- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (movie)
A criminal (McMurphy) pleads insanity and is admitted to a mental institution, where he rebels against the oppressive nurse (Ratched) and rallies up the scared patients.
a style of child rearing in which an overprotective mother or father discourages a child’s independence by being too involved in the child’s life:
In typical helicopter parenting, a mother or father swoops in at any sign of challenge or discomfort.
In today’s story, I have changed the names to protect the innocent. For the sake of anonymity, the following names will be used:
McMurphy (The free spirited and immensely bored, returning college student)
Nurse Ratched (Helicopter parent now faced with an unhappy inmate, I mean returning college student)
The other morning, I completed my morning routine by scrolling through Facebook to catch up on the latest news and gossip. It was there that I came across the inspiration for this post.
I belong to a closed group for parents of students in my son’s college. Most times, I find this site to be filled with helpful reminders of the things that a 20 year old male inadvertently forgets to share with his parents. But this time, it was a post from Nurse Ratched that sparked my curiosity. The post went something like this…
McMurphy can’t wait to get back to campus. This makes me sad…It’s hard to entertain her during the campus closure.
Well, do you know what I did next? I looked at the comments, of course. Truthfully, I expected to see remarks such as, “It is not your job to keep your adult daughter entertained.” But no, not this group! Instead everyone agreed with Nurse Ratched! Comments included setting up Zoom meetings and sympathetic statements to not take her daughter’s sadness personally.
Perplexed, I began to reflect about my own empathetic parenting moments. First of all, I do not see myself as a helicopter parent, but my children may disagree. I have understood my children’s frustrations with campuses being closed, internships being put on hold, the difficulty with long distant relationships and the absence of other McMurphys to socialize with on demand. That said, I never felt it was my job to entertain my adult children. They are capable of “entertaining” themselves, thank you very much!
And then I thought about all of the college parents who have McMurphys flying back into the nest. What about our sadness?! I thought about me and my husband, and the countless other middle-aged (ouch, that one hurt!) adults who, just a month ago, were enjoying the carefree lives of an empty nester. I thought about the clean house we used to have. I remembered the lack of laundry. “What’s for dinner?” was never uttered. Our grocery bill was double digits. We controlled the remote. Quiet…everything was quiet!
Then, I was brought back to earth and realized that we all (Nurse Ratched and McMurphy) are adjusting to our “temporary normal”. This is an opportunity that we should embrace rather than lament, so here is my advice to make the most of the time you have together now.:
If you are a McMurphy, show some consideration to your new roommates, (aka Nurse Ratched). Remember, this is as much of an adjustment for them as it is for you. They are not used to your nocturnal behaviors. Their cafeteria is not open for all you can eat buffets at your beck and call. You will not ruin your three week old manicure by washing a few dishes or emptying the dishwasher. You can be social with adults born in the 1900s. It will not harm your reputation on social media!
If you find yourself with a full nest again, I realized there is nothing wrong with putting a little effort into entertaining the people in your home. Make memories, have family dinners, play a game together, watch a movie, go for a walk, listen…you know what to do. You may never get a chance like this with them again. Remember, when this is over, they will fly away from your Cuckoo’s Nest, and your bathroom vanity will be clean again.
Most importantly, if you know someone who lives alone, reach out to them. They are the ones who are probably suffering the most from this social isolation. A simple phone call or Zoom meeting can go a long way. What I “complain” about is most likely what they are craving right now. And who knows… if my advice does not work, they may even offer you or McMurphy their spare room!
How have your living arrangements changed? How are you entertaining the people in your home, whether it be adults or children? Are you alone? How are you adjusting to social distancing? Please share your thoughts and remember…dream so big that your thoughts turn into your memories!