When College Kids Return Home For The Holidays

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Siblings share everything -- including Santa's lap.

Slowly, but surely, we've emptied out our home, as one kid after another flees the scene. But, when our second-to-last child packed up and left for university in August, there was cause for immediate concern. Our thoughts turned instantly to our youngest child. How ever would the baby survive without all those older siblings milling about offering unsolicited guidance and mentorship?

After all, the only life this child has ever known is a house overflowing. What would life be like for him with no peers? Who would help him absorb the daily excesses of our signature over-zealous parenting style?

Our fears were unfounded. Our worry was in vain. It appears that after five months of life as an "Only Child," our youngest seems to fully embrace his living situation. In fact, he may even be flourishing.

We haven't had an "Only Child" since those halcyon days when our firstborn was a toddler. At the tender age of 2, she was too young to truly exploit all the inherent advantages; but you can bet after 16 long and frustrating  years of being the youngest of five, our youngest is keenly aware and appreciative of the perks available to him as a "Lonely Only."

- VIP PARKING: Park wherever you want. There are several open garage bays available. Who are you blocking in? Um -- nobody! And if dad is traveling, feel free to pull right up under the Porte-cochere. It simply doesn't get more convenient.

-UNLIMITED FACE TIME: Since there's only one kid left, and no one else vying for our attention, when our son walks in the room these days, we immediately put our books face-down and/or mute the TV. We are all-ears. Ready, willing and able to give a damn.

-TOP NOTCH HOME SECURITY: Long gone is the angst-ridden concern over where to hide restaurant leftovers, Halloween candy or that last bottle of Gatorade so it will be safe from your siblings. Mom's on a diet and dad's not home -- your crap is completely yours.

-APPLIANCE KING: When you need to throw a shirt or a coveted pair of jeans in the wash, no one else's pesky stuff is cluttering up the machines. Gone are the long lines. No need to take a number. You are Numero Uno around here; from the toaster to the microwave to the washing machine, you rule all the appliances in your kingdom.

Ditto all television sets and gaming systems.

What's more, without all the sibs around sucking the life out of YOUR MOTHER, she's more likely to tap into her dormant nurturing instincts and do your laundry for you.

The other day my husband asked our youngest about his lavish new lifstyle. He was quite frank and unapologetic, remarking, "It's payback for all the years of disrespect I endured as the runt of the litter!"

He went on to tell his dad that he might even be dreading the holidays a little. His siblings will be home next week disturbing the peace and asserting their domestic dominance once again.

Or maybe they'll behave like the "Houseguests" they arguably are, deferring to their younger brother as their Gracious Host?

I knew exactly what you were getting at the other day when you grimaced at the length of their semester break. And no, they don't need an intercession semester to stay, "caught up!"

Don't worry Son, we can paint your name on your new parking space and I've found some creative new food hiding places I can show you.

But don't get too cozy -- you're right behind them.

You're at two years and counting...

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