This business of being a parent to a senior in high school is difficult, and I don’t even have one of those kids who’s involved in a million different activities. He’s not driving, he doesn’t have a job or a girlfriend, and he doesn’t even hang out with his friends outside of school. I’m lucky. I get to actually have him around.
Ok, so it’s not like we bond over hot cocoa and play scrabble, or take long walks around the neighborhood together, but he’s here. Yes, there’s a certain amount of badgering on my part (where’s your retainer? can you please pick up that towel? when are you going to walk the dog?) and a certain amount of grunting on his part, but I know where he is and what he’s doing. What will happen this time next year? Will I be able to handle it? I only have one kid, so it’s not like anyone will step up to fill the void once he heads off to the dorms (but in what state?).
Sure, it’s true that he’s gone quite regularly (as in weekly) to spend time with his father, but somehow that’s different. For one thing I’ve had a couple of years to get used to it. For another, the longest stretch that he’s ever away is four days, every other week. I can handle that. College is a lot longer than four days, and at the end, he’s not supposed to come back. I mean to stay, anyway. At least hopefully not.
In the meantime, there’s this craziness of getting in all the applications. Frankly it’s stressing me out. Not because of the deadlines, either, because I know that if I don’t stay on him it won’t get done. What does that say about college? Following is a list of questions that trouble me. Hopefully other parents who have lived through this
nightmare process can talk me off the ledge.
- Will he be that freshman who NEVER washes his bedsheets?
- Will be brush his teeth?
- Will he lose his retainer the first week?
- Or will he throw his retainer away?
- Or will he be done with the stupid retainer by the time he goes to college?
- Will he EVER call me?
- Will he EVER pick up the phone when I call him?
- Will he make friends?
- Will he study enough?
- Will he go to his classes?
- Will he know enough to not schedule early morning classes?
- Will he even have a choice in his schedule as a freshman?
- Will there be co-ed bathrooms?
- How do I feel about co-ed bathrooms?
- How does he feel about co-ed bathrooms?
- What will happen if he runs out of toothpaste?
- Why am I so obsessed with his teeth?
- Why is he so nonchalant about his teeth?
- Why is he so nonchalant about deadlines?
- Will he actually be admitted to a college that he really wants to go to?
- Will he ever admit to being excited about any college?
- How will we pay for college?
- Will he receive any of these scholarships that I’m making him apply for?
- How do people pay for college without getting into tremendous amounts of debt?
- Will he make the most of his college experience?
and a bonus question
How will I survive this transition?
The truth of the matter is that no matter how much I worry, he’s going to do what he’s going to do. So far his choices have been mostly good. Still, I’m a mother, so that means my default mode is worry, but I need to remind myself that up until now he’s been about a million times better than I ever was at his age, and I survived college. Oh sure, there are a few instances that I will never ever admit to, but by the time I was a senior, I figured out how to get on the dean’s list (here’s the secret: don’t just do the assignments, actually go to class). But I was a SENIOR! He’s only going to be a freshman. My baby!
In the meantime, I’m going to insist on reviewing his essays before he hits the send button, and I’m going to hound him about that stupid retainer (I think I may hate it almost as much as he does). This stretch of life is a little complicated and full of unknowns, but I’m going to try my best to enjoy it, because I know it will be gone in an instant, and then there’s no going back.