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Boomerang Back Baby

This year my kids came back for a stopover. Some friends said I was asking for trouble by weakening my perimeters, but I was thinking of my retirement. When I get old, they’ll have to reciprocate and let me come stay with them. You may think it’s emotional blackmail; I think it’s financial planning. With the current economy, I’m on the Freedom 55 plan: I will retire when my kids are 55.

I wasn’t an empty nester without borders. I had stringent guidelines. They couldn’t go to the bathroom in the middle of doing the dishes — I had fallen for that one for 10 years. There were no extracurricular activities in the bedroom, unless they brought someone home for Mama. I liked that they had come home for one last nag. I told you money doesn’t grow on trees. Didn’t I say never to believe a man when he says, We’ll just lie and talk?

What’s the harm of kids back at home? Let’s not forget a time when it was customary for young people to live at home until they got married. Farmers. Italians. Cultures that knew enough not to kick kids to the curb, especially when they had gotten old enough to be of use to their parents. Back in the day, the adult kids were unselfish enough to make sure Mom and Dad would never have to be in the same room together at the same time because, lets face it, kids are the glue that holds many a couple together. Talking about their kids latest stunts bonds a couple together. Once they’re gone, what is there to chat about? Golf handicaps? The remains of their RRSPs? The latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy? That’s how my marriage ended. During the TV writers’ strike, the kids moved out and we were left in a room together pointing a remote at the TV with nothing to say.

Adult children should contemplate the words of Tammy Wynette. D-I-V-O-R-C-E is never pleasant for anybody. Think about it, kids. It’s a scary place out there on the dating scene for your parents. Gassy 50-year-olds with hair plugs doing the bump. Oops, I was having a flashback to last Saturday night at Raxx.

People say that they like having their space back, but in the old days there was no space. People lived in three-room farmhouses and had to share a bed with four people. With the current energy prices, that might not be such a bad idea — think of the money you’d save. Less than a century ago, they had less space and people turned out okay. Now we have 1.5 kids and 2,500 square feet of house and we feel crowded if the fruit of our loins is camped out in the rec room.

Many also argue that kids need to be independent, but we forget that they’ve been in daycare since two and had their own key to the house since they were five. We even cancelled Grade 13 so they could get through life faster. And just because they’re not under your roof doesn’t mean they’re not asking for cash.

Now I know they can return for too long. My cousin Francine’s daughter boomeranged back pushing a baby carriage before she’d even reached legal drinking age. Francine has a kid with a kid in the basement and her aging mother living in the spare room. Poor Francine is on 24-hour call, sandwiched between three generations of people who want her to wait on them. There are endless doctor’s appointments for knee replacements for her daughter. Apparently they gave out after too many childhood soccer games. The other night Francine was up until three in the morning, giving dating advice to her mother. Aunt Marjorie is 76, but she apparently still has a lot Romeos sniffing around in the seniors centre. “Men are never too old to be sniffing,” she declares.

I only had two kids return under my roof for a very limited time. There was a definite shelf life to our reunion, but I found out what good people they had become. As 20-somethings they were actually nice to me. In fact, I believe it’s far worse for teenagers to live at home. Kids should move out when they’re 14 and come back when they’ve stopped sighing and saying, Whatever.

When my kids moved out again, I realized I liked thinking of someone other than myself. I get weirder and weirder living on my own. I have started making small things into big deals. I could run a small country on the energy I am now putting into cooking and cleaning and my animals. At Christmas I went out and bought myself a pet, a dog named Gus. Gus is a Shih Tzu I got from the pound and, because he had fleas, he was shaved in the back. He looks like Kurt Russell with a reverse mullet: party in the front and business in the back. I brag about him. I have 346 pictures of Gus — more than I took of the children. Every morning I say, “Go out to the kitchen and make Mama a cup of joe.” Yes, he sleeps with me but he isn’t allowed on the couch. It’s crazy; I used to leave my real kids with babysitters I’d just met, but with the dog I’m running background checks on the kennel to make sure they don’t have any priors.

At night I sometimes pretend he’s Lassie from that the old ’50s TV show. Lassie knew if people needed her help. Lassie would go and find them in the well. So I say to Gus, “Go get the kids. Tell them Mama needs them back home with her. Go boy. I think one of them has fallen into $25,000 worth of student loan debt and needs his Power Rangers bedroom back.”

Gus is cute, but not that bright. He just stands there not staring at me, then walks around three times, gets up on the pillow and goes to sleep like he doesn’t understand a word I’m saying.

More Deborah Kimmett www.kimmett.ca

Filed Under: Deborah Kimmett

About the Author: Deborah Kimmett is not just a funny face. She knows a thing or two about life. Whether on the stage, or in the conference room, this witty and wise woman knows laughing matters. With her hilarious stories and interactive exercises she ignites, inspires and offers strategies for success. Side Effects: You might get your sense of humor back. Visit her at www.kimmett.ca or on youtube at www.youtube.com/user/DebKimmett

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