When fledged kids fly back into the family nest…

Kathy_Lette_Home

Is there a statute of limitations on maternal self-sacrifice? What with lockdown, redundancies and a recession, kids are boomeranging back home at warp factor speed. Due to Covid related redundancies and a looming recession, apparently one in four young people between 20 and 34 have flown back into the parental nest.

But it’s just not natural is it? Human beings are one of the only creatures on God’s earth who take their young back when they’re fully grown adults. Let me um, pouch this in no uncertain terms, a mother kangaroo would send returning offspring hopping.

Initially I confess that yes, my kids’ departure from the family home left me grief stricken. I wandered around their bedrooms touching old Beanie babies and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie books, feeling totally bereft. But this ennui magically evaporated once I realised the redecoration potential. Hmmm….how good would their old rooms be as a studio or a walk-in-wardrobe?…But just when I got used to the joy of finding the fridge astonishingly still stocked with food; and my car exactly where I’d parked it and, even more miraculously, full of petrol – they moved back in again.

It’s so gratifying to be able to help your offspring during hard times, but the trouble is, moving back home means they immediately regress to teenager behaviour. My 29 year old son has started hogging the TV remote, dropping wet towels on the floor and standing in front of a stocked pantry, moaning – “there’s nothing to eat in this house.”

Plus there’s no escape as he’s incessantly zooming from the kitchen counter or skyping from the lounge at full volume. Kids move home to save money, meaning they never go out. Well, who would, with free food, laundry services and luxury on tap? When my kids were teens, I was constantly begging them to study and not go out clubbing. Now, I’m like, “Go out! Have fun! Get laid! Stay over… Hey, you’re only young once!”

But, while kidults are happy to be homebodies, they’re very censorious of their parents’ social lives. I was recently ticked off because my kids heard me coming in at 1 am. “You’re mistaken,” I replied. “I wasn’t coming in; I was going out!”

“Isn’t it time you started acting your age?” my son reprimanded when he found me dancing to Abba around the kitchen, chugging Kardonnay. I just bit my lip and wondered if I might be able to find a loophole in his birth certificate.

And the judgemental condemnation doesn’t stop there. My recently returned offspring are constantly interrogating me on every aspect of my environmental consciousness, in particular my reliance on “processed animal corpses.” Plus I must relentlessly police my language. It’s the ‘developing world’ not the ‘third world’ ; not ‘mixed race’ but ‘dual heritage’; not gay but ‘bi-curious’. And it’s important to know the difference because “I’m just having a few mates over,” translates as an open invitation to everyone under 30 in the free world. (Not during Covid restrictions, obviously.)

Listening to five hours of doomf doomf dance music is like having your brain shredded on a cheese-grater. Yes, you can ask them to turn it down, but the trouble is, we clearly don’t speak young people’s language. When progeny reply that things are “lush” and “frothy” or “totes awkie” because they’re being “triggered” – they might as well be speaking Swahili. Young people insist on having their “safe spaces”, but where’s our safe space when getting an ear-bashing for confusing their non-binary pals with the sexually fluid flexitarians?

So, instead of the peaceful retirement I’ve been planning, since March I’ve been a full time linguist, counsellor, domestic slave, taxi service, two-legged ATM and short order chef. Not only is my son’s favorite dish ‘seconds’, but my daughter’s friends wolf down food as though they’re Egyptian slaves, bolstering themselves for a day of heavy pyramid building – which is ironic as they never lift a finger to help around the house. All my female friends agree that since their children returned to the family home, they’ve felt like unpaid PA’s to a group of pushy A-listers. It’s got so bad some are wondering if it’s too late to put themselves up for adoption…

When not under lockdown, I’ve taken to meeting other baby boomer parents in secret to binge on burgers, ciggies and vino while swapping politically incorrect anecdotes – “an Aussie, a Kiwi and a Russian walked into a bar. “What’s this?” asks the bar tender, “some kind of joke?”

So, what’s the solution for trapped nesters? After a vaccine’s perfected, I suggest downsizing, selling their rooms out from under them, and carpe-ing the hell out of diem on a globe trot. Yes we parents love our kids with a primal passion, hell, we’d take a bullet for them – and not just a light graze either, but a full on machine gun strafing. But we’re also entitled to a little adventure before dementia. And don’t worry about losing the love of cherished offspring. Let’s face it, where there’s a will…. your kids would really like to be in it.

For added incentive, do you know what our kids call Covid? The Boomer Remover. So, feel no guilt. When travel bans are finally lifted, get packing, possums!


Meanwhile, if you need a fun read to take your mind off life’s vicissitudes, Penguin Random House are re-issuing some of my favourite novels from my oeuvre, for Christmas. “How To Kill Your Husband – and other handy Household Hints”, “The Boy Who Fell to Earth” and “To Love, Honour and Betray”. Plus of course, “HRT – Husband Replacement Therapy” is also out now.

Cheers for now, little quokkas, and keep safe, sane and sanitised, Kathy

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