Thursday, June 14, 2012

In a (Young Adult) People House

We still have most of the children's books that we got when our kids were young. We read many of these books to the kids over and over. Some books became such favorites that I can still recite large portions of them.

In a People House was one of my less favorite Dr. Seuss books. It doesn't rank anywhere near Green Eggs and Ham or One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. But I got to thinking about it recently as I observed the changes that have taken place in our 'people house' over the years.

We no longer have toddlers. Our kids are spread from elementary school to college. So it's been a while since we read beginner books. Most of the kids have turned into strong readers that can devour novels almost as fast as can their mother.

We no longer have to get up at night with crying babies. Schedules now vary broadly. I roll out a little after 4 AM on workdays. It is not uncommon for some of the young adults in the house to hit the sack only a couple of hours before I get up. That can present a bit of a challenge, especially when one of those young adults loves making (mostly musical) noise.

My kids have grown up with me exercising in the wee hours of the morning. I guess they're so used to it that the noise doesn't bother them that much. We have a room that is dedicated to exercise equipment, but that doesn't stop sound from traveling through the house, even with the door closed.

Many young adults are in a transitional state. They have technically achieved adulthood and expect many of the benefits that go along with that status. But they also expect many of the benefits of being a child. Moving from total dependence to total independence is a tricky dance that is sometimes confusing and awkward for parents and young adults. Not only are the dance steps not well defined, it's not clear when the music will end.

One of our young adults spent the last school year living out of town while attending a university. It wasn't so far out of town that we never saw him. Sometimes he'd be home two weekends in a row. Other times we didn't see him for a month. He has been living at home and doing online courses this summer. So we've had our whole gang at home for the past few weeks.

Before long, one of the young adults will be leaving to serve as a missionary overseas. We expect him to be gone for two years. It is looking like his brother will follow only a few months later, leaving us with just the younger three kids for quite a while.

By the time the older boys return the younger kids won't be so young any more, but they will all still be in school—three different schools. And there's no telling what the older boys will do at that time. We may be coming to the end of the time when all of our kids will live with us under the same roof.

Or maybe not. I didn't move out of my parents' house until I was in my mid-20s. But then I bought a house. Most of my brothers were out of the house at a younger age, but they weren't as well situated financially when they moved out.

We don't want to foster unnecessary dependency. But each child presents a unique case. It's not really possible to treat them exactly the same.

So it's hard to see very far into the future from this vantage point. We will just have to do as we've always done: make the best of the situations as they come along. I suspect that, like clumsy dancers on a dark dance floor, we will occasionally step on each others' feet.

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