Other parents share their touching experiences.
In "How to Survive Getting Your Kid Into College,
" we asked parents about saying goodbye to their college-bound children. To help you through your own farewells, we offer the following excerpts from the book.
ONE OF THE MORE TOUCHING MOMENTS with my son was when I took him for his college physical. We went to the pediatrician who had cared for him since he was a baby. Because the doctor no longer sees them after they turn 18, it was my son’s last visit. I asked him if he had any parting advice. He was so kind and articulate, having just passed through this phase with his own children. He advised my son to learn to use his time well and not to procrastinate, telling him that he would have much more free time and no one to keep him to a schedule. And he said, “Let your mom do all those little things she needs to do this summer, helping you get ready. It’s just her way of letting you go.” Then he turned to me and I can’t remember exactly what he said (I was pretty choked up by this time), but essentially he said to give my son the space he needed and to not over-manage the process. It was so nice.
UTICA, NEW YORK
BOTH GIRLS HANDLED their goodbyes differently. Our eldest was surly and rude. She was impatient and demanding and then abruptly “set us free” by telling us we could leave. I was very angry but had to contain my reaction in front of her. I knew she was nervous and she did not want to appear so.
And it was important to us to let her do this her way. My husband and I got in the car and I vented at him for the next four hours. Things did get better from there. Our younger daughter’s experience was smoother. Perhaps it had to do with her personality or knowing that her sister loved college and she would, too. And as parents, we were three years older. Experience makes it easier.
HIGHLAND, NEW YORK
WHEN MY SON WAS PREPARING for college, he said, “Mom, I don’t even know how to cook.” So a bunch of moms from a group of 14 friends organized a day where all the parents could impart their final words of wisdom.
We came up with a list of all the things the kids need to know before they go away to college. Four of us volunteered our homes. At my house we learned how to clean a toilet—I mean, when else are you going to teach your kid how to clean a toilet? We taught them how to sew a button, how to iron a shirt,
how to change a tire, and how to check the fluid in the car. They also learned the essential skill of how to do laundry. A doctor taught
them basic first aid.
They learned basic cooking and had to make a salad and cookies. But before they made their salad and cookies someone met them at the grocery store, where they learned how to choose produce and to shop for the ingredients for the meal they were going to prepare. At the end of the day, all of the boys brought their salads and cookies back to our house where my husband taught them how to grill. All the parents came over and we had a potluck that night.
WHAT REMAINS WITH ME constantly is the day I took her to the airport. I
drove, and three of her best friends came with us. I let them say their goodbyes first. The four of them were so choked up and had tears in their eyes, and it just melted my heart. At that moment, seeing the deep and solid connections she had with these girls gave me the strength to let her go. I knew that she would find new friends at school that would be able to give her the emotional support she needed in tough times. I knew if she could build friendships like the ones she did in high school that she would not be alone.