Letter from the i editor: The "empty nest"


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The Independent Online

My suggestion last week that you “hug a young person you love today” went down well — although, I should not have had to add the rejoinder “who loves you too”.

Still, the idea of i readers offering random strangers hugs in the street is delicious — it’s a change from being accosted by “chuggers”.

There will have been much hugging of young people this past weekend, and many tears and confused emotions as thousands left for university. But I’ve already written about them. I wanted to spare a thought for the olds, their parents, some of whom will be confronting that scariest of prospects: the “empty nest”.

In theory, what’s not to like? No thumpingly dreadful dub-step music shaking the house, no restricted access zones in your own house, no piles of filthy laundry tripping you up on the stairs, no more morning bombsites in kitchens you thought you had wearily cleaned at 11pm, without reckoning on the 4am post-nightclub munchies, no more wide-eyed raids on your wallet: “Only 20 quid, Daddy, just in case. I’ll pay you back.”

Who am I kidding? You’ll miss it all: inane banter around the breakfast table; bright-eyed friends filling your living room with youthful enthusiasm; the sudden, soaring joy of an appreciative word from your otherwise Neanderthal son; a shared confidence with your increasingly secretive daughter, briefly giving you an entrée into her sisterhood of BFFs; and yes, the gentle mocking of you olds.

They’ll be back (with their laundry) for “reading” week sooner than you know, and then it’s Christmas and you’ll be in the comforting same old, same old. But if that seems a long way away this empty-nest Monday, and if you can’t hug that one you love (honey), hug the other empty-nester you’re with. Job well done.