Parental Guidelines

I think we’ve all faced this problem at some point in our lives: visiting our parents. Last week I stayed nearly six days with my parental units, and I started laughing at how each visit has the same cycles over and over again. Hopefully I don’t need to say how very dearly I love my parents and how much appreciation I have for them. They are my idols, what I hope to one day become. I’d like to think we have a pretty good relationship. But damn, they get on my nerves.

It should be noted that I don’t have any kids so perhaps visits would be different if I did. We might not want to strangle each other by the time I leave. I haven’t lived full time with my parents for a good 10 years. Conversely, they haven’t had to live with me and my habits for that same decade. We’ve gotten used to doing our own thing and doing things on our own schedule.

On paper, not much has changed from when I was a full-time child to my life now. I still wake up late (estimated wake-up is around 10 am), don’t make my bed until I have to, ask my parents to do my laundry, and still have my parents cook for me. The only noticeable change from 10 years ago is that I now drink coffee with them when I wake up. So, I guess you could say I’m just a really big kid.

Here’s a day-by-day breakdown of every single time I stay with my parents.

Day 1: Gushing at each other.
“Wow, you guys look great” is typically the first thing that comes out of my mouth once I slam the door of my car. We gush over how we’ve changed since the three months we’ve seen each other previously (“You look skinnier,” I always tell my mom). My parents then welcome me into the house, my dad volunteers to take my luggage up to my room, my mom presents me with a table full of food, yada, yada.

Day 2: Still in the ‘honeymoon’ phase of the visit.
I ask if there’s anything I can do to help them around the house. “Let me do the dishes,” I insist. Then my mom says, “No, no, you’re here to relax.” We go exercising together, go shopping, talk about each others’ lives, blah, blah.

Day 3: Honeymoon phase is officially over.
Two words: Cabin fever. My parents moved to a great area in central Florida. The only problem is the only people I know in that area are – you guessed it – my parents. Socializing is confined to my dad, my mom and me. Normally that’s not a bad thing. It just gets bad when it’s the third day in a row that we end up having the same conversations and do the same goddamn routine over and over again.

Day 4: We’re full-on getting on each others’ nerves.
I ask my mom where her camera is. She tells me she has no idea. I look at her sharply and say I really need it. She asks, “What do you want me to do?” and gives me an exasperated look (basically, the look can be described as “You’re an adult, find it yourself.”) I get impatient and exclaim, “Seriously?! Don’t you live here? Can’t you just help me find it?” And so this bickering goes on for another five minutes and ends up with me storming out of the room.

This is also the point where I can’t wait to go back to my own home, my own bed (though in my parents’ house, my bed is an awesome pillow-top mattress), and my own routine. I start counting the days until I return home. And, even though they don’t say anything, I know my parents are thinking the same thing.

Day 5: We start to feel bad over how we acted.
No one says anything, but the fragrance in the home is regret. I’m sorry for how childish I acted and how poorly I overreacted. I leave tomorrow so I try to overcompensate yesterday’s bad attitude by not only volunteering to do the dishes, but actually end up doing them.

Day 6: Sadness.
I leave today. No one wants me to go home, not even me. How I felt two days ago is in the far distance. My dad volunteers to help me with my luggage, my mom sends me off with coolers and Tupperware full of food, yada, yada.

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