A small drama played itself out when I walked in the door yesterday. And I'm sure the same thing is happening all over the country. Our Adult Children are graduating, and returning home, with all the detritus, er, belongings they have collected over years of dormitory living. We are, of course, delighted to be able to provide them a safe berth for however long it takes to find a job, make enough money, move on.

But I don't mind saying: It is a bit of a shock.

When they left for school, those Almost Adults, we wept (some of us did, anyway). We wandered around their empty rooms for a few months, gazing distractedly at walls, picking up their small animal scent in the air. Then we shuffled out, shut the door. Then we remembered that extra closet space we needed. Or that gym we wanted to install. Or the guest room we needed. Or that Zen minimalist move we had been fantasizing about--empty the room, paint the walls a rich color, put in a massage table, a candle, and that's that.

We got used to living alone, or living with diminished company. We got used to putting something down, and knowing where it would be next time we needed it. Knowing, in fact, that it would still be in the same house.

We suffered the outrage of the beloveds when they came home on school break to find they had lost a bit of real estate. But we always made room for them--if, perhaps, a different room. And then everyone settled down.

Until they returned for a much longer, rather indefinite, break. With stuff.

I was traveling last week, and after hours of trains, planes, automobiles, finally got home in the middle of the day. Everyone was out, the place was quiet--and it looked like a bomb scene. A moving day that was lasting a week. I thought I was going to blow a gasket. I mean, doesn't anyone else in this family need serene, orderly spaces? Doesn't anyone else like to get to their bed without breaking a toe? Do we create sticky spots on the table to hold our computers in place?

But I did not pick up the phone. I did not want to yell. I did not want to choke on anger. I did not want to become The Harridan. I did not want the Young Adults to feel unwelcome, because they are so welcomed that part of me wishes they would never leave.

So I picked up my camera. And as I began to snap away, the whole mess began to seem very, very funny. And the joke was on me.

I began to feel like the health inspector. Those overflowing garbage bins! Those unsanitary food preparation surfaces! Those ants!

Yes, the ants. I had gotten a warning call about the ants a week earlier. They were in the house. They were on the counters. They were swarming the sugar bowl. The sons just wanted to let me know they were there when they arrived, it wasn't their fault. Throw the sugar away, I advised. And buy ant bait before we have an entire ant farm living under the floor. Please.

No problem. But suddenly I noticed that the box of ant bait was sitting on the table, unopened. The poison was, as the note Theo had pasted on the back--with a large arrow pointing to the directions-- advised me: "Kind of Upsetting."

I began to laugh so hard that I was crying. Because yes, yes, yes, the ant poison was upsetting. I had always taken care of the ants, and the spiders, and the mice, and the birds in the chimney and the raccoons in the cellar. I had never afflicted my sons with the terrible knowledge of the secret killing field that is a house.

Yes, the ants enter and eat the bait, they take the bait back to the nest, and they pass the bait on to the queen and destroy the entire colony. A bit of marketing overshare. And profoundly upsetting. Particularly when you think about how Mom goes out, buys food, takes the food back to the nest, and passes the food onto her sons. And feeds and nourishes and loves the entire colony. What this box of bait described was a travesty; an upending of the entire natural order on which our world thrives.

I began to see the whole damn mess from the Young Adult's point of view. It is so hard to move. So hard to have your first nest away from home disrupted. So hard not to know what the next nest will look like. So hard to put all your gear in boxes, not be able to find a clean shirt for work tomorrow. One certainly doesn't need a maniac of a mother to make it even harder.

Admittedly, it is not so hard to wash the dishes. But it is kind of boring.

And it is not so hard to throw out the trash. But that, too, is boring. Anyway, I later learned, it's my fault it spills over. The bin is too small.

And why is the garbage pail so small? It is to keep us mindful of how much we throw away, how much we waste.

I had not, however, considered the floor as part of the garbage system.

Anyway, I began to see that I had started living in ways that made it harder for other people to share my space. A person living alone develops lots of creature habits. After all, where can you put down four mugs of tea if most of the table is covered with shells and sticks and stones? Why is it necessary to put the toaster away, if there will be toast every morning? 

It was time for me to make some changes. Time to clear counters, and stash my own stuff, and make room for my company.

Before too long, I had carved out my own corner of serenity. I cleaned a space for my computer on the kitchen table. I sat down to wait for the sons to come home, because I knew they would take care of their mess. But that was boring. So I made their beds, and did a few loads of laundry, and cleaned the sink. Was that enabling?

You bet. It enabled me to keep house for them. It enabled me to stoke the fantasy that they notice that their sheets are crisp and smooth, when they climb in at the end of a long day. And that they care about it. Those guys sure know how to make me feel needed.

And while I cleaned--just a tiny part, I swear, there's a lot left to do--I realized how much I was going to miss the mess when the mess left with them at the end of the summer. So I'm going to cherish every bit of a life well-lived, in all its messy togetherness.

The ants, however, will have to go.


Judith Ross said...

I was delighted to see your tweet which enabled me to get right on this!

My younger son (age 25) happens to be moving home today. He has tired of New York City living, has left his job at a teen program, and is waiting for his final acceptance (we hope) to the Peace Corps.

He has been away for six years so I have been girding myself for the situation you describe.

He loves to cook dinner for us when he's home and makes a mean French onion soup -- what a perk!

And he has been a wonderful help when home on visits with our now 8-month old puppy.

And at age 25, he does mostly clean up after himself. Though his standards are not quite the same as mine (but then neither are my husband's). So, we'll see.

But in the meantime, I am so happy to see this post. It will provide a support group for those of us with nests that are suddenly full again. A place to vent without yelling at the actual culprits. And a place to also share the wonder of getting to spend time with our adult children.

You are providing a fabulous service, that will help our happy home remain so.

Serenity said...

A very poignant and humorous post (coming from someone who reversed the empty nest syndrome herself for about a year after finishing college). I'm almost finished reading Slow Love -- just in the final stretch. Very enjoyable and speaks to the soul in many ways.

Dominique said...

Vent away, all ye righteously neat moms! And thank you for kind words....d

JudyMac said...

Been there, done that, in fact still doing it ....... I wish you luck. It isn't that we don't love them because we growl, but one of these days we will have our own quiet space again.

Tricia McWhorter said...

Oh my. It's nice to know I'm not alone. Made me chuckle as I wove my way around my daughter's overflow (still not room in her room to stash it all) on the way to cleaning up the kitchen.

Gail said...

This was wonderful! I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. The ant thing with the note? I could so see my son doing this same thing!! :) Thanks for sharing!

Darci said...

What a great reminder that we need to make space for others and their unique habits in our lives!

I know I really enjoy living alone and having a place for everything, etc. but it's important not to get "too stuck in my ways" and uppity. And to make space for a possibility of someone else sharing that space in the future. (Enjoy it while I've got it, amirite?)

I got a good chuckle out of the ant massacre portion of the story. It IS upsetting! But also very real. Enjoy those two fellas while they're with you, Dominique. The time passes so quickly.

Jessie said...

My youngest has graduated and come home. My solitary life had exploded with her youth, her energy, her friends and her things. It's an adjustment-- but such a happy one! She will leave again for good and that is as it should be but in the meantime I am going to enjoy every minute!

pve design said...

One of seven, we all learned to accept the ebb and flow of comings and goings and an extra plate. We all chipped in and I never remember blaming anyone for the messes left behind. Try to surprise your son with a mess of your own and see if he might step up the meet the occasion in his own slow way.

Serenity said...

I should have clarifed in my earlier comment that I was the child who moved back in with my parents after college -- hence the post made me laugh and empathize with my parents!

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

I love this post, although I do not have children of my own when my husbands children come to visit, or even members of my own family, although I loe having them and are so sad when they leave, it drives me crazy that that do not clean, cook, or do things they way that we do. But I bite my lip and enjoy every minute and then put everything back when they leave.

I think that many more children are moving home or even parents moving in with their children, with this bad economy. I am sure that it is a challeng e and a blessing.

c said...

I can relate on so many levels. But having just been a "guest" in someone else's home, people I love, and having to go with their flow ... I am reading your post with the other side of the coin in mind.

I couldn't wait to get back to my own home and my own way of doing things. (why do some people store coffee and tea in the cabinet opposite the mugs, clear across the kitchen?) and why is there no towel (paper or cloth) right by the sink?)

My own grown children have came back for a brief spell a few years ago. And same feeling ... bit my lip, enjoyed their stay, and cleaned like mad as soon as they left again.

Summers go by so quickly ... remember last summer with your boys? Here' wishing you patience, and the wisdom you so often display in your posts.

Anonymous said...

I had that with one son and we set boundaries and what he would pay to come back home and what was expected.There is no free ride after college graduation in my mind. He told me when he would complete his tapes (for sports broadcasting) and schedule for sending them out to stations. We set rent and phone. I covered health insurance payments. I loved living alone but we both adjusted and had mutual respect and he appreciated how much I did just because I am the Mom. He moved by the end of the year and has not returned home. He is married and has his own child. He was upset at the time because "all his friends" had a free ride. I just didn't believe in it. He got a total free ride for college with no loans and no debt. That was the gift.

Violet Cadburry said...

I laughed so hard reading this, especially the "kind of upsetting" note...yes, taking care of business can be upsetting, like....squeezing out a watermelon from between my legs that grew slowly into a stomach with teeth whose only words for five years were "how come there's nothing to eat in this house?" I gave my son the book The Good Earth by Pearl Buck to read on a backpacking trip, so he could appreciate that deprivation was character building and Doritos were not a natural food group. Ha, he got me back by using the book as kindling because I told him that paper was a good firestarter in a pinch. Huge Sigh. I am with you, messy is relative and the theory of relative messiness holds that messes are more obnoxious if they smell. Buy some room deodorizer.

Anonymous said...

Your words and descriptions certainly resonated with me. There does come a time that though we love our children with unbounded love, we need our own corners of serenity again. The parenting needs to cease as the children need to be independent so that we can once again be the people we want to be. I had the same feelings after coming home from work and seeing that their dishes weren't even in the sink! Everything has a time and a season, and housekeeping for others is one of them!

Cristina said...

I absolutely loved the mixed emotions you felt coming home and, naturally, the superb way you described them.
touching & funny, it's one of those writings of yours that moved me.

Vic from TeaButterfly said...

Lovely post, so funny and moving!

I am in quite a different situation here, but this made me actually stop, and reflect.

Because sooner or later, with my messy boyfriend, I was gonna start to yell, too.

This reminded me that I love him.

And that I can *calmly* discuss things before we move together and share the same home...

Thank you so much for the reminder !

-Vic from TeaButterfly

Karen said...

I love all your writing and especially your blog - this post about moving-back-in children made me laugh out loud. My son's handwriting is even like yours and he would say the exact same thing about the ant poison! And leaves the exact same kind of messes. My daughter returns for the rest of the summer next week from her year at college . . . I wonder if she will be any neater?

Nancy said...

Those messes drive me nuts. And, once they leave, it's quite a job putting the house back together. I usually round up all the things my son leaves home and pile them for his next visit. It's amazing what I find. I used to find tons of change and dollar bills in his laundry and I'd thank him for my "tip". I won't say my daughter is neat, but she is far more organized!

Anyhow....as for the ants. I'm no fan of chemicals. Have you tried oatmeal? I just tried it myself. Read about it on this blog... http://4whateveritsworth.wordpress.com/2011/05/31/the-ants-came-marching-one-by-one/

Deborah A said...

Oh, I can so appreciate what you are saying here girl! I think after you have lived alone for a while, it is so difficult to have anyone invade your space, never mind it being messy children that you love to pieces!
You are being tested to the limit, so far it sounds like you have a handle on keeping calm and collected about this new situation...I would suggest a call to your doctor for a prescription for some Lorazapam to be taken as needed. 1/2 pill under your tongue will help for those moments when you feel your gonna blow sky high!
Of course if a glass or two of wine does the same thing then get plenty, and imbibe as needed.
Keep in mind that it may be only for a few months, and then they will be off again....
I too loved the note attached to the ant cups,
whats amazing is that he actually read the directions! I can tell you my son would have just opened the package and stuck them god knows where. I think we will be reading some pretty interesting blogs this summer, I love hearing about this stuff that rings so true and so very familiar!

Megan said...

I just love your posts so much. I am so happy to have found you again after H&G.

I am sitting here in a mess-of-a-house created by a 1 and 3 year old and it makes me laugh to think that 20 years from now, I will still frantically be trying to keep things organized and clean.

suzanne rico said...

Dominique, As a mom of two little boys, I rarely have time to read, but this post caught me from the start. Already, I miss them--my sweet, amazing kids who throw their arms around my neck and insist, "I will NEVER let you go", and they are YEARS away from moving out! But I know one day they WILL let go--and can only hope that they will come back, as yours have, to make me laugh until I cry and to fill a little bit of my space back up again with themselves.
Thanks for the preview!

Jane said...

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this post...that was me, just a few years ago. Having the young adults move back into our home was both a blessing and a curse. I missed my "quiet slace"(and I think Mr. OCD developed this cleanliness fetish AFTER he moved out!) It's nice that they now live within visiting distance...and they go home to their own homes.And I have my studio back!!!

profA said...

Ahh, Dominique, how kind of you to make the bed. If you can't lick 'em, then change the sheets and fold the towels.
I hope you and others who responded still feel as sentimental at the end of the summer and I do hope the purported deadline for moving on holds true. In the meantime, it sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with these delightful young men. It's always a work in progress.
Our family is planning a summer vacation in the Adirondacks. 2 oldies (us) a first time preg. daughter and son-in-law, a daughter and son-in-law with toddler and my wonderful 20 year old. What were we thinking??? But as I said in an email about meal prep sharing..."if we can uphold the family tradition of close at the center and loose around the edges" we should have a memorable vacation.
Thanks for your stimulating and thoughtful writing as always!

Karena said...

Dominique you really made me smile as I could picture your face when you arrived upon the mess!! Then the Ant bait! Too much.

We do get very used to our very "own" spaces and then it is a challenge to share! I know you are happy to have them home for awhile though!

Art by Karena

Unknown said...

My dear, you have made me laugh....my son (23) is here for the weekend, and within an hour of crossing the threshold, asked "Would I have to pay rent if I moved in with you?".........what? I just smiled and said "We'll see"....non-commital....smiles

Cass @ That Old House said...

Oh what a priceless post! My two daughters -- 23 and 25, both in grad school, and one about to be married -- are home with us for awhile. One will soon be off with her new husband, the other will be here till she returns to grad school in August.

My house is unrecognizable. Grown children are so BIG, and their spoor is everywhere.

But as much as my husband and I have become spoiled by being alone, I do miss our two knuckleheads when they are far away.

But they could -- just once in awhile -- put things back where they belong!


mary said...

Once more you give voice to so many of the feelings that I've had over the years--it is really hard (yet wonderful) to be an "in between MOM"--relish the summer. I love the photos, especially the thoughts of the trash bin (mine has always been really small--the boys thought that I should have a 20 gallon trash bin in the house!) Mary

Warren said...

Oh Dominique, I 'lose' my now-teenage daughters each week, then gain them back from their mother. My feelings and the messes surge with each change. Although the girls know how to do all those household things you describe, I too find myself savoring the moments when the full dish washer needs attention.

Something like 30% of adult kids now live at home. I read how the Europeans almost expect it, how we here seem challenged by it.

While I have written in the past about being a lousy date when I was young because I was always in the darkroom, I know that these wonderful kids are a direct result of all those past actions and inactions. How blessed we are!

BTW: shouldn't those kids learn to recycle that egg carton, as well as how to kill ants?

Thea said...

this was so hysterically funny! i feel your pain and pleasure, milady. my good news is my 'little' son just returned from afghan. tour of duty, but, alas, home to base in Germany. Wifey gets him first now! but i do plan to go over in Sept. he wants me to stay for a month. so i asked if i would get to cook for him all the time and he said, well, yeah, ma. like duh! anyway, enjoy, enjoy!

Anonymous said...

I had a good chuckle over this one, and I feel your pain, lol, I just have one question, (with two sons in the last half of they're thirties still at home), is it better that they moved out and came back...or never have left and I have never known the pleasure of having them gone?? I'm afraid they may follow me into the old folks home.lol
May god help us all, Sheila

Anonymous said...

Loved that you shared this with your devoted readers! The BEST is the "warning call" about the ants--that the ants preceded the returning boys and they--the boys--ARE NOT responsible for the ants! My sons would do the same including the note on the recycled receipt!

lesliebasham said...

As my daughter leaves for college, it is good to know that I might be ok when she is gone, AND that she might be BACKsoo er than I think!((-:

david terry said...

Dear Ms. Browning,

Having considered the matter since first reading this posting of yours, all I have to say is that those grown-boys of yours should be grateful that they're not camping-out and indulging their tastes/habits in a household managed/run/financed by my mother or any of the women in my extended family.

Somebody would have had a knot jerked in his young tail very quickly if any of the women in my family came home, after 12 long days of work&travel (which just happens to pay the bills), to find that her suggestions were ignored and her kitchen/house was a mess.

That might make a bit of sense if, just as you realized your kitchen was a mess, you saw that one of them had baked a cake to welcome you home.

you're probably a nicer, more advanced person than I am....but (and as someone who was a dorm-master in several fancy boreding-skoolz) I would have no problem looking at a young man & asking him to concisely explain to me why he couldn't spend 3 minutes carrying out his trash, while he apparently had decided that I could spend fifteen minutes cleaning up after him and then carrying out the trash.

Unsolicited Bit of Advice #6,937:

Don't waste time worrying over whether you're a "harridan". It's your house. After college?....they're guests in it. Presumably, you won't act as they've done when you someday visit them and their wives at their houses.

Basically? One needs to pay someone if one wants that person to be one's maid. Maids are not cheap, and they're certainly not be had (these days, at least) for free.

Just tell those boys to carry out THEIR garbage (you weren't there for the preceding 10-12 days, so its not "the" garbage; it's THEIRS). If they object or mewl about the issue, tell them that you're doing their future wives a BIG favor.

I know....this sounds unkind and iredeemably unadvanced.

I read this posting and, recalling a passage from "slow Love Life", thought that someone needed to be told that you can't suddenly and overtly reject all the supposed liabilities of having a "Mother" around "the" house (HER house, actually and factually) and still expect the same woman to provide you with all the assets of that arrangement.

In short?...and as my father once told 14 year-old-me when , having dumped some of my clothes willy-nilly into the washroom and having said "Oh, Florence will wash them..."?...

He said "If she's your maid, then you need to pay her. Your mother and I pay her. You don't. so, pick up after yourself until you own your own house and find a maid who'll agree to pick after you, Little Mister."

I was appalled when he said that, but I came to realize he was right.

Today is my birthday, by the way, so no one is allowed to say anything but nice/pleasant things in response to this posting.

My boyfriend has just given me a blank check to buy yet another new puppy. I encourage all to do the same.

Experiencedly yours as ever,

david Terry

Violet Cadburry said...

Happy Birthday David! I, too, love blank checks as birthday presents but it is sometimes overwhelming trying to fill in all those blanks. If you find you simply cannot deal with the enormity of the task, I humbly offer my services and will not be at all offended if you dump a few in my lap to get them off your hands. I promise to write the requisite thank you card also. I just hope you would return the favor when my birthday comes around.

Deborah A said...

Dear David,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I love all your posts,you know, but thinking about Dominques beautiful essay and being a mother myself....there is always the chance that she may have gotten a little overwrought and maybe exagerated the "whole mess" just a wee bit because she was so tired from traveling. I have done this myself on ocassion,ahem, I hate to admit this and never to the offenders, but yes...a few things out of place and off I go, on a tangent. I, like Dominique was brought up by a french mother where cleaning and order were of the upmost importance. I find as I get older I crave that myself...maybe a little too much. Enjoy your new puppy!

Gail, northern California said...

After our daughter's divorce she moved in with us. Thankfully, she had a good-paying job. However, I told her the money she would have paid for rent and food would have to go into a savings account every payday. She never got used to mom and dad footing the bill, and she never felt as though she was less-than-capable, earning her own way.
P.S. At the end of that wonderful time, she had a tidy little nest egg too and felt fortified to return to the world without mom and dad' shoulders and help.

Eulalia Benejam Cobb said...

The good news: those messy beloveds keep coming back, eventually with little grand-beloveds in tow.

The bad news: the mess keeps coming back as well.

yoga teacher said...

Happy birthday, David! Consider a rescue puppy! The check will be so much smaller, and your reward so much greater!

quintessence said...

Well I am SO living this at the moment. With all four children at home this summer I am fighting an uphill battle in the laundry, car letting & chauffeuring, food shopping & preparation and general housekeeping departments! My eldest son has been living at home this year, working in between college and law school. On the whole, he has been easy and helpful. Then comes home number 2 - the wrench in the system. All of a sudden the laundry has quadrupled (I strongly suspect I am washing clean clothes that have found their place on the floor - his laundry bin - instead of the closet). I now never know what food will remain in the kitchen when I wake up in the morning, considering the revolving door of friends coming and going at teenage hours, trying to keep up with their raging metabolisms. The neater older son is now more lax in his ways and their shared room has become a disaster of epic proportions. And although my older daughter is reasonably neat, it is still another schedule to manage, driver to accommodate and mouth to feed. Give me strength!!

Dana said...

Thank you for reminding me how glad I am that I can provide a roost for my newly graduated oldest until he flys out on his own and how much I miss him when he is not here.

david terry said...

Hey there,

@ "Eulalia", who wrote "The good news: those messy beloveds keep coming back, eventually with little grand-beloveds in tow."

The fact is that none of my mother's 3 sons is, even now, allowed to make messes or interfere whatsoever with the household's long-established routines. That Said?...We regularly stand slack-jawed and pop-eyed with amazement at what she giddily allows the five grandchildren to get away with/do, thirty years after she finished raising us. She's DELIGHTED to spend her days chasing-down and cleaning-up after them. Herve's mother (a strict academician and a renowned perfectionist)has gone similarly ga-ga over the first grandson (he's two now). Her house (we visit about 3 times per year) is a complete, chaotic wreck these days....and she's always laughing her tail off and exclaiming to-anyone-who'll-listen how miraculously "precoce" the toddler is. Herve, his brother (the baby's father), and their father all just stand there....staring and wondering how one small toddler could so completely make a 68 year old woman lose her wits.

(2) I should contextualize this household's reaction to Ms. Browning's posting:

Both of my parents and all of uncles&aunts were raised in an orphanage which my father's mother ran for 25 years. After college, I worked, for something around 15 years, aas a teacher and dorm-master in boys' boreding-skoolz.

both of Herve's parents were raised in very strict, French boarding schools. Herve's grandparents were the headmaster and headmistress. all of his aunts aznd great-aunts were raised in convent schools. After college, Herve worked for 15 years as either a head-nurse or doctor in large, public wards.

In short?...I, Herve, and at least three generations of ALL of our relatives were raised-in and afterwards worked-in institutional environments where the BASIC RULE was "Clean up Completely after yourself after doing anything; someone will be using that spot the moment you move from it." In such environments, very little is your "personal" property or "personal space".

So, I fully expect that most folks would regard our corporate attitude towards "messes" to be more than just a bit freakishly overwrought.

David "2 late 2 change" Terry

Judith Ross said...

Dear David,
A puppy!! Yes! And, I might add, in case you don't already know, that puppy will turn your house upside down as surely as Dominique's visiting sons have transformed her abode.

You may have noticed in my previous comment that I mentioned an 8-month old puppy. She loves to chew! And though she is on the way to being well trained, this chewing thing is bigger than all of us. (FYI, she is a "lab/husky" mix who clearly has some hound and possibly some herding dog in her.)

After living with our beloved 15-year old lab who passed away last fall, we were used to leaving food on the counters, towels on the towel rack, shoes on the floor!

Speaking of the floor, she has a thing for rugs, which I wrote about here: http://open.salon.com/blog/judith_a_ross/2011/04/19/stuff_to_keep

David, enjoy the puppy, embrace the mess, and above all, I hope you had a fabulous birthday.

david terry said...

Dear Judith,

Here's a tip for your chewing , 8 month old dog (although this might be too late in coming).

I grew up with a large kennel which was full of foxhounds and beagles at any given time for about twenty years. Mine is, essentially, a very doggy family.

the best tip for puppy-raising I've ever had was, oddly enough, from my mother (who's never had anything to do with any of my father's dogs; she's always kept her own pair of "guard dog" dobermans or black chows).

Amusingly enough, it's a trick she used with her three sons when we began teething. Most folks in the early sixties simply relied on Peregoric; my mother, quite reasonably, wasn't particularly keen on having a bunch of narcotized infants in her house.

following the advice of the ward-nurse in the orphanage, she simply gave us frozen carrots. I gather we all gnawed happily on them during the entire teething period. they dull the pain and are good for the baby.

I've raised all my puppies (I keep very "chewy" west highland terriers) on frozen carrots. Just freeze the entire carrot....the puppy will drag it along even if the carrot's as long as the puppy.I should emphasize that they get puppy food....the carrots are a treat.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that both I and all my now-grown terriers still ADORE raw carrots. Talk about early imprinting....

P.S. the link to your article (which I wanted to read, since most of salon has become as predictably dreary as old pancakes) doesn't seem to work. Can you check it?

Level Best as Ever,

David Terry

Leah in NC said...

Great Post! You are not alone!

LPC said...

And your kid is really funny:).

peggy said...

Hello. I am looking for details of the Lofty Aspirations event this next weekend. I would like to attend. Do you have any information?
Thank you.

Warren said...

Puppies?! My 8-month old English setter is chewing too. I have found the only solution is not to out-dog her but give her variety. At any given moment she is on to the twisted rope, then the leather, then the cheap Costco critters. I wouldn't recommend the human food angle only because none of my dogs ever beg our food because they have never gotten table scraps.

Also she was house-trained in a carry kennel and is now trained to hang out in the bottom half of same (I took the top off). This makes it easy in the kitchen so I don't have to back and trip over her, and likewise in the car when I just put the carrier in the back seat.

Another cool tip I learned from my trainer: if the dog is pulling constantly on the leash, you DO NOT NEED A CHOKE COLLAR; take a six or eight foot leash, take it back over the back and loop it around the tummy so you end up 'driving' from the back hips. This 'dominates' the dog and really quiets it down. My setter goes totally into an easy heel and I can walk her around a very public park with very simple control.

Barbara said...

mornin', all- interesting how many comments your post evoked, Dominique...a universal, tender nerve has been touched here. At long last, my son and daughter both have homes of their own to mess up. I find when I visit theirs, the deeply ingrained maternal instinct to "clean and straighten" kicks in. Better judgment advises that I ignore this urge, tho' I have been known to push the swiffer around now and again to collect the grimy dog hair off the living room floor.
Happily, my 2 1/2 year old Grandson Issac has learned the "Clean- up" song at his preschool and cheerfully sings with Grammy B as we dutifully put the blocks and puzzle pieces away."Cleeeeen-up, cleeen-up, he croons as we do chores together. Who knew cleaning could be so much fun? Priceless moments, but I know they are short- lived.
As for our urge to clean up after everyone, I find if I sit down at the piano and play a few Bach fugues, (or perhaps the D major toccata), the urge passes. Maybe we can play some four hands some time, Dominique? I have several Gershwin arrangements that have a strangely calming effect - I am right up the road, and my music parlor is always pristine!

david terry said...

Dear "Barbara"....you reminded me of a favorite memory.

A few years ago, I was back home visiting and, having slept late, came down towards the kitchen...where I heard singing.

I got there to find my 70 year old mother (who happens to have a lovely singing voice) sitting at the kitchen table with my three year old nephew. The table was covered with stacked Bank statements, receipts, and bills. Obviously, she was in the middle of her monthly "finances" session.

She was writing out checks and ocasionally waving her pen around like a director, to the hysterical delight of my nephew...as she coached him in the lyrics from "Cabaret"....."Money, Money,Money, Makes the World go round!/Makes the World go Round!/Makes the world go round!"...
I listened for about three minutes in the doorway, wondering if they would ever stop. She finally looked up from her checkwriting, saw me, and announced "Oh, Michael just loves that song...and it DOES make the job go faster...."


david terry

home before dark said...

I hope you have many wonderful moments to cherish. However, I have to say that this transition to adulthood is often better accomplished through struggle in their own places rather than from the "comforts" of home. There are too many old habits, too easy to take the best of both worlds "I am adult and there are no rules for me" while living like a child being supported/housed by parents. It took me two rounds of the boomerang kid to teach me that. When totally on his own, I took away our house keys. It was both a symbolic and real moment. As we are both adults, we have the need for privacy and boundaries. It starts at the door.

Deborah A. said...

Reading all these comments, one can see so many "sides of the coin"...all depending on how your were brought up or effected by your upbringing.
Some of us had overbearing parents, some had absent parents, some had guilt ridden parents and some had indulgent parents. Some parents were very strong, others very weak,and some parents were just perfect.
Some of us copied our mothers style, denying it all the way...others made a conscious to be nothing like our parents.
Don't you sometimes wonder how that all turned out for our children? Are we better parents then our parents were? Did we make the same mistakes only in different ways?

Pamela said...

I am a frequent lurker here but had to comment on this hilarious and touching post. I have 2 boys myself (ages 2 and 5) but I have a feeling I am reading about my future. Your sons are so lucky to have you, and thank you for the beautiful message.

jennifer said...

Like Pamela I feel like I am reading the tea leaves of my future.... My daughters are 12,10 and 6,God help me.
Can't quite get over the upsetting ant bait. I have a similar story that invoves my daughter and a neighbors cat that has decided that he would rather live at our house. Because he is not technically our cat, he has been relegated to the outdoors where he has become quite the hunter. Day after day it has fallen on my shoulders to dispose of the many voles, moles and chipmunks that are left at our door. I have taken great pains to shield my youngest from the crime scenes left by this most adored feline. Last week however she busted me dropping a tiny carcass into a trash bag to throw it away. Tearfully, she let me know how cruel I was for not giving chippy a proper burial. I actually felt a little guilty about it.....till I saw her swaddling the furry perp and cooing sweet nothings into his murderous ears....oh, the injustice!

Elizabeth said...

I love this post and laughed aloud when I saw the photo of the "ant" note! It's good to read this -- my own sons are still very young (ten and thirteen) and we're still very much immersed in the messy years --

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you need a sequel to this blog...your domestic bliss is so attractive that more twentysomethings moved in...on the floor...and then what to do? Throw a formal party? Now that would be a challenge.

helen tilston said...

Dominique, a very interesting post. I must say I feel sorry for your sons who have had to return to the nest to live and wait and hope for employment.This cannot be easy for them.
I congratulate you on taking the higher road and getting on with it and making the beds and doing the chores yourself. Offer it up.
They will remember this time with you.I suggest peace at all costs. It is only dust and once the ants are taken care of all will be well.
I believe it is important to find the entry source for the ants.
Your home must be alive with energy and enthusiasm as these two young men live their lives.

Dominique said...

MANY HAPPY RETURNS OF THE DAY! (I just love that expression.) And now, like your mother, I will go back to humming a little song about stoutness exercises and honey, as I have birthday cake and winnie the pooh on my mind.

david terry said...

Thank you, Dominique.

I had a really lovely birthday, oddly enough. Just Herve and me (I told everyone local to stay away...that he was SICK after the trip to Seville and Ronda, from which we'd just returned). One of our house-rules is that I'm not allowed to lie about myself to him, but I can lie about pretty much anything else to anyone else. I've found that a manageable arrangement over the years.

I expect you and my mother would like each other a great deal, by the way. You're both very pretty (sorry...but it's true), very smart, raised in somewhat unconventional circumstances (by most folks' standards)....and you both have a 110% operating-capacity bullshit-meter.

No wonder you've both been very good at your various jobs/responsibilities over the years.

Incidentally?....you DO have/attract (and, obviously, deserve) smart, engaging readers. Your blog is becoming what Salon.com used to be when it was a very good thing.

It still remains that you need to send those sassy-mouthed boys of yours down to my mother's household for a getaway-rehabilitation-smackdown-Tennessee-weekend.

They'd return to your household...much chastened and considerably less opinionated.

Do tell both of them, for me, that, as far as I'm concerned, you gave birth to them so that their tastes and opinions might be FORMED, not so that those would be "consulted".

Avuncularly yours as ever,

David Terry

Stephanie Sabbe said...

such a sweet post. I just had a baby boy and it's fun to think of what kind of personality he will have. I hope he leaves me funny notes about ants:)

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