Being the grandmother of a two-year-old boy, I find myself watching a lot of television I wish I did not have to watch. But I find it impossible to say no to those huge, green eyes with their big unshed tears stare up at me, his plump little hand patting the seat next to him, saying: Come on, Gaga. Come on, Sit here.
I take great pride in the fact that my grandson can count to 10 and back, can make appropriate animal sounds (not the inappropriate ones his grandfather makes), and that he can recognize colors, shapes and sizes. These are all things he learned from watching a few hours a day of Children's Television Programing. "Yea, Mickey Mouse Club."
But I learned my shapes a long time ago -- I know my colors. What's in it for me???? I have to admit, after a while the plot wears horribly thin to be and I'm looking for a body part to chew off just to stay awake.
Well, I found myself in that situation about a week ago when I was saved from boredom by a commercial for Huggies training paints. Here's the story in a nutshell: Little Eli had approached his first face-to-face potty experience with some fear and trepidation. As he climbed up the stool and pulled down his trainers (don't worry, it all happened discretely off camera), he waited with nervous anticipation. Could he do it? His mother and father stood by his side for support... Waiting and watching...
Suddenly the front door to the house swings open and Eli and his parents and friends run into the street to find a parade has already begun there in Eli's honor. I'm sure you can guess by now. He did it! He went pee pee in the potty! And the commercial voiceover man announces that Eli's parents wanted to go over the top with a big celebration to usher in a new part of Eli's life. Threre is tickertape and a marching band and even a giant balloon size copy of Eli himself. Hmm...
I don't recall anyone being there the first time I went in the potty. My mom might have been there. I'm sure she would have been pleased, as it meant there'd be fewer diapers to wash. But I don't recall giving our kids more than a pat on the back or a big hug, followed by: We knew you could do it! That was all. No magic train to whisk them off to fairy land. No orchestra to lulled them to sleep. Just the usual hug and kiss and then it was on to the next thing. But perhaps we did it all wrong? Did I underplay it? I knew it was a milestone just as walking had been, talking, sitting up, losing the bottle, etc. But these were all things expected of him. Apparently they weren't expected of little Eli. He became the neighborhood's flippin' superhero just by peeing in the toilet. And to have that big balloon of himself? Sorry. Something way creepy to me about that. First of all, it really did look like him. And secondly, doesn't he have an over-inflated ego enough as it is?
No, I think I shall call off the party planners for now. If my grandson pees his first pee in the potty on my watch, I'll be very proud. But I'm canceling the circus coming to town.
As for poor little Eli? I'm afraid Eli's parents have painted themselves into kind of a corner. If that did all that just for pee? What are they could to do to reward his first poop? I'm sure he's already packing for Disneyland.
In the same way that volunteering at your child's school makes you part of a community and helps you make friends with fellow parents, volunteering at your local library, homeless shelter, or with a civic group will immerse you in a new community that includes neighbors and empty nesters.
Did you know that Laura Ingalls Wilder didn't start writing books until her children were grown and with kids of their own? Take advantage of your empty nest and get involved in something that you have wanted to do and previously did not have enough time to do. Take a class, play a sport, or find a hobby.
If you've only ever done poorly paid part-time jobs while the children were at home (or if raising kids for 18 years was enough full time work in itself!), now you've got the chance to have a fresh start. Or you may have an ambition to run your own business -- the 'encore career' movement is rife with fresh faced entrepreneurs over 50. Now is the time to discover what passions live within you and pursue them to the bank!
Now that you're not responsible for getting a kid to school at 8 a.m. five days a week, explore the idea of exploring. Rejoice in the freedom you haven't had in years and see the world. Feel like seeing the pyramids? Versailles? Living in Costa Rica for a <strike> year</strike> week? Step to it amigo!
If an empty nest means anything, it's privacy. Rejoice in your long-deserved break from acting like a parent and act like an adult. Whether you're married or single, take the opportunity to reignite the sputtering spark in your relationship or get out there and carve out for yourself a love life worth living. It's true what they say, sex IS better after 50.