After college is out and family ties have been renewed, there comes a time when the parent-child bond has been tested and all hell breaks loose. Then everyone decides that the idea of having the loved one home for the summer was a terrible mistake.
Most experts give the honeymoon three weeks from the moment the student was picked up at the airport to the hour the father yells at his child, "When are you going to get a job?"
You can hear the confrontations all over my neighborhood. The other day I passed John and Lynn Minna's house and heard the agonized voice of a wounded mother.
"I can do without boarders who sleep until 2 o'clock in the afternoon."
"I read all night," came a coed's voice.
"I don't need people in my house who read all night."
"I have nothing to do all day long. Why should I get up early?"
"You could work and earn some money for college."
"The only jobs available in the newspaper are for Midas Muffler mechanics."
"What's wrong with that?"
"I'm studying political science. It would only confuse me."
John Minna yelled, "You could help your mother clean up the house."
The girl shouted back, "You're only saying that because I'm a woman."
John said, "That's not true. I told your brother the same thing."
"He knew you didn't mean it."
Then I heard Lynn Minna's voice, "We don't have fights here when you're in school. Just because you have two years of college doesn't mean you can run roughshod over everybody."
The daughter answered, "You wanted me to come home. I could have gone to Iris Goldstein's in Potomac if I knew it was going to be like this."
John's voice: "Why didn't you?"
Daughter: "Because she isn't there. She had a fight with her parents."
Lynn: "This is my house and I'm going to set down the rules."
Daughter: "You're doing to me exactly what Joan Crawford did to her daughter in 'Mommie Dearest.' "
John: "All the neighbors will hear us."
Daughter: "I hope so because then they will know how you treat college students."
"Go to your room."
Daughter: "Does everyone around here talk in cliches?"
John: "How much more time do we have until she goes back?"
Lynn: "Two months 14 days 12 hours and 3 minutes."
Father: "I don't think we can last. Maybe we should go to Europe."
Daughter: "I'm not going to stay here alone."
Mother: "How would you know?"
I decided that it was time to break it up, so I went to their front door and knocked. Lynn Minna let me in and ushered me into the living room where John and his daughter were sitting.
Lynn said, "You know our daughter, Muffie. We're so proud of her. She's captain of the volleyball team and a joy to have at home."