This summer, as my son prepares for college, I am preparing for the empty nest. As a psychologist, I know what to expect. As a parent, my moods swing from sad to exuberant. And as a comic, life is rich with new material. Like childbirth, everyone has an opinion when it comes to launching the last child. The problem is, their revelations are always the same and they aren't particularly new or devastating. People say it will be very quiet. Apparently, this is a bad thing. They also claim I will only have to focus on myself and maybe my husband. That's a dilemma? After analyzing the situation, I've found plenty of hidden hazards lurking about the empty nest. The top 5 are listed below along with some simple prevention strategies.
The Garage Door: For the last 3 years you couldn't fall asleep until the garage door opened and your teen was home from wherever. Now, when the garage door opens in the middle of the night, do not go back to sleep because there is an intruder in your home. Wake up immediately and phone 911.
Rusty Spy Skills: You've been sleuthing around for 18 years making sure your child was safe. You've listened to carpool conversations without letting on, and honed your olfactory senses to detect cigarette residue and underage drinking. Soon, you'll no longer need eyes in the back of your head unless you get a puppy. A spying hiatus can render your skills useless by the time winter break and college kids roll in. Use it or lose it. Consider a new career in law enforcement, pursue a CSI consulting gig, or buy a Jack Russell.
Wardrobe Malfunctions: Now that there is no teen at home to critique your clothing choices: "Marie Antoinette called, she wants her blouse back,"or "I'm not getting out of the car if you wear that fanny pack," there's a really good chance you will walk into the world and embarrass yourself. Time to buy a fashion magazine or DVR "What Not To Wear".
Declining Survival Skills: No more dodging anxiety or road hazards when a student driver takes the wheel or your car. No more biting your tongue as the prom chaperone who agreed to the "only if you don't talk much" condition. No more jumping heaps of clothing and electronics to give your teen that 1 p.m. weekend wake-up call. To maintain your skills, ramp up the gym time and consider buying that Groupon for the Go-Kart Park.
Technology Meltdowns: There is a strong possibility you could go days without television after trying to operate the Blu-ray. You will locate at least three remotes and have no idea what they control. You will waste chunks of computer time hitting control/alt/delete until you discover screen-sharing which allows your kid to control your computer from his or her dorm room. The good news? At least your virtual nest won't be empty.