Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

July 28, 2013

Garret Leiva: Two kinds of quiet keep dad on toes

As a parent, there is quiet and too quiet.

The aforementioned quiet usually involves either kids sleeping or chewing a peanut butter sandwich. However, those too-quiet moments can spell trouble — with cries or bloodshed forthcoming.

Last week I experienced an unfathomable quiet: no kid. My ears are still ringing from the silence.

For seven days my wife and I experienced pre-empty nest syndrome. Our 11-year-old daughter left us for a better offer: a week at Camp Nana.

We were willing to play along with a well-orchestrated grandparent takeover. After all, a grandparent’s job is to overindulge and undercut; as in cookies and parental rules.

When it comes to unconditional love, grandmothers are moms with lots of frosting.

Camp Nana left me in an unfamiliar position after work: home alone. Our dog greeted me with a puzzled grin rather than a tongue-wagging smile. Her tail was happy to see me, but her eyes said “Where’s the kid?”

I was home alone for the first time in months. I thought about sliding across the wood floor in my dress shirt and boxer shorts. However, that seemed a bit too Tom Cruise.

Instead I watched movies without talking dogs or annoying Disney Channel teens. My wife worked late, so I ate dinner in the bachelor position — over the kitchen sink.

Despite the volume of movie explosions around me, the house was eerily quiet.

The most pronounced silence was in the morning. There was no one to push, prod or roll out of bed — unless it was me hitting the alarm clock snooze button. No one to chide about clean teeth or underwear; again, after 43 years, I’ve got those two down.

What bothered me most was the quiet car rides. Naturally there was road noise, radio stations and the occasional cell phone ring. I missed the sweet voice from the backseat.

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