The Continuing Saga Of Co-Habiting With Young Adults

feet-684682_1920I would like to be able to blame Menopause for my recent bouts of insomnia but it is becoming increasingly obvious that my lack of sleep has more to do with the nightly comings and goings in our frat house and the entitlement of our young adults than my hormones. 


I get it. I know how hard it must be to budget for rent when you have Ubers, eating out and full body waxing to pay for, but surely there is a limit to what you should have to put up with as parents, who by rights, should be empty-nesting by now?


They don’t even take us for granted in the obvious way we used to take our parents for granted when we came back home under the pretense of a visit to get our washing done, be fed or for that sneaky twenty from Mum’s purse. But at least when we were their age, we were respectful when we snuck into the house after a skinful after midnight, and as quiet as proverbial mice until we were safely tucked under the doona. We also didn’t bring back the city’s homeless to raid our fridge, terrorize the dog and use up all the loo roll.


Friday night began with a call from Kurt at 1.30am to remind me that I owed him $20 and could I transfer RIGHT NOW before he finally returned home to Hotel Simmonds at 4.30am and morphed into Pete Evans to knock up a batch of Barramundi to feed the five thousand.


Meanwhile, NC, who in spite of years of education and some understanding (I assume) of biology, must have missed the lesson on how to whisper. Most nights when she comes home in the early hours, she marches into our room and throws herself between our sleeping bodies with a ‘let me tell you about my night.’ Other nights, she brings home friends who regale loudly over Vegemite and toast sessions about how awful men are before they switch on the tv to catch up on The Bachelor.


The icing on the cake is the recent behavior of our one perfect child, The Princess, who since she discovered the barefaced cheek of the cat we call The Tormentor from next door, (who prowls our front garden, goading her into what would be a highly ill-matched fight over territory), has started to growl throughout the night. I realize she is trying to protect her parents from the perils of living in such a high-risk suburb (!), but surely she must realize by now that she is no competition for her blue-eyed feline counterpart? Not the sharpest Spoodle in the box, she tries to scare the cat off with some crazy territorial dance that includes zigzagging around the garden and barking loudly while the cat sits on the fence, inhaling on a joint, a knowing smile of superiority plastered over her face.


Hotel Simmonds feels like Faulty Towers at the moment. It’s like we’re living in some black comedy when what we should be doing is going to bed each night with a cup of steaming cocoa ahead of a solid eight hours of sleep. Nighttime activities have changed somewhat since the early years of our marriage and now involve moving the dog from room to room, the fire prevention tactics of checking the oven is turned off several times a night, body counts and concealing alcohol. Home has become part frat house, part asylum, where not even the sight of Kurt shaving a Mohican on his head in OUR en suite in the middle of the night, surprises me anymore.


The Perils Of Letting Your Kids Go


Life definitely gets easier as your children grow up. You get to sleep again, go out again, enjoy free time again, but letting them go also has its drawbacks. When you release them from the nest and the clutches of your taloned feet, it means that they are free to make their own decisions, and sadly, sometimes those decisions are misguided.


I will hold up my hand and admit to you that I am that parent that sends links to Kurt of stories of kids that have overdosed on drugs. Worse, I attach subtle comments, like ‘Don’t make me this mum.’


And that’s why I feel so devastated for the parents of the young girl who was involved in a scooter accident and died in Bali this week. Because as parents of adult kids, we’ve all had sleepless nights and those ‘what if’ moments when our children don’t come home on time or don’t call when they say they will, and in the end you realise that the only way you move forward is to take the fatalist’s view of ‘what will be, will be.’


Anyone who has visited Bali will know that the scooter is the main form of transport over there. Until you’ve witnessed the horror of whole families, (as well as extended family members with groceries),  perched on the back of ONE scooter, you’ve never really experienced Asia. Safety helmets don’t seem to rate highly, either.


It’s the same in other poor Asian countries because the scooter is one of the cheapest modes of transport and add in infrastructure limitations and over-population problems, it makes sense for the locals. Less so for tourists. Certain statistics suggest that one Australian tourist dies on a scooter in Bali every nine days, which is f..cked up when all they are trying to do is embrace the culture.


For the over-anxious, among whom I am a master, ‘never get on a motorbike’ is up there with ‘don’t ever wear dirty undies’ (in case you get in an accident), ‘don’t lie on your CV’ and ‘never take pills at festivals’ on my ‘Non-Negotiable Things I Have Taught My Kids Not To Do’ list, something I have rammed down their throats since I first allowed them to leave the house by themselves at sixteen.


I’m not naive to think that they will adhere to these recommendations, of course, but I hope that the threatening sound of my voice in their head at that ‘shall I or shan’t I’ moment might make them think twice.  


The point is, when we’re not fully informed about the culture of a country, as much as it might be tempting to embrace all facets of its identity, sometimes it’s best to leave TF alone – like you do in countries where they serve delicacies such as fried tarantulas and cockroaches. And I know that goes against the grain of just about everything I said in my recent post here, about overriding fear and doing what you love – so sue me – I’m a woman and can be fickle whenever the fuck I want.


Coincidentally, I’m currently experiencing those early, nail-biting days of Kurt’s first month on the streets on his P plates. Unlike when NC first passed her driving test – when I’ve no doubt she was nudged at the lights a few times for slow starts, perhaps even pulled over for driving under the speed limit – I’ve noticed that the male approach to driving is very different. Their testosterone levels seem to put them back in the Land That Time Forgot and they become the hunter on the road and any brain development that should have taken place over the last however many centuries is temporarily lost.


I suspect that a decade worth of indoctrination from Jeremy Clarkson and his arrogant machismo has not helped either and that Kurt secretly believes he is the Stig.


Each time he takes the car and it is not returned to the front of the house within minutes of his anticipated arrival, I pace the hallway, imagining the worst. Last night, as I waited behind the front door for what I believed would be an inevitable knock from the police bringing bad news, in desperation, I texted his friend to see if he was with him – one of the most shaming acts the helicopter parent can resort to.


‘MOMMMMMM!’ Kurt said when he called me back immediately afterwards, and I could almost feel the heat from his cheeks down the phone line.


‘Well, answer your bloody phone next time!’ I responded, ‘AND NOT WHEN YOU’RE DRIVING!’