If your summer goes by the college academic year and not by the traditional calendar, then it will come as no surprise that summer is coming to an end regardless of the actual dates.
And life as you finally got used to it, at least for these past few months, is also coming to an end (again).
The chaotic schedule that you just got used to dancing around? Done.
The arguments over bathroom use (and cleanliness)? Done.
The frustrations over whether chores were done, or rather, not done. Also done.
My daughter is packing up. She’s got a spreadsheet for what she needs for the coming year. She’s making the last of her doctor appointments; is scheduling her before-classes-start-again haircut; and is trying to sync our schedules for shopping trips in whatever minutes still exist for whatever items require my opinion until we get there and I am told that my opinion is even better if I don’t voice it. I am about to really like everything she likes. (And mostly I will.)
She’s ready to go.
The weird thing is: I’m ready for her to go.
No, I’m not.
Wait: yes, I am.
Except when I’m not.
That’s the thing about this parenting gig. It’s confusing as hell.
You raise your kids from tantrum to tantrum (which by the way just shifts in style but continues at every age) to become independent. You wait for them to be independent adult tantrum-ers (did you honestly believe that adults don’t tantrum?).
And then they have the nerve to actually grow up. Mostly exactly as planned. Many go to college, come home, go back, come home again, go back again. For four or more years. Back and forth. And they grow up in these tiny-but-tremendous ways when you aren’t actually watching as you used to because you aren't actually there.
They confuse the hell out of you as they get older and demand (rightfully so) more freedom and the prerogative to be able to make more adult decisions even as they are not 25 (that magical age where the decision-making part of their brain actually matures).
They challenge your personal growth as a parent so that you must learn to parent the young adult (who sometimes returns home with their young adult very close friend who will sleep where?? . . . ) and then let them return to college only to grow up more and get even older and ever closer to that mid-twenty mark. You need to let them grow their way into it and not arrive either totally unprepared or totally over-prepared. There is some weird speed limit that parenting police can’t figure out how to monitor. It’s an under-the-radar kind of thing, I suspect. It may involve a TARDIS. I think my kids know.
They aren’t telling.
My home faces another 9 months of readjusted peace paired with the odd grief as we miss the daughter and the sibling and the friend. Litter pans and early cat feedings are all on those of us left behind again.
Retrieving mail? Us.
Arguing over what movie to watch? Less eventful.
Someone to hang with after work? We are one down.
And on our own again. My daughter is either oblivious or just thinks we can make it without her. We can. We will.
And she can, too. Make it through, that is. Without us.
In fact, when we see her again, we will all have grown up a little bit more.
Oh, yeah, and here are those 4 (+1) Exit / End of Summer Rules for her:
- Call home. Don’t just text. Call. And video conference. It matters.
- Clean. Chores turn out to be a good year-round thing to do even if your mom isn’t checking up on you. (Trust me: when your bathroom isn’t hairy and truly disgusting, your date might actually actually ask you out again . . . oh wait, did I just write that?!)
- Find good people. Professors. Friends. And hang out occasionally. (And define “occasionally” with maturity that equals your current age.)
- Work. In class. And outside of class. And sometimes for pay; sometimes not. Balance with fun and random moments of attending on-campus events that you may never have an opportunity to go to again. Maybe a ukelele-cello duet concert will actually turn into an unexpectedly fun evening. Just sayin'.
And the “+1”:
- Come home. Because we love you and we will miss you. So even as you continue to move away and grow up in the process, always know that you can come home.
Now it’s just the small matter of how to pack the car.
Oh, and making hotel reservations for graduation. (Who knew I had to do that 4 years ago?!)
Definitely not ready for summer to end.