Okay, yes. Our son “moved out” which officially makes us “empty nesters.” Am I thrilled? Running to Boca in my newfound freedom? Feh! Can my son take care of himself properly? Wash? Eat right? Brush his teeth regularly? Get enough fiber without me? Of course not. You know it, I know it. Only “they” don’t know it.
So for all you Jewish parents out there going through the same trauma, I’ve crafted the list below. If I missed a few, feel free to add in your own in the comments section below.
You Know You’re a Jewish Empty Nester When You:
- make doctors’ appointments on their behalf for regular “mole” inspections, even though you still can’t find your Medic Alert bracelet.
- have a full pantry of Oreos, U-Bet chocolate syrup, Twizzlers, jawbreakers, and Dum Dums, even if you have diabetes (G-d forbid).
- send them articles about people who were murdered on a deserted road in Great Britain, indicating what can happen when one moves away from home. Hey, if it can happen to a Mildred in Ravenstonedale, England, it can happen to your Miriam in Riverdale, New York.
- can’t bring yourself to cancel Netflix, the Platinum TV package, or that fancy Internet provider, even if the last film you saw was Schindler’s List, you think MTV is a “shanda,” and “SPAM” is treif chazzerai.
- make a key to their apartment, do their laundry, leave 10 bags of groceries – and a cooked flanken on their stove -- as a surprise. Hey, with them gone, there’s nothing to vacuum and why bother making from “scratch” for just two?
- have them on speed dial, along with their friends, the fire and police departments, local Emergency Rooms, the National Guard -- and you can’t remember your own number!
- freeze “ready to go” doggie bags of brisket, knishes, kasha varnishkes, borscht, strudel, matzo balls, kreplach, and soup – just in case they stop by and want a nosh.
- leave weather messages on your children’s answering devices if it’s "coolish,” “wettish,” or “warmish” – anywhere. For example: “Mamala, button up your neck. I heard the wind chill in the Rockies is going below zero” – and they live in Brooklyn Heights. You, however, leave your thermostat on “pneumonia” so those chazzers at the power company can’t rob you blind.
- call their teachers and anyone who they ever dated … just to “shmooze.” Make sure they know your daughter is still “available.” G-d only knows what will happen to her if you don’t intervene.
- E-mail or when you use your key, leave little reminder notes, tips, and affirmations, such as “Life is one big tsimmis,” “Your dad and I aren’t getting any younger,” “Call so we know you’re not lying in the street somewhere,” “One sneeze could lead to double pneumonia,” “Did you know a Sukkah could be turned into a bomb shelter?”
- keep their room(s) just as they left them, hang up their toddler clothes, and continue to buy ties and sweaters they hate – for when they finally “mature” and know what’s good for them.
- comment on how thin, tired, farklempt, they look when they visit, to gently “suggest” such wasn’t the case when they lived at home – with you.
- sign them up for the Fruit of the Month Club to make sure they’re eating healthy, even if your primary fruit group is prunes.
- slip them a few dollars when they visit, saying “Sha …” even while your husband has taken from his pension fund to pay for Medicare supplemental.
- ask them if they’re still “Jewish” since they’ve moved away, and insist on proof, such as attendance with you at the shul on Shabbos or reciting his bar mitzvah haftorah.
- blow-up your son’s Bar Mitzvah photo to wall size, and put it over the sofa in the living room, replacing your framed Chagall poster.
- listen to the cast recording of Sunise, Sunset every night, while drowning yourself in Manischewitz.
- warn them they’ll swallow their iPods accidentally without your supervision. After all, look at all those small pieces!
Should any of the above happen to you … I suggest you adopt a third-world child by mail. Maybe in Biafra, you’ll get the appreciation you deserve!