Does this look like he’s packed for college? There are likely tens of thousands of 18-year old students just like my son who is living on the edge and packing at the very last second to go off to college. Why is it that I don’t feel any better knowing that?
Over the past year, I have tried often to avert my eyes when they wandered toward the general direction of Adam’s room. I floundered between putting my foot down and demanding some semblance of neatness and/or cleanliness when it came to tidying up his room, to shrugging my shoulders and thanking my lucky stars that THIS was the worst of our problems when it same to raising Adam.
In less than 24 hours, the chapter begins for Adam. He’ll be more or less settled in his dorm room and beginning a long weekend of leadership training with the group of young people who are part of the Presidential Service Corps program at Widener. I wonder how long it will take for Adam to realize that he is truly on his own when it comes to taking care of himself on a daily basis. Will he become a leader? Will his roommate be better or worse than him when it comes to their living arrangements and taking care of their small space that is less than 12-feet square? Will Adam understand that there are few second chances in college and mid-terms, finals and papers come on you fast and furious?
These questions and more are sure to shoot through his still-forming brain. Ah, he has just returned form his last day at work. Let’s see how packing goes tonight. I hope to sleep like a baby.
One and done. That was the baby plan for us. We have gone through all the parenting and child-rearing activities for the past 18 years once and then moved on to the next challenge. Now, it appears this chapter is even more challenging than potty-training. This is parent training.
During the past weeks and months, chatting with other parents who are either sending their oldest or only child off to college for the first time or sending a second, third (or fourth) child off to college, the experiences wind up in the same place: Our child was: 1. NOT ready, 2. NOT ready to pack, and 3. had virtually no clue on how life without the parental units to back them up would be like. For me, all of that has led to a potpourri of emotions.
I’ve gone through wanting to ‘help’ our son by making lists or offering advice on a myriad of topics ranging from choosing classes and finding the syllabus and textbooks to relaying tales from my college years and roommate dilemmas. Apparently none of what I say has any bearing on what my son will need for college. I am beginning to reconcile all the emotions into an understanding that somehow, our son will be OK. Getting through the freshman year is the toughest part of college. Transitioning from 12 years of school in which teachers usually had the students’ backs and there were checks and balances to be sure students progressed as expected. That of course, is NOT the case in college. It’s like a job but with a sizable tuition bill and certainly no pay check (that amounts to much).
The game changer for our son (I hope) is Widener University’s Presidential Service Corp. Adam applied and was accepted into this program and received a sizable scholarship to participate in this program. He’ll be teamed with a group of students in the program and they will not only carry out 300 hours of community service during the school term but have a social and support network to keep the students moving toward the goal of graduating with a social consciousness that can help a student find his or her passion in society. Adam seems to be looking forward to this program. He’ll have a group of like-students all ready for him to get to know, work and socialize in various teams. We’ll see how things go.
Has Adam connected with his roommate? No – but not for lack of trying. E-mails, texts and Facebook messages have gone unanswered. What are THAT student’s parents thinking? Is Adam packed? No: you DON’T want to know what his room here looks like. Move-in is Friday morning; 72 hours and counting. Has Adam completed all of the required online questionnaires and other items? No. Does he know his mailing address? No. BREAKING NEWS- Adam JUST informed me of his P.O. box and his adviser’s name and email (just for our records; not for becoming a helicopter parent-which we have never been).
My husband’s thinking seems to make some sense to me: as long as Adam has a change of clothes, linens for his dorm bed, a pencil, some paper and a toothbrush, he’ll survive. Move-in is Friday. Will I survive? Let me know how YOU are doing and I’ll report back on MY progress.