Pssst, Bowie parents, have you noticed that the kid upstairs has been shaving for a very, very long time and may even have some gray in his thinning hair? Have you perhaps wondered if he, or she, has given any serious thought to marriage and children before you're too old to enjoy being grandparents? Have you developed doubts that you'll ever be able to turn that messy bedroom into a sewing room or a spare bedroom for visitors?
If you've suffered such thoughts, don't feel alone. A magazine article claims that we oldies may have our little dears at home until until they're in their 30s. Oh, what joy! It seems, according to the article, that, in addition to a scarcity of jobs in this terrible economy, we've spoiled the little darlings to the point where where they are no longer interested in leaving the family nest and struggling away on their own to to recreate the comfortable lifestyles they've enjoyed under our roofs and with our credit cards.
One of those self-righteous windbag columnists (hey, not me!) once said we are given children to test us and make us more spiritual. Really? Well, I wouldn't mind being tested for, say, 20 or so years, but the testing becomes a bit excessive and the spirituality dissipates as the kiddies verge on the onset of middle age.
"Get out and find a wife and a good job, you bum!" is a more likely response than a softly murmured prayer that the aged child departs the household. And let's face it, parents of Bowie, it's tough being spiritual when a 20-something offspring is on the spring upstairs zzzzing away in the afternoon after having spend an exhausting night on the town with the guys. Doing what? One never knows the answer to that. This isn't Generation X, it's Generation Zzzzzz. It all tries one's spirituality as well as patience, doesn't it?
Those little dears (and they aren't even tax deductions anymore) residing in spruced-up Buckingham colonials and Kenilworth ranchers have gotten used to being spoiled rotten—they rather enjoy it, to say nothing of taking it for granted. Why don't they venture forth and slave away at a mundane job to feed themselves and pay for an apartment shared only with cockroaches, or these days stinkbugs. Forget it, they'll say, we'll just stay with good old mom and dad and spend our menial salaries on things that matter—iPhones, jazzy computers, funny clothes, styled hair and nice vacations.
Let's face it, Bowie parents, you blew it. In the primordial days of our youth, children were given chores to perform around the house before they received their paltry allowance. Today they get their own gold Master Card, sans the chore requirements.
If one of the young adults of 2011 is even asked to sweep the floor, water the plants or even clean his or her own room, he, or she, quickly develops a headaches, backache or even the pox. How can we possibly expect these aging dudes or girls to get blisters on their hands by raking leaves? Hey, they proclaim, "The old man needs the exercise. He's, like, really old, you know," they bellow.
To paraphrase Professor Higgins, washing their hair—which they do every day for an hour—is all they seem to expend effort on. Why they don't make a stab at speeding it up. That way they wouldn't use all the hot water in the house. But dad or mom don't really need showers before heading off to work. What's deodorant for, after all?
Parents for generations have geared themselves up mentally to expect the very worst of teenagers. We were, after all, such creatures ourselves at one time, and know of the painful experiences of those tender years. But we also expected our own teens to grow out of it all, like pimples and surliness, by their 20th or 21st birthdays.
Maybe Samuel Butler knew more than we do when he said, all those years ago, that "some people seem compelled by unkind fate to parental servitude for life. There is no for of penal servitude worse than this." Hmmm, sort of like feeding the mouths that bite you, eh?
We suffered through the kids' years at Bowie High and then college assuming that the strange behavior, odd attire, weird musical tastes and prodigious intake of junk food would be chuckled over as the children reached maturity and we found we had more in common with them—like work, a sense of responsibility and the stirrings of the mating instinct. Perhaps by their 20s.
But now comes a gaggle of psychologists telling us that to forget our assumptions and prepare to have Junior behaving like an otiose high school senior until he's nearly 30, or even older.
Author Peter DeVries must have had a copy of this report in hand when he said, "When I can no longer bear to the think of the victims of broken homes, I begin to think of the victims of intact ones."
It's time for Bowie officialdom to step in. We have regulation covering such diverse matters as the height of shrubs, the placement of house numbers and the parking of unregistered vehicles in driveways. Let's go a step further and put forth a regulation that calls for anyone occupying a bedroom anywhere in the city to be either a pre-school or a full-time student, be gainfully employed or possess a parental certificate asserting that the occupant of the bedroom is meeting all the demands of the parents for said occupancy. Better yet, how about a city ruling that no single adult over the age of 22 is allowed within the city limits after 9 p.m. Well, that's a tad excessive, I know; but only a bit.
These kids don't know what they're missing by jumping forth into the world with a penny in their pockets. I was a married father by 21, struggling away in the military and earning enough to rent a house and buy cheap cuts of meat. We didn't have a car, though I got use of a base pick-up every now and then.
We watched our little black and white TV while the baby was fussing. Going out to dinner was an occasional treat, but limited to a local cheap eatery that served fish suppers and good Scottish ale (we walked).
The fish was good, and the chips (French fries) even better. Now those were good times. Well, we thought so.
Maybe today's kids (kids?) have a better of idea of starting adulthood, but I doubt it. If I had stayed single and at home until past 30, I might still be raising high-school-age kids instead of, thanks to a nice buyout from the newspaper I worked for, sitting here retired. Perish the thought! Now go wake up Junior and tell him off!