Last week, my sister found a bird’s nest in one of her potted herb plants. And in that nest were some eggs which then hatched. She found it entertaining to keep track of the 5 bald, hideous, scraggly hatchlings. One day, she went out to water the plant and found that some had jumped (fallen?) out of the nest and into the pot. Were they learning to fly? Another day went by, and she discovered that several of the birds were gone.
The empty nest is a rather over-used metaphor. And I don’t actually have an empty nest, but a vacancy in my nest is just around the corner. In about 6 weeks, SuzyQ will depart for college. We have begun accumulating stuff for her to outfit her dorm room. My guest room, now the staging area, is out of commission until she leaves. Having spent 4 years living in dorms, I feel that I have a reasonable idea of what she needs. Still, there is a sense of panic about forgetting those odds and ends one takes for granted at home. Headache medicine, sunscreen, Ziploc bags, clean towels. She is not attending school in a desolate frozen tundra miles from any trading outpost, I know. But minimizing runs to big-box stores will help her stay within budget. Yes, I am an
naive optimistic parent!
I had mixed dorm experiences. None of my roommates became my best friends, although mostly we stayed friendly. Learning to live that closely with someone I wasn’t related to wasn’t easy, even after sharing a room with siblings almost my whole life. SuzyQ has never had to share a room (except for summer camp experiences), so I fear she will have a prickly adjustment period. Of course, with all of the Facebook chatter and texts flying back and forth right now, perhaps she and her intended roommate will ease some of that tension before they arrive on campus. That’s one benefit of social media, anyway.
The other baby bird just got his driver’s learner permit. In my state, teens 15 and 6 months can begin supervised driving. Thankfully, Junior is showing an appropriate amount of fear behind the wheel. Confidence will come, too, with practice, but I also believe in a healthy fear. Especially when he’s driving my car. It will be at least 9 months before he’s eligible to get his license and drive solo. Thank goodness. That’s a lot for a mom to take all at once: one college freshman and one new driver.
I can’t help wondering how some of my friends from school who are just having a second or third child will cope with such things in 15 or more years–at the age of almost 60. If they asked me, I would advise them to spend the intervening years taking good care of themselves and learning how to manage stress. Then they might be better prepared, at 60, to haul their daughter’s belongings up 4 flights of stairs in the quaint dorm without an elevator. And perhaps coaching their teen boy to finesse the brake pedal, ease around corners, and negotiate city traffic will come easily.
Today, my nest is bustling with all kinds of activity. In a few weeks, it will seem a little more bare. The metaphor has to end there because, in reality, my sister’s birds didn’t just leave their nest. All evidence points to a slaughter. The call of the wild and all that. Cruel, cruel world.