If there’s joy in your baby bird peeking out of the nest, then there’s even more joy in the homecoming when they look back inwards and snuggle back in.
When they do, it can be a trickle of information, or a flood. The chorus might be “Yeah,” “Uh-huh,” and “I guess.” Or it might be a blow by blow description of whoever was there, whatever they learned, and the activities they took part in. Or both, depending on the subject.
It’s also pure improv time for parents. Do you need to be encouraging and supportive? Angry on their behalf? Reassuring and matter-of-fact to counter disappointment? Eager and animated to share in their excitement? Calm and logical to help them process? None of it’s really written down in our non-existent Parenting Handbook, so we turn the empathy dial up to 11 and hang on for the ride. And try to remember what we craved at that age when we looked to our parents for help.
Most of our answers are right, anyways, so the pressure to parent is entirely self-imposed. And it’s all swept away in the joy of the return home – a special joy that’s magnified by its rarity.