Bathsheba’s off to College

Cartoon stick drawing conceptual illustration of man driving car overloaded by boxes,objects and luggage.

Classes started at the state university this past Monday. Stepdaughter Bathsheba is one of the new students attending and has taken up residence in one of the dormitories. So there is one less teenager in my home. This is a cause for Champagne and celebration. One less teenager to let me know how pathetic and stupid I am in nearly all things, but mainly about fashion, music and food. There will be one less teenager to protect me from assaults of peace and quiet. Bathsheba has told me that I hadn’t learned anything new since the Carter administration and I was leaking information ever since.

Ever since my first-born, Mortimer, attained the age of thirteen, it has been my life’s goal to free myself from the creative misery that teenagers seem to be able to inflict on their parents. I can only imagine that I was the same way. I brought to my parents all the mirth and merriment of a hostage situation. But I think that my parents and I felt like hostages on an alternated basis.

My mother’s curse work on me. “I hope someday you have kids of your own who are just as hard to deal with as you have been.” Thanks a lot, Mom. This was a big win for you.

I don’t think I have any BAD kids. There have sure been a few hard ones that have gone through here. Maybe all teens are hard in their own way. Part of the problem is that I was never given a manual and as I got older I became increasingly more cranky and stubborn. (No, scratch that last sentence. I am obviously too kind and charming. It IS the kid’s fault.)

One of the things that I have learned is sometimes it is best to let the kids that you are so used to protecting, deal with the consequences of their own choices and actions. But sometimes the two parents are not on the same wavelength together. That can make life a little interesting.

About ten days before Bathsheba was scheduled to leave for school, she announced that she had quit her job. “I need to have a little time to myself and I need to get organized for school.” That, at least, was the stated purpose. I said that she didn’t get her summer job until well into the month of June and now in early August she needed time to herself . . . and get organized. I said that was not like she was going overseas to fight a war. But, Brunhilda, having the empty nest syndrome took Bathsheba’s side.

Later, evidence showed that the REAL reason was so that she could sleep until noon, stay out until two a.m. and have to point out the various ways we were victimizing her by not giving her more money. In that same ten-day period, I worked for eight days, so I wasn’t feeling very sorry for her.

So, when I came home and found that there was a near panic to get Bathsheba’s room packed up into boxes and into two waiting cars, I had about as much interest in lend a helping hand as I do buying second-hand underwear at a marine boot camp rummage sale. Unfortunately, Brunhilda did not feel that way.

I was really positive that I did not want to work on any project where Bathsheba was the foreman. Calm and logic are unfamiliar comforts to her and trying to reason with her like trying to put out a nuclear blast with a garden hose. When she starts barking orders, the sound on raking fingernails over a chalkboard sounds like warm harmony.

Brunhilda, however, was already immersed in the job and fully expected my unqualified help. The next exchange between us is not the kind of communication that fosters a warm relationship between a husband and a wife.

“There are plenty more boxes up there in the bedroom. You can help pack.” Said Brunhilda without even looking up.

As usual, being the smart aleck that I tend to be, I said the wrong thing in the women’s eyes. “Excuse me while I wipe away these tears of spontaneous laughter.”

“I said we need to get this done.”

 “Well don’t let me delay your search for someone who can help you. I suggest you start with your daughter who took ten days to get organized.”

“If I can lend a hand, why can’t you?”

“I guess I don’t have the same unbreakable attachment to misery that you have, Dear.”  And then in a misguided moment of candor, I told her that I was off to go to a baseball game with my friends.

At that point, there were only two choices left. I could have changed my mind and starting packing and lifting boxes, or I could leave faster than the lead cat in a sled dog team. I made the choice that any man would have made, — the wrong one.

For what it is worth, I made my point, enjoyed the game, and solidified that doctrine that all men are scum. My point cost me a new set of drapes, and I almost have Brunhilda convinced that the whole trip to the game was the fault of those jerks I have for friends.

And it is still nice to have one less teenager in the house.

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