essays

House Shrinks

dollhouseA number of recent articles have focused on baby boomers who are shrinking the nest as a prelude to emptying it out all together. Harvey Araton recently described such families in a New York Times piece called When Home Shrinks

What surprised me was how whiny some of the children were about losing their palaces. They had a pool, hot tub, trampoline, swing set, basketball court and each had a room to themselves.

I don’t want to do the “had to walk five miles to school” routine here, but an inflatable wading pool and a rickety badminton net on an uneven yard hardly adds up to what these kids have.

So Mom and Dad decide that with this uncertain economy and the need to put the three kids through college, this was the time to downsize and move to a more affordable energy saving home. Do the kids appreciate this sacrifice? Do they realize that the parents who have fed, clothed and nurtured them for their entire lives are looking out for their best interest?

Hell, no. They’re whiny. The oldest kid who’s leaving for college mind you, says, “We always believed that was going to be the place we would come back to with our own kids for Christmas and Thanksgiving…We kind of felt lied to.”

Reading this, you just want to reach out and put your hands around his neck while you tell him, “Listen, you little brat, nothing in this world is forever and you’re damn lucky your parents are being frugal enough to pay for your education. So sit down and shut up.”

Maybe it’s going to turn out that the small houseworst legacy of baby boomers is the sense of entitlement that they have instilled in their offspring.

When I left for college, I returned on Thanksgiving to find that my former bedroom that I shared with an older brother had been turned into some kind of Barcalounger den of iniquity with a color TV in the corner. They were just waiting for me to scram. Was I mad? A little put out that the deed was done the moment the door hit my ass on the way out, but they earned it.

And I did walk a mile and a half to school. In the snow. When it was bitter cold. But not barefoot.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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