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The Funny Business of Parenting: When kids come back after living in the wild


One day a kid might leave the house to live in a college habitat and return as a whole different species. 

Children who once filled the sunny home with human sounds like cries, whines and giggles are now sound asleep like sloths during the majority of daylight hours. This is due to acquiring the sweet taste of freedom and new jungle-like habits.

Just before twilight, a faint rustling about indicates that these young adults are rousing, eyes cracked open to allow for necessary social media updates via cell phone. If desperate for food, they may smell dinner cooking and trudge bleary-eyed to the kitchen to determine if anything is suitable for consumption. Vegetables or parent inquiries of any kind tend to scare away these skittish creatures and most likely, they will scurry away.

When the moon is high and parents have vacated the living room, they emerge once again and begin whizzing like bats around the house, swooping into the kitchen for feeding time. They are savvy hunters, snatching all of the most coveted high-cal snacks before hopping into a car to prey on fast food. Following the foraging are hours of digital entertainment with occasional raucous howls of mirth. How wonderful: now that they’re away from home so often, they finally get along.

If parents are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of their young in the wee hours, they may suddenly encounter a remarkably chatty child who is now also a wise owl. This scholar is apt without provocation to lecture on a random topic, adding that it is really quite abominable and almost embarrassing that you do not already know such vital information. In fact, if a parent is unfamiliar with a certain groundbreaking work of art, scientific theory, or sociological implication of the flow experience in primitive cultures and its impact on the modern-day squirrel community, it is seriously uncool and actually a travesty to be unaware of such a pivotal revelation.

Meanwhile, it is important to know that reminding said child about household chores like cleaning the dishes stacked up to the ceiling can bring such presentations to a grinding halt. This is because it is now 3 a.m. and you, unlike them, are not a nocturnal animal and would like to get back to bed. 

Returning college cubs often exhibit surprisingly thoughtful behaviors, like reviving a parent who’s fainted from shock due to the new piercings or political views. A word or two of appreciation for the comforts of home can also be quite startling but pleasant, particularly after all the work you’ve done for the last 18 years, give or take, to ease them out of the nest.