When Your ‘Easy Child’ is No Longer Easy

It’s not that I’m unfamiliar with the term “soiling the nest.” I’ve already endured one round, after all, when my husband and I launched our first baby adult into the wild three years ago. It’s that my second child has reached full soiling season and it is about 983 times more amped than what we experienced with his sibling.

It’s that this child was supposed to be our easy one, a sweet reward for what we endured in that inaugural soiling. I should mention that our first child is now a dream. This is good. This gives us reason to look skyward with a sigh of, “Give him a few years, it’ll get better” as we navigate round two. 

Our second child was an easy baby but is now soiling the nest. (Shutterstock Krakenimages.com)

Our son was such an easy child

Our son has a long history of being a breeze but that breeze has recently turned into gusty winds blowing people out of every room he enters lest we want to endure the glares of disgust produced simply by having to live with us, the dumbest people he knows. Our son is soiling our nest mostly silently, through eyesrolls and raised eyebrows and exasperated sighs. Our first child was a bit more vocal (a bit?) in her soiling, something we never imagined we would actually miss.

This new entrant onto the reasons-why-I-have-gray-hair list took a very smooth road for his first 17 years. He had very few academic issues, a summer gig as a lifeguard, a great group of friends, and was always a pleasant participant in family activities. Then, as the chorus of “Happy Birthday” drifted to silence on his 18th birthday, the soiling began. 

Grades? Who needs ‘em? 

College? Why should he apply to more than one–especially if that one practically guarantees admission? 

Curfew? That’s for 17-year-olds! 

Job? Laughable! He worked all summer long, this should be his downtime.

Our son needs a job

That’s the real issue in our home these days, the lack of a job for this child testing boundaries. When our son signed up for his final year of classes he earned the gift of a schedule filled with electives. “Amazing!” we said as we all agreed that he would also work during this, his senior year. That agreement was meant to be both a learning experience (balancing work/school) and a savings experience (beefing up that bank account pre-college). 

That agreement was tossed out the window in lieu of more time with his first serious girlfriend

While this young love is absolutely adorable, it is also the likely source of those drooping grades, missed curfews, and inability to focus on finding a job. Please note I said “it” and not “she.” Our son’s girlfriend is a go-getter and we often wonder (hope?) if some of that go-getter-ness will rub off on him. 

My son is silently soiling the nest

He is soiling the nest silently and I hate it. With our first child, we got the emotional release that comes with a good old-fashioned parent/child argument. Sure, those heated discussions often ended with zero resolutions but at least everyone got to speak their piece, gaining that satisfaction of feeling heard. 

My husband and I spend a lot of time urging the real world to arrive quickly into our son’s sights. We know that this attitude of I’ve got it all figured out will immediately be tested once the real world comes into focus. Heck, we even started charging him rent at the turn of the year in response to one too many declarations of “I’m an adult now.” 

Yes, my child, yes you are. And to help you adult, we will now show you what it’s like to pay for that phone and pay for that car insurance and, what’s that? You’re going to drain your bank account? If only there were a way to procure incoming funds…

Paying us rent made him a little more ‘aware’

Nine days after our son filled out his very first check ever, our youngest baby adult did, in fact, secure a part-time job. Dare I say he even seemed a bit chipper? I mean, no, I would obviously not expect any words affirming our parenting choices–those won’t come until later, right? Right?!? But as with his older sister, it seems that having to physically write a check to his parents/landlords did kick a small bit of ambition into gear. 

For us, those pesky recipients of said check, we saw a glimmer of the future. A future in which that beloved frontal lobe will reveal itself and our child will suddenly latch onto all those eye-roll-worthy words of advice we’ve bestowed on him. 

Give him a few years, it’ll get better

More Great Reading:

5 Universal Truths About Teens ‘Soiling the Nest’ Before They Leave Home

About Jyl Barlow

Jyl Barlow is a best-selling author raising two baby adults with her husband in Virginia. Her book, What to Expect When You Weren’t Expecting, is a humorous memoir documenting her step parenting journey. Jyl navigates life as a (second)wife and (step)mom with inappropriate laughter and near-perfect hindsight.

Besides writing, Jyl enjoys travel, fighting with her embroidery machine, and trying to convince her husband to let her have chickens. Jyl’s writing credits also include FunnyPearls.com, Today.com, and WhichWaysUp.blog. Get to know her at JylBarlow.com.

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