- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 6, 2000

They're moving back. You know who my daughter, my son-in-law, my grandchild Matt and, of course, anyone else they would like to give birth to before returning from Minnesota. Of course, that would be difficult because they are moving in August, and to date, nothing seems to be started.

If they don't find a house, they will move back in with us.

Remember the big black dog that sits on white couches with muddy paws and the casual housekeeping habits of a very laid-back family that considers takeout lasagna, eaten in the living room at will, to be a good meal? It has gotten worse. Now Matt feeds himself. No more highchair with the small-spoon delivery system operated by parents. We are into finger food spaghetti in red sauce, blueberry Nutri-Grain bars and peas that fit perfectly into his little nostrils.

I really want them to find a house.

They want to be in the Washington area. When they say "Washington area," they mean no farther than five miles from the city's border. Can you recall the dream of our generation? A house in the suburbs and two cars. Well, find a soft mound of dirt in your suburban back yard and bury that dream. Our children are city people. They want to use public transportation.

Our job is to check out the houses they find on the Internet and send them feedback. Let me give you a thumbnail synopsis of the Washington housing market. For just a little less than the budget of Japan, you can find a house with electricity.

"You give up something for location," my daughter spouts indignantly when I try to encourage a search farther out.

"Well, I'm sorry," I retort. "It's just hard for me to look at a fact sheet and find 'indoor plumbing' listed under 'luxuries.' "

The obvious solution is to encourage them to come and find their own house. We did that. They came and found several possibilities. Then they asked us to look at their choices.

I learned, after looking at their selections, that only two things matter to the new generation. The first is an open kitchen-family-room combination, expertly designed so company can always enjoy an unobstructed view of all the dirty pots, pans and dishes while listening to the garbage disposal. The second is a whirlpool. It doesn't matter where the whirlpool is actually it matters a little. It should be in the master bedroom.

What really doesn't matter is where the master bedroom is located. Because both these attractions are add-ons, the master "suite" usually is above the new kitchen-family-room disaster. Both are placed wherever space permits on a postage-stamp-size lot and generally are only remotely attached to the rest of the lean-to.

If the house hunters happen to be lucky enough to find their dream, they must brace themselves for the newest wrinkle in real estate acquisition the bidding war. This maneuver is performed by a group of Realtors locked in a soundproof booth. Whatever happens in the chamber is highly covert. There are no revelations about the other bidders, the prices they offered or the integrity of their contract. You just lose. That's it.

My daughter is a two-time loser. So far it isn't looking good for her and her family, which means it isn't looking good for us. If they move in with us again, they promise it will only be for a short time. Hiroshima was destroyed in a short time.

Matt demonstrated impressive ability to replicate that devastation during the few brief days he was in our house. He proudly showed us how he could climb all the way up onto a glass table, then fall off. He showed us how he could crawl all the way up the steps, then fall down. He showed us how quickly he could run while looking backward. He showed us how he could ride his little Crazy Coup right into the kitchen cabinets. He also showed us how brilliant menopause is.

I know what you're thinking. "Where were his parents during all this?" They were busy wandering around large kitchen-family-room potentials, or maybe they were just resting in a whirlpool in some overpriced house. Well, it is my great hope they find their dream. Meanwhile, if anyone out there is trying to sell a house (close in) please think of us.

Ellen Rosenthal is the grandmother of 1-year-old Matthew. Her column will appear the first Tuesday of each month. Send any comments and suggestions to her by mail: PO Box 60701, Potomac, Md. 20859; or by e-mail (grandtales@aol.com).

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