The parenting rules blur when your son or daughter is in college. You may want to guide them, offer advice from your years of learning and experience and prevent them from making mistakes you may have made. Well, forget it. For the most part, your college-aged children want you to let them go.
We have one child – everything is one and done; we go through experiences once and move on to the next experience. Since September, I’ve learned that our son rarely wants to hear our advice. He’ll listen to our friends or just about anyone else when it comes to college-aged advice – but not us. After I got over my slightly hurt feelings along with the desire to impart my wisdom on our son, I’ve realized, he just wants us to LISTEN.
Son & grandparents – Dec. 2012
He called us last week. We talked – or mostly HE talked for much of the 30-minutes. We asked questions showing our interest – he answered. In an earlier call, he went on about how the spring semester is so very different from his fall semester. In my had I was thinking, “Gees, didn’t I tell him that?” Of course I did; taking a look at his spring course selection, I knew he’d have a ton of reading and I told him so. This got more intense when he made the honors program. He did NOT want to hear that from me. He had to experience the challenges himself. No warning from mom was going to penetrate his defenses.
Which leads me to my final revelation. Weeks ago, our son chided us for making plans so far in advance: vacations, dinner reservations, parties, etc. He called last night – Tuesday – to say he was thinking about coming home this coming weekend and did we have any plans. That is HUGE for him. Normally, he’d call us 15 minutes before – or after he wanted to do something. I can clearly see that he is starting to manage his schedule and look forward.
So, when he calls, I listen – and take notes. That way I am forced to listen; I have a record of what he talked about and I can ask good, relevant questions that engage him in the conversation. I guess I’m growing up, too. And I can’t wait to see our son this weekend.
Nearly 24 years ago, Doug and I met. We met through a group that formed out of the kindness and creativity of a man named Carl. That group of singles – then called Voorhees Single Professionals – was created long before the internet, Match.com or any other online dating service. Carl created the group out of a desire to connect single people in their 20’s and 30’s to a social life that was tough to find beyond the bar scene at the time. An earlier article in the Philadelphia Inquirer mentioned the beginning of the group in the fall of 1989.
Tonight, more than 23 years later, Carl, his wife Ramona, Rick, Mary, Doug and I – who all met because of this group – had dinner together. I am exhausted. It was as though we had just left a group meeting and had planned weeks of events. We now are planning to get together for a boat ride – the six of us – on the Chesapeake – this coming summer. Ramona volunteered to start a Facebook page so we can begin to plan a September 28th ‘reunion’ of sorts. We want to revisit what Carl started so many years ago – a group of people who want to get together for social activities – a MEET market he proclaimed at the time – NOT a MEAT market – which was the big problem for singles.
The six of us met at our house for drinks and appetizers for about an hour. Our kitchen was filled with non-stop talk. Catching up; talking about our children – successes – failures; things on the horizon. When it came time to leave for our dinner reservation, we continued to talk. The car ride went by in a flash.
At the restaurant, we ordered and continued to catch up on each others’ lives. We talked about people who have passed away; who’ve divorced – but best of all, we reminisced about how each of us met. To remember those days as if they happened yesterday makes you feel as if everything that you’ve gone through – suffered through – survived – is even more meaningful.
What it all comes down to is – as the character Billy Crystal played in “City Slickers” said is ONE thing: if it were not for Carl and his one idea to put an ad in the local shopper’s guide and reserve the community hall in Voorhees on that September night in 1989 – none of us would have met. Our lives would be completely different.
Thank you Carl – forever; we love you. And we’ll plan that reunion for September 28, 2013.
During this time of year when we say, “Happy New Year” until around January 15, we can wax poetic about days gone by; say “farewell” to old habits while we welcome new ones and just plain old, move forward.
Today’s winter sky has been crystal blue with some high clouds, but the big news is we get about 45 minutes more of daylight during January. These long, dark nights are just depressing. Not to mention we are seeing the seasonal affective disorder stories starting to pop up. While I took a moment from working to look out the window on my neighborhood street at this 3 o’clock hour, one of the school busses stopped letting elementary school children off. Four little ones scurried across the street, while the fifth child – a boy – broke into a full-out run up the street. About 50 yards away was his dad walking toward him. The boy continued running right into dad’s waiting arms and he swung his son around.
The little boy is gone.
My heart went pitter-pat. Those days are gone for us. At 16, our son still says “I love you” when he leaves the house or at the end of the day, which I am grateful for, but there’s very little hugging and certainly no running into our arms. He’d crush me. The memories of those days are still sharp. It’s lovely to go back to the photo albums (before we had digital photos) and see the shots of Adam being held up over our heads or just in our arms. I remember visiting him at camp during his first year. He ran to our arms on visiting day and cried like a baby when we left. This past year, we got to have dinner with him after visiting day. I think he was glad when we left.
But, we move forward. It’s time to register to take the ACT and SAT tests; he’s going to a dance with his freshman girlfriend and before long, he’ll be ponying up the big bucks for his junior prom. At least he says “I love you” at the end of the day – this I look forward to.
Adam at the Phillies Wall of Fame Oct. 09
Remember when you were in school, it seemed as though a day was about a month long? Goodness, I’d like those days back. My son is taking driver’s ed in school. While they are not getting behind the wheel, they are studying the rules of the road, learning about car parts and DUI’s and preparing for the state written driving test in January. Wasn’t I just changing my shirt because my son spit up on me for the 500th time? I swear it was just yesterday. He was this little boy totally enamoured with life, his parents, his trucks, cars and toys. Now, the toy closet in the family room goes untouched; I’m pondering tossing many of those boy things, but I can’t get myself to even open the cabinet. Now, in the car, Adam asks me about which car he might get when he saves money; how he doesn’t agree with the NJ laws establishing the different levels of drivers licenses (I say, thank goodness for the different levels). Every once in ta while, Adam will talk about how he hopes my husband and I stay in our house so he’ll have holidays here when he comes home from college or beyond. (Wasn’t I just dating my husband?Now we’re talking about just a few years from now?)
We recently got a home energy audit which included a rundown on what the energy improvements would cost and how long it would take for the improvements to pay off. One improvement listed indicated it would pay off in eight years. My husband asked, “Do you think we’ll BE in this house in eight years?” (Didn’t we just buy this house?)
I’m starting to get emails from friends who mention so-and-so died and even a Facebook message about someone from our high school class dying. OK, now I’m just going down the wrong path. The reality of MY life is: I have NEVER felt better. I think I’m in better shape than I was 10 years ago. I certainly weigh less and despite the biological age I’m experiencing now and how rapidly my son is growing up and away from us, he is our one and only child. He’ll always be my boy and he’ll always know how we care about what’s happening to him every step of the way. I just hope for his safety, happiness and well-being, always. He took his PSAT’s last weekend; weren’t we just singing the “ABC” song with him yesterday?