by Frances Edstrom
After work on Friday, we ran home, grabbed the dog and set out for the Chicago suburbs, where our daughter Morgan and husband Dan live.
Now that the kids are in the ‘burbs, we can avoid the city traffic that starts at O'Hare and doesn't end until you pull into a parking garage in downtown Chicago, or if you are passing through, emerge on the other side of Gary, Indiana.
When your kids are in high school and college, there are very few things you can tell them that they'll actually listen to. Here you are with all this practical information stored in your brain, and no one who cares.
You long for the days of their childhood, when they believed that you were omnipotent, and every day presented an opportunity for you to share your vast stores of knowledge: "Don't touch the stove burner, it's hot." "If you pull the cat's tail, she'll scratch you." "If you leave your bike behind the car in the driveway, someone will run over it and you won't have a bike anymore."
That's when parenthood was rewarding, and gave you a heady sense of accomplishment. Little did you know that overnight you would become one of the world's biggest dummies, and you'd go to bed at night thinking, "Who are these strange people living in my house?"
The first time that our oldest, Cassidy, called home and asked for business advice, John and I looked at each other in wonder and felt the warmth of parenting stirring once more (no, it wasn't a hot flash "” he felt it, too). We might have even done a little dance around the kitchen.
As time passed, more and more often we'd get a call or an e-mail asking our advice on a matter or two, requesting an address, or a recipe. Ah, it was a heady feeling.
Cassidy is now embarking on her second house renovation in St. Paul, and we have found occasion to ask her for help. What a wonderful feeling to have an adult relationship with your kids!
Morgan and Dan have turned their suburban home into their own, painting, decorating, fixing up and planting. It was satisfying to see how they have grown and developed into homeowners.
Their domestic skills seemed so developed that I thought this visit I was witnessing a rite of passage, the handing of the torch to the next generation. John was washing up after breakfast Saturday morning, though, when Morgan mentioned that their garbage disposal didn't work. I asked if they had pushed the reset button, and they confessed they didn't know the disposal even had one! Sure enough, Morgan opened the cupboard, pushed the button, and the disposal worked! What a great feeling it was to be able to make them so happy ("we thought that was one more thing that was going to cost us $100 to fix!") with so little effort.
On our way out of town after our visit, a home fix-it guru came on the radio with a short program "” all about garbage disposals and their reset buttons ("often new homeowners are unaware of this button").
"Whew!" I thought. If Morgan and Dan had heard this two days ago, I would have lost the opportunity to once again be the omnipotent parent of yore, spreading knowledge and sunshine wherever I go. If only I could have fixed the heating element on their clothes dryer so easily, I might have actually made it into the permanent appliance history of their new little family.