A Final Hoorah

Blizzard

I like the word flurry. Flurries are chaotic but benign, exciting but ultimately of little consequence. Flurry sounds fun; it rhymes with scurry. Scurry might be the most playful word I know.

I just ate a Dairy Queen Blizzard, so of course I’m thinking about a McFlurry (MacDonald’s knock-off version of a Blizzard). When she was three, Sophie and I took a father-daughter date—we shared an M&M McFlurry and spent twenty minutes in the playground at MacDonald’s. We had the place to ourselves. I joined her crawling through the greasy, sticky tubes. She, like a small dog, me like a huge worm. When I put her to bed she couldn’t sleep—too jacked on sugar.

The Blizzards tonight were a treat. A celebration of sorts. It was a great day. We finished our farm work early. I had the day off work. A plumbing problem shut us down. No running water. Because of Covid, the local businesses won’t share their bathrooms with our staff. It’s like a snow day in August. Except I didn’t need to shovel snow. I went running, and then I worked on a farm.

As a final summer hoorah, my kids got a gig. A meat-farming family went on vacation. They needed someone to do the chores. Sophie and Eli were recommended by a friend. Twice a day they milk the goats, feed and water the turkeys, chickens, dogs, pigs and a fat, fluffy bunny. It’s a big job. Two hours twice a day. Tonight, Susan and I went along to help. I suck at milking.

At Dairy Queen, the family in line in front of us didn’t wear masks. They stood near the cash register awaiting their order, breathing tainted air everywhere I wanted to be. I found this unbelievable. Selfish, sociopathic. Like there’s something wrong in their brains. Like they’re the people who think Oprah is eating children. Gettysburg is a libertarian town, Trump country. But the residents wear masks. We’re a community that cares for each other, everyone does their part. Except for that family in front of us.

Next Thursday, Susan and I drop off Sophie at the University of Vermont. And just like that, she won’t live with us anymore. Our nest is emptying. If things go according to plan, we won’t see her again until Thanksgiving. She’s not allowed off campus, and we’re not allowed on. Enforced maturity. No weekends at home to regroup. Parent visits not part of her support structure. Extreme. But just as likely, she’ll be home by October and finish her semester on Zoom.

The build-up to the start of college is in its eighth month. As Sophie completed her applications in January, my sadness increased. With school, work, rugby, band and friends, it was like she already moved away. She popped in for a random dinner, and I saw her in the morning when I woke her up for school. My sense of loss felt overwhelming.

Since the pandemic started, we eat all our meals together. We hang out as a family and talk. We go for walks and bike rides. Eat Blizzards. We all gather in the same room after dinner to fiddle with our various devices. I’ve seen more of Sophie in the past six months than I have in the past six years.

I’m ready for her to go. I’ll miss her terribly, but after getting to know her again so well, I realize she has the independence, maturity, and motivation to live alone as an adult. She’s ready, and I don’t want to hold her back. Hopefully, she’ll get through this semester in Vermont, and then the next. And then maybe we’ll actually have a vaccine and things will return to normal. But if she does wind up back at home in a couple of months, well, that won’t be so terrible either.

15 thoughts on “A Final Hoorah

  1. Well said. We have two of our triplets home. They will soon be 24 and graduated just in time for many jobs to be unavailable. It sure is different but enjoyable. They are delightful adults. Grad school starts soon and is mostly online so we will have them a little longer. All good.

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  2. It’s fun to have you child become an adult and your friend! My Older Daughter and I live together for financial reasons and for Ben.

    My Younger Daughter moved out about a year ago. She still comes by often and we text or talk almost daily. She’s a fantastic young woman and I’d hang out with her even if I hadn’t given birth to her.

    Enjoy your new relationship with your daughter!

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    • I’m certain we’ll all be much closer throughout our lives as a result of this. Having Sophie leave will be a huge change, but it will open up opportunities for new interactions with Eli. It’s constantly morphing but so far in the right direction.

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  3. What a big change ahead! Exciting and scary I am sure. Especially now with the new COVID rules and limits on visitation. That is great you are comfortable with her maturity and setting her into the world. Such an exciting time.
    Sounds like a fun gig you kids happened upon. I have always thought I would enjoy the farm life. I think after working it for a week I would probably say “I enjoy the farm life – for one week.” I don’t mind doing work, but that much every day must take a toll.
    I haven’t seen anyone so brazen to not wear a mask around here. I think I would be giving a major stink eye to anyone that doesn’t at this point. Maybe one person in a family – but a whole family? C’mon, people. Let’s just get through this thing!

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    • Last night was the last shift as farmers and they were definitely ready to be done. But they were paid well and I think they both learned a lot. With that family at DQ, I found myself not wanting to engage with them because I didn’t want to be in a situation where I was face to face with them ‘discussing’. I know in some parts of the country, wearing masks is far more rare than it is here. We’ll never get past this thing unless people grow up and try to find the best for everyone, not just themselves. Our next absurdity will be the 45% of the population that refuses to take the vaccine.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank god for cell phones. When I was in college, I talked with my parents once a week on a pay phone at the end of the hall. Now, she’s just a text or a call away. I don’t know if I could deal with the old school set up of never talking with your kid.

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  4. Good luck to Sophie with her freshman year at school. If you (or your wife) are like me, you will cry for 30 minutes on the drive home each time you drop her off at college.

    I was sad for about 10 minutes when our nest emptied, then Bill and I started enjoying our new-found freedom and we have been having a great time ever since until the darn pandemic hit. And I started to run for real. Before that, I just did little 3-mile jaunts a few times a week but never raced.

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  5. Oh, you foreshadow what is to come with nest emptying. It feels so far away, but already, I dread the day. I’ve enjoyed many a DQ Blizzard this summer with the kiddos. I shall savour each one even more now..
    Best of luck to Sophie!

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    • Thank you. Getting to this day was an eternity and a blink of the eye. It’s clearly the next logical step for her, but it’s soaked in emotion. Pride, loss, confidence and fear are some of them. We actually got a blizzard cake this weekend as a goodbye celebration. I eat too many blizzards.

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