that toppled trees in our yard back in May of 2000, while the rest of the family was trapped at the middle school award ceremony.

He’s now the man who talks about kayaking in the Everglades. He has no fear of alligators or hurricanes, whereas, much as I love his angry sky and lightning photos from 2000, I ponder daily why he didn’t take the job offer in Atlanta.

Rozee called home the other day from school in Berea, Kentucky.

“Guess who will be living in New Orleans in two years?”

“Taylor got accepted?” I said. “That’s wonderful!”

Her boyfriend Taylor had applied to Teach for America, and just found out he was assigned to New Orleans. He graduates in May and Rozee will join him after she graduates the following year. They plan to marry sometime that summer and Taylor will finish the second year of his commitment.

“Oh, no,” I said, after the excitement wore off, “That means I’ll have two kids in hurricane land.”

“Well, at least one of them will know to leave,” she said.

I laughed, imagining her evacuating and Ben hanging around to take pictures of the sky.

And Maddie, Maddie is filling out college applications, trying to figure out what she wants to do, where she wants to go.

My kids are well on their way to adulthood. And I am just muddling through middle age, trying to keep up.

When Rozee came home for a visit soon after becoming engaged, I noticed a card on our entry dresser. Congratulations on your engagement! it said inside, or something like that.

They make cards for engagements? I was quite surprised. Should we have gotten her one?

They don’t plan to get married until after Rozee graduates from college in 2008. Do we put an announcement in the paper already?

“I need a how-to-parent-in-the-later-years book,” I emailed Rozee. “What to do when your sweet little baby girl gets engaged at 20 and you're still thinking she's 18. Protocol for life with adult children. Responsibilities and expectations. etc. etc.”

Do they write books on this stage of parenting? My Google and amazon searches produce unsatisfying results. A few books on the subject, but nothing stellar. Hmm. Maybe the publishing world is trying to tell me something? Maybe it’s time to cut loose completely?

How empty is that?

    -November 15, 2006 
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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