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Opinion

Home alone


  • By Clay Neely
  • |
  • Aug. 05, 2022 - 8:02 AM

Home alone

The Newnan Times-Herald

Do you remember that feeling you got as a teenager when your parents went out of town for the weekend?

It’s been a few years, but it came rushing back a few weeks ago when my mom took our kids out to Texas for over a week.

In case you forgot, the initial feeling is uncertainty. Is this really happening?

Soon the floodgates burst, and the possibilities come rushing forward like a long-lost relative after you won the lottery.

You only have a certain amount of time, so how is it going to be spent?

Once we realized that our kids would be over 700 miles away, the race was on, so we started a wish list.

Our first order of business was to work on this “wish list” over a plate of Mexican food at a restaurant. Uninterrupted.

Turns out, the first thing on our to-do list was “whatever we want.”

As parents, we’re the closers. We can’t really relax until everyone else is either asleep or smart enough to stay in their rooms. It’s one of those basic parenting rules we try to follow.

So one wish-list item was to have some friends over for dinner. And it was fabulous.

We simply sat around, ate, drank and talked for hours without that nagging feeling of getting kids ready for bed. Nope, we’d be skipping all that tonight.

As soon as our friends left, we hopped on the couch to watch whatever the heck we wanted.

Turns out, we wanted to binge-watch the latest “Stranger Things” season without waking up (or mentally scarring) the kids. Our subwoofer happily enhanced the experience for us.

Another neat perk was our ability to leave snacks out on the counter without wondering if they’d still be there in the morning.

It’s a little unsettling the way snacks are revered in this house. I’ve watched my son barter with his sister for food like they’re in a jailhouse cafeteria.

So another parenting skill I’ve tried to master is buying snacks kids won’t touch. This has led me to some interesting choices, but mostly snacks that are “spicy."

“I don’t see how you can eat that,” one kid says to me, pointing at a bag of jalapeño dill kettle chips.

Normally, it’s not my first choice for a snack, but at least I know it’s safe from the clutches of another kid.

So it was pretty exciting to purchase a bunch of food we love and actually get to enjoy it.

So if it sounds like all we did was snack, talk and watch TV during our “vacation,” you’d be wrong.

Turns out, I was a major help watching Beth paint the hearth, and sheetrock a wall before completing a mind-bending wallpaper project. I even think I might have gotten her something to drink at some point.

In short, I was indispensable.

Soon, we remembered what finishing complete sentences were like. We could talk without fear of interruption or eavesdropping. If we wanted to do something, we just did it.

Meanwhile, my mom wrangled two kids to a Texas Dude Ranch in the blistering July heat. Morale got a little low for a bit, but they turned it around after she threatened to send them home on a plane the next day.

After that, it was smiles for miles. They came home ready to start school with a pretty good summer to look back on.

But for us, it was a week we’ve dreamed about having for years. Thanks, Mom.

This Sunday, we’ll celebrate 18 years of marriage. And my favorite part of the week was the reaffirmation that our biggest wish is simply to hang out with each other.

Clay Neely is co-publisher and managing editor of The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at clay@newnan.com .