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College life: even parents can survive

Whew! I just survived my first year of college! Actually, it wasn’t my first year of post-secondary education; I already did that many moons ago. This time it was the freshman year of my son, Randy, my oldest child.
The past school year flew by, at least from this mother’s perspective. It seems like just yesterday that I was getting teary-eyed thinking about him going away to Indiana University in Bloomington. As a divorced parent, I thought having ‘shared’ him the past eight years with his father would make his leaving easier.
There were still things I wanted to do with him before he left home, because I knew that once he received that high school diploma and stepped into adulthood nothing would ever be the same. When I told this to my husband, Ray, he asked, ‘What things do you want to do?’
‘I don’t know!’ I’d cry back at him. ‘Just things!’
Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I can come up with a list of things I’d like to have the opportunity to do if I could go back 19 years, when Randy was a newborn, and nurture him to adulthood.
I’d like to hold him in my arms and rock him to sleep more, read him a story book, even if it was one I’d read at least a hundred times, and take him to the zoo and the park and other places he liked to go or to those places we talked about visiting but never made the time.
I wish I would have placed less importance on my job and found a way to attend more of his sporting events or be at home with him spending time together doing whatever he wanted to do.
You get the idea.
Parents of young children, take heed. Life really does pass by quickly, so take every opportunity to spend time with your youngsters. And when they reach the age that they act like they don’t want to be seen with you, just smile, ignore their comments and continue to do what you’ve been doing. Teens ‘ and even some preteens ‘ just think they’re suppose to rebel against being seen with their parents.
Last August, as college moving-in day drew nearer, my son and I spent more time together, mostly doing things like a refresher course in laundry and buying supplies and gathering up things for Randy to take to college. This was done through bigger tears. (I’ve always wished I owned stock in Kleenex.) And by the time we attended our last worship service together just three days before he left home, I couldn’t even look at my son without sobbing!
Country singer Suzy Bogguss had a hit song in the early ’90s that sums it up for me: ‘It’s never easy letting go.’
I have to admit I held up better throughout the big day than I had anticipated. Perhaps making numerous trips up and down three flights of stairs ‘ no, the dorm Randy was assigned to become his first home away from home does not have an elevator! ‘ had my thoughts in other places.
Leaving him that first time was the hardest. But each time I would go see him (which wasn’t often because he was ‘busy’) or take him back after a weekend at home would get easier. He also threatened not to let me take him back to campus anymore if I was going to cry every time. That did the trick; instead, I waited until I was in my van on my way home to release any tears that had built up.
The experience also helped me realize what my parents had gone through during my college years at Purdue University. Sad to say, they heard from me even less than I heard from my son last year because I certainly didn’t write letters very often; I was ‘too busy’ experiencing college life. But I sure ran up their phone bill from time to time!
Now, thanks to the Internet and e-mail, I could communicate with Randy on a daily basis. The ‘mail’ still flowed more from my direction to his than vice versa, but he did manage to send a sentence or two every few days that reassured me he was still alive. And free evening and weekend minutes through a cellular phone plan gave him the opportunity to call, when he could work me in his schedule, so he could check in, usually to ask for a favor such as send money or ‘Mom, I need you to pick me up’ for a trip home.
And, of course, any type of communication included the most-repeated question: ‘How are classes going?’
Final grades for the year have been posted, and Randy did pretty well, considering college students now have the added distractions of video games and the Internet.
With high school graduations just around the corner, there are probably many of you who are about to experience seeing your first child receive their diploma and count down the number of days until they head off to college.
You may be wondering how will they survive? Are they really ready for this? Just remember:
* Your son or daughter has had 12 years of educational instruction, so they should be ready to advance to the next level of schooling. Yes, there will probably be stumbling blocks along the way, but with persistence on their part and encouragement from you they will find their way and make it. The path they take may not be the one you would have chosen for them, but it is their life.
* You have reared them even more years than they have spent in school, so hopefully you’ve instilled in them the values and common sense they need to enter adulthood. All those years that you thought they weren’t listening to you or watching how you did things will pay off, and, if you’re really lucky, one day they will think to themselves ‘Oh, my gosh, I sound just like my mom/dad.’
* If you attended college, try not to think too much about the way it was then. The good and the bad aspects of post-secondary education are all part of the educational process. And the more things change, the more they stay the same. You survived it; chances are your son or daughter will too.
* And just when you’ve adjusted to them being gone, guess what ‘ they return, even if it is just for the summer! My son’s been home for two weeks now and I’m beginning to wonder who his slave has been the past nine months. And here I thought he had been doing his own laundry, rising each morning on his own and getting his meals.
How many days are left before the fall semester starts?