An empty nest test

Our three cats got yelled at a bit more.

They also got a bit more pampered, too.

And my wife asked me what is my golf handicap. (She hates golf.)

Those were just some of the realities of what was a unique week.

It was to be a week for the boys to be away from us. Or was it a week for us to be away from the boys?

But it became something unplanned:

An empty nest test.

We’re glad parents to three boys, and for seven years, the Valley has been home. That’s about the same amount of time we have left with the boys being full-timers in the house before the youngest one heads off on his own.

Well, let’s ignore for a moment that a cousin still lives at home at age 30. I don’t think one person is enough to call that a genetic predisposition. So in theory, our boys are to be gone by age 20. (Or they’re home to just do laundry, which is essentially gone.)

So this week, the calendar fast- forwarded to 2020 for just a bit.

A lasagna pan for two seemed mite-sized. That’s how our empty nest test started.

A serving that size, the last time I saw it, was rolled around in trays on an episode of “Oz.”

That dinner was even more odd as two of us sat in the final two seats at a table we’ve managed eight around. We squeezed in as if there were six others. Spreading out seemed wasteful.

Three dinners played out like that. Another dinner was takeout. The other dinner — we found two bona fide empty-nesters.

With an experienced couple in front of us, we learned that when they became empty-nesters, she started reading the sports section, just so she could talk to her husband — which was probably of little success as he sat there like a monk. She might as well have read the lawn mower repair guide.

Part of a week apart from the kids meant I got to cut the three lawns they manage (but not get their wages). Three weeks back — when the extended forecast only extended 14 days — it was a great idea. It was a point not lost on one of the lawn customers whose own kids moved out for good 10 years ago.

“I am still not used to [an empty house],” she said. Even without my kids home, she sent me away from her house with a bag of cookies — and a Heineken.

Every day this week when I would come home from work, what the cats had done that afternoon became more childlike in my wife’s descriptions — which would have been just a bit better to accept if they had grown the ability to cut the lawn.

My aunt and uncle are great people — even as they roll their poodle down the street in a baby stroller, wipe his butt with wet naps and buy him ice cream cones.

If my kin are not genetically predisposed to living at home past age 20, worse might be our potential to make our pets into humans when the kids are gone.

I at least would be aware of that potential. It would be less alarming than my wife wanting to know odd things about me, such as my golf handicap.

“It’s a 9,” I told her.

“Oh,” she said, “that’s Justin Timberlake’s handicap.

“But don’t ask me how I know.”

I know how: Empty nester TV watching.

Thankfully, the boys are home today and we get back to normal.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at He blogs, too, on Tweet him, too, at @tfranko.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.