The College Drop Off
Hi All, So glad to be back in the blog world after a summer off. This past Saturday I dropped my son off at college. There was, of course, the flood of emotions much like the descent on a roller coaster. You know it’s coming and it’s going to be intense. After we said goodbye, it was in the first few steps that felt so similar to the moment when he boarded his first grade bus ride. I felt vulnerable for all of us; and I realize that I never vetted the bus driver – who was now in charge of my boy’s safety!
Over the past months I recall friends and family telling Jacob, “college is the best time of your life!” and “you will love it!” I never said, “College will mostly be good but you’ll also have the other human emotions too; frustration, sadness, stress …” I found myself wanting, even expecting and demanding, that he’ll be joyful all of the time. It was some paternal, yes irrational, override that just wanted everything to be great all of the time for my child.
During our first conversation from college to home, I asked him about the people he met, his roommates, the campus, the food, and his experiences thus far. He reported honestly that some experiences and people were good, some were neutral and some were not. He must have heard the concern in my voice about the negatives and efforts to consul him. Jacob then said, “Dad, it’s not nirvana, it’s college, it’s real life.”
I felt a weight lifted and smiled. So much time had been spend on talking about the wonderful positive experiences in store for him in college that I forgot about the rest of the human emotionals.
I’m glad that we had many conversations about perseverance, tolerating pain, and that emotions fade over time as they are replaced by present ones. I may have needed that reminder more than he did.
The fall season is a transition for many of us; children back at school, jobs, moves, and the dynamic changes that life has. Bringing my expectations back to reality was a good thing that Jacob did for me. Continue optimism and growth – for sure. Embracing the flow of the full spectrum of emotions and experiences – even better.