The Holidays are over and so is the temporary reunion with my college freshman. What a joy to have him in the nest, to greet first thing in the morning at noon when he awakens and to see little love notes in the form of Taco Bell wrappers regurgitated from our dogs. I am struck now as I mail off the forgotten items today how similar my 231-month-old is to his former 12-month-old self.
1. First: Food
His palette is ever-changing. Remember how she wolfed down carrots and got an orange nose one day and hated tubers the next? This scenario repeats itself 18 years later after you spent $200 on food craved a mere semester ago. Cue whispers of overheard cell phone comments like, “Yea, there’s nothing to eat in the house.” This Summer I’ll just buy $3,000 in Whataburger Cards. Family food selectors are left to read the non-verbal indicators such as rotting bananas and a half-eaten dunkin’ stick left for dead in the pantry. Look sharp because gnawed-on treats in cellophane sleeping bags are the only clue comin’ your way, Little Debbie.
2. Second: Shared Space
Surprise!!! Your house is no longer your own. I remember wondering how my home became a yard sale of Little Tykes molded plastic gardens and work benches. Overnight. Now the living room is all “Call of Duty” couch-compounds and ghosts of Mountain Dew benders past. So, besides extra trips to the grocery and that little commitment called your job, you have to keep the house photo-ready so your kid’s Snapchat background doesn’t look like Syria. Sure, it has been liberating cleaning house in a jog bra and fat pants since August but, trust me, you’ll want to cover up lest your girthy mid-section headline in her own hellish Snap Chat Story.
3. Bad ideas are still contagious.
Even before little ones verbally communicate, you know that two unsupervised toddlers together spell trouble. Just a few:
“Let’s climb the refrigerator!”
“Let’s play beauty shop with real scissors”
“The fish wanted to live in the potty”
Now that young adults are eh hemm..self-supervising, it goes something like this: (and oh so very much worse)
“I bet you can’t jump that refrigerator”
“I cut hair all the time!”
“This is a crazy You Tube- Goldie’s new bowl”
4. And most of all: They still require prayer
I remember praying constantly for my two. Jack’s delivery was too quick to squeeze the fluid from his lungs so he began life in the NICU. Once home, sister tried to feed him a cookie. Then in a few weeks he was hospitalized for RSV. Those were super fun prayer prompters.
I prayed so earnestly for my children before they were born and certainly after. Even now my favorite time of the day remains the wee hours of the morning when I meditate on God’s Word. I love to just breathe, be and pray-lax in His love.
I pray for his continued work ethic and personal safety. Of course I still pray that he will “Make good decisions!” As I used to yell as he walked down the driveway and took off into his 2002 Ford F-250.
I am incredibly grateful that a college education was important to my parents and that they found a way through hard work and sacrifice to send the three of us away to school. It proved a key season for becoming my grown-up self. What a uniquely precious experience of going away and becoming your own person by making all those decisions- good and bad- yourself.
It was a blast to have Jack home and scream-sing certain original ear worms which John has forbidden. (deleted Zimbabwe praise song, you know who you are.) I even watched my son play video games just to hang out. What a blessed few weeks for him to check in, recalibrate and remember why home is such a safe place to fall. As exciting as the launch is, it certainly is nice when they return home. If only for a visit.