When children leave home
By Estanislao Albano, Jr.
Note: This was my column last week of October 2006. I remember the column because what was dreaded is now the reality — the girls living away from home.**
Last summer, I never had it so good in the house. I was a don. I had no house chores whatsoever. The reason was Pia, our elder daughter, did not take summer classes and she took over my turn at the sink. Our nephew Jay, who has started living with us this year, also took charge of the pigpen which I once told you stole some of my time for journalism. And of course, Aglaia, our younger kid who like Jay just graduated from high school, was home as usual.
But of course I knew that the blissful situation was temporary and even as I savored it, I dreaded the coming of the opening of classes in June when for the first time since the kids were born, only my wife and I would be left home. How I wished then that we had another child. With two kids in college, getting a house maid was also out of the question. I was telling myself then that if the house chores strained relations while Aglaia was still home, how much more when only the two of us would divide them?
Let me illustrate. One time when my wife came to the washing area and asked how many times I already rinsed the clothes. I told her twice but that it’s already alright because the water I used is already clean which was correct as there were only a few bubbles in evidence. At the very least, she rinses clothes three times. She told me referring to the water: “Sige man inumem man ngarud.” So I had to rinse the clothes one more time. At another time while we both were facing each other over the basin rinsing clothes, she asked me if I was already turning the clothes inside out which, according to her policy, should be done on the third rinsing. I retorted: “Imbagbagam koma a a nasapsapa ta nalpaskon dagidiay panyo itattay.”
There was also another thing that concerned me last summer – the absence of someone to talk to and through during marital wars. In my experience, the corny sequences in movies where the couple use a third person as a relay for their communications even while they are in the same room is not a wild invention of the writer.
I was thinking then that Florence and I would not survive the first semester alone together in the house but when the kids finally left last June, I was surprised we were able to adjust smoothly. The only major changes actually were that I am now the king of the sink, took over the cleaning of the house and is the only one now responding when my wife wants this thing or that thing done while in times past there was Aglaia to divide it with. Of course there’s a difference in the cleanliness of the house because before the sweeping was done every morning while now it’s twice or thrice a week. The mopping of the floor is also now done every two weeks and if the time affords as the whole task entails at least three hours. The first time I did it, I texted Aglaia that it is really a hard work and she texted back that I should have listened when she told me to train while she was still around.
Florence made things easier by no longer requiring me to help in the washing of clothes except to bring out the hangers and to bring in the dried clothes.
Some days ago, I called Pia and Aglaia through the Suncel unlimited service which is exasperating due to the unlimited number of times you dial before making a contact if any but nevertheless has been very helpful in keeping us in touch with the kids telling them that the semestral break is just around the corner which means I will be relieved from the work for a while soon. But alas, Pia said she will hole up in their room and not to be bothered by anything as she will use the whole break to review for an exam. Aglaia also asked me who is having a semestral break she or me.
But I do not really care. I still manifest my heartfelt gratefulness to the man who invented the semestral break. He must have been a parent who understood not only the need for students to rest and recharge a bit but also the longing of family members living separately for each other. In my particular case, even with the prospect of having to do more chores instead of less, I cannot wait for the semestral vacation because of the opportunity it gives to fellowship and enjoy my children days on end under the same roof unlike now when the contacts are carried on through the cellphone.
Back of my mind, the physical separation caused by pursuit of college education may just be a foretaste of things to come because what if my children will get married to people from other places or that they will go abroad? So you with young kids, enjoy them to the fullest while you may. Time flies so fast that very soon they will leave home for college and for separate lives.