And then there was one teenage daughter left at home

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In recent days, the hormonal distribution in my household has become slightly more balanced as two of my three teenage daughters and several lines of credit are now off attending college. This means that when I’m at home, I only receive the contemptuous side-eye from my wife, my youngest daughter, two female dogs and a female cat anytime I produce even the most innocent of bodily noises.

Yes, my happy-go-lucky middle daughter has left the nest – with a trail of glitter, jewelry beads and other expensive craft supplies in her wake. Things around here will be a lot quieter without her, and probably a heck of a lot less fun.

I’ve often said that my middle daughter is the marshmallow center of the sibling Moon Pie, and we’ll definitely miss her infectious silliness, which has occasionally involved wearing a pair of underwear or one of our pets as a hat.

Now that she’s gone to college, I’ll be missing the daughter I can’t sit beside (or even look at) during church services, weddings, nice dinners or any other polite company without risking an eruption of giggle snorts or beverages spewing out of our nostrils.

This is the daughter who once aspired to be a professional shopper, and when we asked for whom she planned to shop, she exclaimed that she would be shopping for herself – of course. Over the years, she has become an expert in this line of work.

This is also the daughter whose insides, by now, have probably mutated into a viscous mass of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. In fact, whenever we ran out of the candy, she could be found at any given hour of the day or night lurking in our kitchen pantry–committing culinary atrocities against a large jar of creamy Jif and a jumbo bag of Nestle Tollhouse Milk Chocolate Morsels.

This is the daughter who, over the years, has attempted to transform our home into an unlicensed exotic petting zoo. Incidentally, by housing numerous hedgehogs, fancy mice, hermit crabs, hamsters, dogs and cats, I’ve developed well-honed skills in the field of droppings-management. (If I could only find some way to turn it into a side gig.)

When she wasn’t trying to convince me to blow a couple of C-notes on another pet whose poop I would get to scoop, this is the daughter who had a habit of going to the ophthalmologist to have a variety of foreign objects plucked out of her eyeballs. I don’t think she ever got a hedgehog lodged in there, but I’m sure she considered it.

And speaking of pet droppings, since puberty hit and ruined everything, this is the daughter who has taken every possible opportunity to invite various hairy-legged species of teenage boys (usually in desperate need of a haircut) for awkward meetings with me so that I could evaluate them and offer to show them my collection of Bibles and body bags. Fortunately, when she left for college, she managed to avoid packing a take-along boyfriend in her laundry hamper – I think.

I desperately love all three of my daughters. They are all delightfully different, and I’ve learned to annoy each of them according to their own unique personalities.

With my eldest and most expensive daughter entering her sophomore year of spending my life savings, and my middle daughter spreading her sunshine as a college freshman, my youngest teenage daughter will now be our honorary “only child.” And although she tends to be stoic and quiet, she does have a silly streak, so we’ll do our best to commemorate her middle sister from time to time by spewing beverages out of our nostrils and wearing our underwear as a hat.

Copyright 2022 Jase Graves distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Graves is an award-winning humor columnist from East Texas. His columns have been featured in Texas Escapes magazine, The Shreveport Times, The Longview News Journal, and The Kilgore News Herald. Contact Graves at [email protected].

Jase Graves is an award-winning humor columnist from East Texas. His columns have been featured in Texas Escapes magazine, The Shreveport Times, The Longview News Journal, and The Kilgore News Herald. He is also a frequent contributor to The Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop, which named him Writer of the Month for June of 2017, and he has served as a judge in the Erma Bombeck/Anna Lefler Humorist in Residence program.

The National Society of Newspaper Columnists says, "Whether he's breaking down the common types of yard sale denizens ('The Lingerer . . .she was here so long, I'll probably be able to claim her on my next tax return') or sharing cautionary tales of mattress shopping, Jason flays suburban life with a sharp wit. Shopping for his daughter's swimsuits, he wonders if he has 'strayed into the first aid section and . . .was looking at a new line of colorful ACE bandages.'"

Other than writing, his hobbies include berating the television when the Texas A&M Aggie football team is playing and sleeping as late as possible.