Leave Us Provolone

Our adult son, Josh, moved back in with us recently. It’s a temporary, but open-ended, arrangement to minimize the impact on his finances while he resets his career path. We’re glad to have him with us during this period, and are doing our best to let him navigate on his own without reflexively lunging for the steering wheel. My own dad did that once — quite literally — as I drove the family car along the New York State Thruway during a blizzard. Conditions were rapidly worsening, and even though I was driving cautiously I managed to go into a slight skid. I corrected, but — as often happens — the car began to slide in the other direction. As I initiated that recovery, my dad lost patience, reaching over from the passenger seat to clutch the wheel and give it a profound yank. His “helpful” action caused the car to spin completely out of control, skate across the roadway, and end up in in a ditch.

So — my wife and I are being careful that our whole family doesn’t end up together in a ditch.

While Josh has some irons in the fire — again, quite literally, since we’ve spent a few pleasant evenings around the chiminea as cooler weather arrives — there’s no firm offer on the table just yet. And speaking of what’s on the table — we are of course feeding him while he’s here. You’d think the effort involved in recalibrating household operations from two to three would be a matter of simple mathematics, at most a 50% increase in material costs and labor expenditures: one more meal serving to prepare, using water for an extra shower each day, etc. However, the reality of the calculus is more complex; an example of microeconomics in action. A few examples:

  • A quart of milk would last the two of us a week; with the addition of a third I am buying it a gallon at a time.
  • Our son arrived with no furniture, some books, and several months’ worth of laundry. The most recent water bill I received had rocketed into the triple digits.
  • The concept of making a double batch of any recipe to serve for multiple dinners is thrown into disarray since leftovers mysteriously disappear overnight.
  • I handle the grocery shopping and maintain a standard list of preferred food items on my phone. However, *someone* has hacked into my device, since I now find myself filling requests for prosciutto, various aged cheeses, and macadamia nuts.
  • I’ve run through a jumbo-sized container of Ajax since I frequently need to scrub the kitchen sink. This is because Josh is usually decamped in our single bathroom when I rather desperately need to go. I’ll let you make the connection here…

Don’t get me wrong — we are happy to have our son with us. He’s a grown, mature man and behaves accordingly. It’s been helpful to have him here to assist with a variety of house projects, and we enjoy his quirky sense of humor. He’s a good cook, managing to make a version of roasted Brussels sprouts that we are actually willing to eat. And it’s been heartwarming to see him reunited with his cat, Miles, whom we have been watching “temporarily” for the last six years.

You may recall a story from the news: many young Italian men live at home until they are past age 30 due to the country’s financial crisis and spotty employment options. A former finance minister in that country derisively referred to these dependants as bamboccioni, or “big babies.” We certainly don’t find it appropriate to label our son that way — he’s supported himself almost continuously since age 17. It’s not uncommon for millenials to go through a career re-evaluation, and his mother and I are pleased to have his back (financially and emotionally) as he gets resituated.

In fact, if anyone in this circumstance should be called a “big baby,” it’s me — because if I keep finding access to the bathroom blocked, I’m going to have to invest in some adult diapers. Talk about leaving skid marks…

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