I’m not sure that I’ve ever spent so much time rolling my eyes. I’m mildly ashamed of myself that I didn’t have more patience going into most of those meetings. But if I’m being honest, I was surprised by the number of parents whose (constant) questions made me feel like we were at preschool orientation and not COLLEGE FRESHMAN orientation. That’s…weird, you guys.
Don’t get me wrong…I get it. This is a new situation for MANY of us. I AM OBVIOUSLY HAVING A HARD TIME SAYING GOODBYE. ::SOB::
But while I’m going to miss this kid of mine SO MUCH, I know that she’s going to be just fine without me. Let me say that again: SHE’S GOING TO BE JUST FINE WITHOUT ME.
Therein lies the rub for many of parents.
When our kids are little, it’s hard to imagine a time when they won’t need us. In fact, sometimes, our identities are wrapped up in all things parenting. We do everything for them. We cut their food…read them stories…wipe their bums. To the point that we can’t wait for them to be able to things for themselves. OMG the freedom(!) of those Saturday mornings when they get to the point when they can get their own breakfast without destroying the kitchen and you get to sleep in a few more minutes! It’s glorious!
It’s an excellent start to their independence.
For the parents AND the kids.
Don’t get me wrong, I still do a lot for my kids. I can’t decide if it’s because I’m a control freak or if it’s just easier if I do it myself. But, in turn, they also do a lot for me. I do know it’s not a balanced system…but it’s a system that basically works. Usually. Most of the time. Well, it’s a system I feel pretty good about as I send my kid off on her own.
I’m actually kinda proud of that. Even if sometimes it feels REALLY weird that we are already here.
You see, I don’t really need to worry about whether or not she’ll make it to class or what she’ll eat. I know she (mostly) respects how this money situation works. I know that she will have clothes to wear because she’s done her own laundry for the past 10 years. (Now I’m going to spend the rest of my days worried that I just jinxed everything. THAT’S HOW MY BRAIN WORKS.)
Will she always be good at all of that? NOPE. Will we need to check in with her and remind her of certain things? SOMETIMES. Will she need our help? YUP. Will she make mistakes and screw up? ABSOLUTELY. I just have to hope that she will remember what she’s been taught and that her mistakes won’t land her in jail. (Or worse.) And I have to hope and believe that she’ll learn from her mistakes and learn about herself in the process. That she knows that we’ll be there if she needs it.
Because my job as her parent is to make sure she has a soft place to land…not to prevent her from falling.
I feel like there is this misconception that, as parents, we’re supposed to help our children avoid all obstacles and never fail. Unfortunately, that’s not how real life works. Learning from our mistakes and weaknesses is one of the most important lessons of becoming an adult. It’s when we make mistakes and fail that we know how to get back up and start again. More importantly, we know that we CAN get up and start again.
There was a parent at the end of one of the last meetings that stood up and addressed the other parents. Among other things, he said that our kids were going to be fine. That they were going to need help and that we need to encourage them to ASK FOR HELP and to NOT DO IT FOR THEM. Because that’s how we learned, too. Never have I wanted to hug a stranger more. I settled for thunderous applause. Me and all those other parents like me that were reeeaaaallllyyy tired of the questions from those parents that just had to be sure that their precious snowflake child (ahem, ADULT) would have all the things and all the people to do it for them. (I don’t imagine that going well, but stay tuned.) (And actually, the local fire chief had gotten up to speak and said it was the precious snowflakes he worried about the most even though he didn’t actually say “precious snowflake” at any time.)
Did I learn things at orientation weekend? I did. I learned that move-in weekend will probably be as horrible and chaotic and INSANE as I thought it was going to be. (Logistical nightmare.) I learned that while I have had good conversations with my kids about drugs and alcohol, there were still conversations we needed to have about OTHER students and how their decisions could affect my kids. (When in doubt, get help. Don’t leave yourself open to liability, OMFG.) I learned that the student volunteers think the tumbler they gave the parents is actually free to us. (Idiots. Not even orientation is free. Just stop talking.) I also learned that even though I’m going to miss my kid more than I could ever say, I’m ridiculously proud of her and all her hard work. Okay, I already knew that…but it was nice to be reminded that we did an okay job raising her and that she’s going to have an amazing time…and that we’re all gonna be just fine.