As each of my children has grown, there has been a tearful goodbye, and, once the door had been closed and locked behind them, a celebration my wife and I have shared in silence, through glances that scream joy and gratitude. “Another one out.”, was never said, but my how it was celebrated.
“We have to talk.”, my wife said the other night. “What do you want first, the good news or the bad news?”
“I’d prefer no news at all.”, I answered
“Well, that’s not an option.”, she said, as she sat down beside me, and turned the television off.
“The good news is”, she began, “your daughter is breaking up with Rick.”
“How is that good news?”, I asked. “I like Rick.”
“Well, there really is no good news, then.”, she replied. “It’s just bad news, and even worse news. She’s moving back home.”
“Hell, no.”, I shouted. “Don’t we have some kind of no return policy?”
“I’m afraid not.”, I was informed. “She needs you to rent a truck and help her move.”
“When does it end?”, I asked, although I didn’t really expect an answer. And yet I got one.
“She’s our daughter.”, came the reply.
I was well aware of who my children were, but I really thought that by the time I was old enough to start collecting Canada Pension, my obligations to them would have long since gone. I truly believed that life would return to that blissful, euphoria when my wife and I free of responsibility and obligation. A time when I could do whatever I wanted to. And now, the dream was over. Just like that, she was moving back home.
“They’re like a virus.”, I stated. “Just when you think you’re over it, it comes back, and starts all over again.”
“It won’t be for long.”, my wife continued, “It’s only until she gets back on her feet.”
“Right.”, I said, with an obvious hint of sarcasm. “She was already on her feet, and that took 25 years. I really can’t wait that long to wait for her to leave again.”
“It will be fine.”, I was told. “You’ll see.”
“I hope so.”, I said. “And let her know that I stopped wearing pants in the house.”
“She knows.”, my wife replied. “Everybody knows. And while we on the subject, we have to get her a bed, and some furniture for her room.”
“She doesn’t have a room.”, I replied. “Not for two and a half years.”
“Well”, my wife advised, “her old room. She will be moving back into her old room.”
“That’s my office.”, I stated.
“I know.”, came the response. “And it was very nice. But now it is being converted into a bedroom for your daughter.”
“Which I have to refurnish.”, I added.
“And by the way.”, my wife went on, “We’re going to meet with her on Sunday and talk about what’s going on with her.”
It was raining on Sunday, quite pathetically ironic I thought, and as we found my daughter in the coffee shop, I was reminded once again to behave myself, which really meant that I was to not say a word. My wife and daughter began their conversation as I sat quietly, drinking a double cappuccino. They spoke at length about making better choices, and thinking things through, and whether she was sure that whatever was going on between her and Rick was irreparable. Suddenly, my wife was overwhelmed by a craving for pastry, and excused herself to stand in line and purchase herself a Boston cream donut. She did not, by the way, ask if anyone else had wanted something. I took the opportunity to instruct my daughter that she should try and make it work with Rick. I told her I loved her, and she could always come home, but she needed to be sure. She got a little teary eyed and when my wife returned, she noticed. “What did you do?”, she accused me. “What did you say to her?”
“Not a thing.”, I replied. “We were just talking.” On the drive home my wife informed me that there were problems in the bedroom between Rick and my daughter. “I don’t want to hear this.”, I stated. “We agreed that we wouldn’t share that kind of information. This is why I want them out of the house. I don’t want to know anything. Let them live their lives, and leave me to age peacefully in my naivete.”
“Well”, my wife added, “She’s decided to stay put for now. She’s going to tell Rick what’s going on, and give it 3 months to see if anything changes. She’s going to look for a job, and hope to find a place of her own.”
“What happened to her job?”, I asked.
“Oh, she quit the clinic 3 months ago.”, my wife informed me.”
“It just gets better and better.”, I stated.
“Anyway”, she continued, “you can keep your office, at least for a little while. And you may as well leave your pants off.”
“Is that an invitation?”, I asked.
“Why not.”, she answered. “You’re a lot of work and a lot of trouble, but never in the bedroom.”