“How’s it going?’ I asked my older daughter the other day. We were standing in the kitchen where she is house sitting.
She moved in there a week ago, excited and happy to be able to prove how capable and ready she is to cope in the real world. In addition to keeping the house standing and intact, she is responsible for an anti-social cat with anxiety issues and a 5 year old German Pointer with very high energy and a low boredom threshold. Perks include a wall of DVDs in the TV room for her to work her way through, and an above ground pool in the backyard. She could sense freedom.
There is a slight flaw in this otherwise close to perfect situation: she has a summer job very close to our home, not so close to where she is house sitting. The bus goes almost once an hour, and takes 45 minutes to wend it’s way through the back roads, whereas the direct route is not quite 10 minutes by car. Our daughter does not have her driver’s license yet, so her options are the slow bus, walking (slower still) or riding a bike. Not her bike, which she outgrew about 5 years ago, and which she didn’t want replaced because she didn’t like biking.
From our point of view, we thought this would be a good experience for her. She’s graduating next year, and has been coping with cooking and chores at home for years, so we didn’t doubt she could survive in that regard. Because the house is only 10 minutes from us, we can be there quickly if she needs us. We saw the transportation issue as a good lesson in problem solving, and we figured things like grocery shopping, meal planning, time management (like getting up without me yelling) were all part of the experience, so we said go for it. And she did. She’s really coping very well, and we’re immensely proud.
We were standing in her kitchen about 5 days after she moved there. She’d invited us over for dinner (could you bring it with you? I don’t have enough food for 4 people), and a swim in her pool. We accepted, gladly. Younger daughter and I cooked, while my husband did the dog walk with the older daughter and the pointer. Over dinner, she told funny stories about the dog, the nice garbage men who came and got the garbage can from the garage because she didn’t know it was garbage day, how early the cat woke her up, how many hills there were for biking (she borrowed a bike in the end) between there and work. She showed off the stereo and huge TV, and the garden she was taking good care of. We all jumped in the pool later and froze within 5 minutes (we’ve had good weather for about a week, unlike the Midwest, so the water wasn’t terribly warm). Back in the house, kitchen clean, our swim stuff packed, we were ready to go, back to chicken chores and our own dog. Did we want a cup of tea first? Maybe watch a movie? We sensed loneliness…and stayed.
While my husband and younger daughter went down and chose a movie, I helped our older daughter with tea making, and asked my question.
Arms wrapped tightly around me, my grown up 17 year old whispered, “Oh, Mum, this is so hard”.
Yes, my honey, it is.