Saturday, July 15, 2006

Mills of the gods

Mills of the gods

My daughter comes home tonight from a three week camp. She goes to another camp tomorrow for a week. I never went to camp as a child.She spends more than a third of her summers attending them. Since summer is the only time I am around her much, that is hard. But it is practice for the dreaded empty nest. Which coined the even more dreaded syndrome. This is misnamed by the way, a "syndrome"signifies "running together" like a confluence. In medicine, a syndrome is a number of symptoms characterizing one disease. The empty nest syndrome,as I understand it, is just being bummed out because your kids have left home. Over the last 10 years more and more of them are coming back and parents have been suffering from being unable to get their kids to "build their own nest". This is, of course, proof that no one is ever happy, there always has to be something to complain about, some syndrome or another. A shrink once told me that the happiest years in your life are "after the kids leave and the dog dies." I tend to doubt that, but at least it gives me some hope that the best is yet to come. Although it is tough sledding for the dog, I suppose.

The reaons that I am a bit doubtful of this is that ,once the kid is gone, you still worry about them (in this case her) just as much, but no you don't get the benefit of seeing them. You don't have to wonder if they completed their science project, because you no longer know if they have a science project. You get to imagine things (usually the worst) and then worry about that all the time.Maybe you start to worry less as evidence comes pouring in that they are competent to handle themselves. But that probably takes years to acknowldge. As my mother goes through her 81st year she still has doubts as to my competence, and probably with good reason.Let's face it. human beings as a species are "fuck ups", there really is no nicer or more accurate way to put it. Some fuck up less than others, but all fuck up. A parent, unlike a child, worries about those fuck ups. The child knows that he/she will get over it. The parent forgets how resiliant human beings are. They probably also feel guilty that somewhere deep down, this fuck up is really yet another manifestaion of their poor parenting. Which often it is. We all fuck up at that big time. But most of us do our best. And most children, I think, understand that. Most of the children do their best. That is harder to accept, they are always your children. Maybe the syndrome is inevitable, maybe not. I do know that the dog will die someday, so maybe the shrink is right.


Blogger Daphnewood said...

I hope you do get to spend lots of quality time with your daughter. My husband really struggles with the fact that our daughter will graduate from high school the same time he finishes residency. He doesn't get much time with our kids at all but squeezes every moment in that he can. I think he is counting on the new "syndrome" that kids live at home longer. It wouldn't bother him a bit if she stayed forever. It would bother me though ;)

8:46 PM  

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