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The Last Chronicle

Posted: April 4, 2013 3:21 p.m.
Updated: April 5, 2013 5:00 a.m.

 

I believe this to be the last entry in my insipid but genuine "chronicles of a college freshman". At least for now. In a way, I wish I could jot down a brief survival guide of sorts for other parents preparing to travel a similar road. But regrettably, we know that’s not how it works. It’s not a chapter in a spicy novel we can rush through but a scene in a play that must be acted out. It must be lived and felt. The first year of college ushers in difficult and, at times, heart-rending change for all parties involved. As a parent, I’ve learned a lot about my relationship with my oldest son. I have also realized this first year of college not only involved going away to college, but it was also about leaving home. Some of the transition has been easy, some not. And regardless of how we see it, the time will nonetheless go by quickly. It’s a fleeting moment in our lives, for both the parents and the student. Most of what we can do is embrace the change as best we can and move forward in this so-called rite of passage.

It is almost inconceivable knowing there are only 16 more days of classes for my freshman. There have been bright moments over the course of this year and there have been some lows. We’ve all learned a lot and this is what I know so far. The hardest job for a college freshman was exactly the same when I was in school, that of finding the balance – the balance between study and play, between the need for independence and the need for the security of home, between freedom and responsibility. This has been the hardest part for me as well – the inability to completely help my son find that balance. As parents, we are used to being problem solvers, fixers and that was the way it was suppose to go – until now. Our college students will be faced with many problems and they can be solved in one of two ways, by the parent or by the student. Either way, problems get solved. Allowing my son to fix issues on his own has been trying but I know it’s only helping him on his road to independence. It’s never been easy relinquishing control but I do know it is necessary. I also know that as my son strives for his independence, he has not hesitated to ask us for our advice and support when he has felt over whelmed and for this I am grateful.

All college freshmen have had to learn a lot in a short period of time. Some days they will falter, some days they will get up and try again. My son has learned you have to fold your clothes to avoid the wrinkled look. He has learned he can sit with his mom in a coffee bar for 1 hour and still feel cool. He has learned pulling an all-nighter can do more harm than good. He has learned drinking a pot of coffee can give you a terrible stomachache. He has learned most professors do not dress like those on Harry Potter. He has learned if one alarm clock doesn’t wake you try two. He has learned he doesn’t need a particular reason to ask mom to visit. And he learned what he’s known all along – how much he is loved and supported.

This past Easter weekend, I discovered a hidden treasure in the midst of growing our freshman. It was the discovery of new relationships and of lifelong friendships in the making. It was the mixing of old and new friends in a wonderful way for both parents and kids. And as time grew near to leave and take my son back to school, I combed the entire yard for him. Finally I spotted him, twisted up in the hammock with 9 of his younger cousins and siblings covering his face with kisses and his arms with punches. I smiled because, at that moment, I knew he would be back for more and back many times over. I am confident in the fact my son knows where to find home base and knows the dugout sits right behind that.

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