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East County Wednesday, Jul. 1, 2020 1 month ago

Date nights on hold for east Bradenton parents

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Pandemic delays some parents' transition to an empty nest.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

For more than 20 years, the Perez household has been about the kids.

That was going to change this month.

GreyHawk Landing’s Nattaly and Hugo Perez were going to experience what parents over the years have called “the empty nest.”

Often, the empty nest can lead to a sadness because the kids have moved away and are less accessible. It also can lead to an excitement about opportunities that surface with fewer parental responsibilities. 

Hugo Perez and Nattaly Perez have been able to spend a few more months with their son Christian (center) before they become empty nesters.

“It’s going to be nice getting to go on dates again,” Nattaly Perez said about planning nights out with her husband.

Nattaly and Hugo Perez will have to wait a bit longer before the dates can begin.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many college freshmen, who would have begun preliminary college studies on their new campus this month, will be taking courses online from home or won’t be taking any college courses until the new semester begins in August. They will be around the nest a bit longer.

That’s OK with Nattaly and Hugo. They have had kids around the house since their eldest son, John Paul, was born. John Paul now is a junior at Florida State University.

Christian, who graduated from Lakewood Ranch High School in May, was scheduled to begin classes at the University of Central Florida in June. Nattaly knew the house was going to get quiet.

“Our whole life, the kids played sports,” she said. “Pretty much every weekend we were going to basketball games, and that’s going to be something we will miss a lot.”

She admits she isn’t ready to be an empty nester. She had told Christian, who will major in marketing, that he needs to call her every day during his freshman year at Central Florida.

She jokes with Christian that if he doesn’t call, she will get campus security to hunt him down and remind him to call his mom.

“I was excited for him to ease into college [by attending summer classes], but secretly, I was kind of happy I get to spend another two months with him, so it was definitely bittersweet but more on a positive note,” Nattaly Perez said.

Danielle Girman, also of GreyHawk Landing, said she and her husband, John, have been looking forward to another “honeymoon” because their son, JT, was entering summer classes at the University of Florida this month.

Due to the pandemic, that didn’t happen, and JT, who will study international food and resource economics, canceled his summer classes, opting to wait until the semester begins in August to leave home. Danielle Girman said JT, their only child, has been their entire world for 18 years.

“It’s extremely hard to think about him not being here in the fall and not having to do school obligations for him and with him,” Danielle Girman said.

When the Girmans’ empty nest period does begin, they expect to spend more quality time together.

“We have not had that much together time since before he was born,” Danielle Girman said. “It would be great to have that quality alone time. It will be like honeymooning all over again.”

Girman said JT never went to a summer camp or away for the summer to visit extended family because he always was so busy. Being busy meant his parents were busy with him.

Ironically, JT Girman is experiencing his first summer in years where he isn’t busy due to the pandemic. The Girmans have had uninterrupted time to enjoy meals or watch a movie without needing to race off to a school event.

“Those little moments mean the world before I go,” JT Girman said.

Christian Perez said he has enjoyed the unexpected time he has had with his family and friends, but he is ready to make his parents true empty nesters.

“I was excited thinking about what I’m going to need for my dorm, and then all of a sudden I’m staying here,” Christian Perez said. “It was bittersweet. It’s just kind of a letdown.”

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