About five years ago, there was a movie out called "Failure to Launch." It told the story of a 35-year-old man still living with his parents and — much to their dismay — showing no signs of moving out any time soon.
All together, Doug and I have four adult children (which is an oxymoron, like "jumbo shrimp," "oven fried" and "bureaucratic efficiency"). They all launched just fine. Unfortunately, every now and again one of them will wash back up on shore in need of another big push.
Some people call it "boomeranging" when grown kids ask to come back home to live. Doug and I do not want to be surprised by a boomerang to the back of the head, so we've developed a long-range warning system. It lets us identify fleeting facial expressions, phony-baloney excuses for calling us, nervous finance-related tics, even thought waves.
Basically, we recognize anything that might signal an impending return to the nest by one or more of the little chickadees.
Don't get me wrong — we love our kids and would give any one of them a kidney if they needed it. But, to paraphrase the old Meatloaf song: We'd do anything for love ... but we won't do that.
The current calamities threatening our happy (not to mention clean, uncluttered and relatively quiet) home are twofold. The first, my daughter Heather — at 30, the youngest — needs to find a new apartment within her budget. The operative words being "within her budget." I'm not sure I could find a hamster a home within her budget in the current housing market.
Enter "The Parents," apartment-hunters extraordinaire, to relieve her anxiety (and our own). We're highly motivated (the garage is already full of her stuff, awaiting the impending move), we have the time and we're experienced in discerning the difference between an "apartment" and a "friend's super cool basement in a high-crime area, with no windows, a large rat and cockroach population, and no smoke alarm."
The other ship floating back toward harbor at the moment is Doug's daughter, one of our two 38-year-olds. She's looking for a new job, her contract position having run its course.
Our mission, as we see it, is to offer encouragement, buoy her spirits, give sound advice, pass along any job leads we see online or in the papers, and make sure the guest bedroom is too full of stuff for a person to squeeze in.
We're 100 percent supportive, no matter how old the kids get, and we'll always be there for them ... short of writing any more checks, that is. Doug's retired and I'm semi-retired (not by choice). The First National Bank of Mom and Dad — which in bygone years offered limitless infinite-term loans at 0 percent interest for people we can no longer claim as dependents on our tax return — is out of business.
We sure hope the kids kept copies of our checks for past "loans," for old times' sake. They could be collector's items someday.
All in all, the kids are doing well, and we're reasonably sure that in short order all four will be sailing calm seas that sparkle in the sunlight.
But we won't consider any one them totally launched until the following happens:
They call us to say, "Are you OK? We haven't heard from you in a week! Or, they offer to lend us money. Or, if we need an ear, they listen rather than saying they "can't talk right now" because they "have concert tickets."
In other words, it's going to be a while.
Email Cathy Drinkwater Better at email@example.com.