“Boomerang children who return to live with their parents after university can be good for families…” report in The Guardian, June 30
OUR boomerang girl is setting up her new wi-fi so we can watch the England match. She gets this done in record time and soon her laptop is linked to the TV, letting us catch all those goals against Panama.
The girl and her mother start to tackle something that arrived in a flat-pack. I try to watch the game in the gaps between limbs engaged in furniture assembly. I am not that bothered about football, but very not bothered about flat-packs, and anyway it’s the World Cup.
The England goals fly in, and it’s not often you can say that, and the flat-packed thing turns three-dimensional.
Today, and every other moving day, I am the driver. I have been driving cars and vans filled with the offspring and their belongings for years now. To university and then back again, many times. First that well-travelled road led to Preston and back; then to Salford and back; and, finally, to Newcastle and back.
Now the university runs are over. Our boomerang girl lived with us after university, went to Australia for a year, then boomeranged back from Perth in March.
Now she is moving into a small rented house with a friend. The bed has already been brought over and assembled while I was hiding at work.
A day passes, and I am waiting with a big red VW van at the top of Micklegate. The van is in the way and the usually punctual daughter is late, so I have to pull up onto the pavement. This van is bigger than our car, I think; where’s that girl, I think. Then I spot her breezing through the arches of the old gateway. She climbs aboard and the big red van lumbers off the pavement. It’s easy to drive, as these vans usually are, though the lack of a rear-view mirror always catches me out.
We drive home, load up the van, my wife hops on board, and we drive our boomerang girl to the new house. Two hours later, having deposited our daughter, we return the van. “That was quick,” says the woman. She tells me I’ve driven seven miles.
That’s probably why I struggled to get any diesel in the tank, I tell her. That’s three pounds I’ll never see again, I think. But you rarely see any of them again.
We cross the road from the van place and order coffee in a sunny backyard that transports us to the south of France. By some miracle, our holiday at home has coincided with a heatwave.
The Guardian headline said that returning children “enrich the whole family”. I’ll go along with that, even if having your children back as adults is a little strange – for you and them.
Earlier research published this year suggested that returning adult children “trigger a significant decline in their parents’ quality of life and wellbeing”, according to The Guardian report.
This latest study, by the London School of Economics, finds advantages for parents and children – “Daughters were happier than sons, often slipping easily into teenage patterns of behaviour, the study said.” Ah, that would explain the loud pop music that followed her around. Now the house has returned to silence, if you discount all the noise we make.
The LSE report mentions parents’ expectations of the “post-children” phase of their lives. Is there such a state? You’re never really ‘post’ them, but it’s encouraging to see them establishing their own lives.
It was positive and happy having the boomerang girl here for three months, but it’s nice having the place to ourselves, and good that she’s doing her own thing (she is nearly 25, after all).
We’ve not seen her for a week, but she’s back this afternoon for a meal, bringing two of her girlfriends. That’s the thing with boomerangs: they do return, but only for a few hours at a time now.