Below, you will find the post I wrote a week before my son left for college in late August. Well, he’s been gone for nearly two months now, and I wanted to take a chance to bring you up to date. He left early for college to be part of a leadership program. There were about forty students who went on a retreat to Frost Valley for a couple of days. This gave him a chance to bond with a smaller group of students before the rest of the freshman moved into the dorms. It boosted his confidence in himself, it put him at an advantage to be on campus after the retreat for several days with a small group of students, and it gave other people a chance to get to know him before he could be lost in the crowd. Shortly after school started, he was elected Treasurer of his dorm’s residence association. He’s met many friends and now he’s met a very special girl. He’s doing well in his classes and has become well known on campus for the really nice guy that he is. He’s even doing his own laundry. I guess he didn’t do too bad . . . I guess I didn’t either.
Have I done my job? I’m about to find out.
The things I am cramming into this last week with my son:
1. How to do laundry.
2. How to put checks in the bank.
3. How to sew a button on a shirt.
4. How to iron without burning his clothes or himself.
Have I forgotten anything? I guess I will find out soon enough. At least I know the school will feed him. If he had to cook for himself beyond heating up frozen White Castle hamburgers, we’d be in trouble. But the meal plan will save him from starvation.
The real test will be in how he manages his time. Meeting new friends, joining clubs and organizations, leaving enough time for his school work, and doing laundry at least once a semester . . . this is a lot for a boy who has had a full time mom for the first eighteen years of his life.
It’s funny, but I remember when I was about to get married and realizing all the things I didn’t know how to do because my mom had always done everything for me. I remember grabbing her arm as she made sauce so that I could measure the ingredients before she put them in the pot so that I would know how to cook. I remember thinking that I would make sure my children were better prepared for the real world when they left their nest than I was. Somehow, that didn’t quite happen the way I had planned.
I’ve had “the talk” with him . . . no, not that one . . . but maybe I should have that one too . . . I have told him that I expect him to get an “A” in every class. He may not, but I still expect him to. I’ve told him if he doesn’t do well, he is wasting his time and our money. It is not enough to get a college degree anymore. It needs to be in a subject that leads to a career, you need to do better than everyone else, and you need to get internships and experience along the way. And yet, this is my son who has never held a job beyond feeding the neighbor’s cats . . .
Yes, college is a time of transition. A time between being home and being on your own. A time to learn how to be an adult and learn all of the things your parents didn’t or couldn’t teach you. I am so very proud of him. I am so excited to see how he changes over these next few years from the boy who is leaving now. He is starting his journey and my heart is so full of love for him. That love is what tells me I know I have done my job, because in spite of him being an eighteen year old teenager, I will miss him.
http://www.theresadodaro.com Author of The Tin Box Trilogy