Saturday, December 15, 2007

Letting Go

My younger son has been at college since August. We carted his stuff into the dorm in Tucson, said goodbye and left on our seven-hour drive back to Southern California. His Thanksgiving break was short, so he stayed there (fortunately, his new girlfriend's family invited him home for dinner).

As a result of our driving him to Arizona, he hadn’t been on a plane since last summer, when he went to visit his grandmother in Nashville. On that occasion, I helped him pack on this end and my mother saw him to the airport on the other end.

So, naturally, this week I sent him an e-mail two days before his flight home for Christmas. Don’t forget to check in 24 hours in advance, I cautioned. Make sure you’ve arranged transportation to the airport. And remember not to try to go through security with a Swiss Army knife attached to your key chain the way your older brother did once, because you’ll lose it.

Just a few little reminders.

He wrote back a frosty e-mail. Okay, not that frosty, since it ended with one of those computerized, sideways smiley faces. But he addressed me as mother instead of mom, and even on-line, I could hear the sarcasm in his voice.

He’d already programmed his cell phone to beep him 24 hours before flight time. He knew perfectly well how to pack for a flight. And his girlfriend was driving him to the airport.


I’ve always appreciated the way my parents let go of the reins once I entered college. I flew alone from Nashville to Boston, took a cab to my dorm, and didn’t go home until Christmas. Aside from one visit during my junior year in high school, my parents never came on campus until I graduated.

I was much more self-reliant and highly motivated than my younger son, I tell myself. Nevertheless, it’s clearly time to drop those reins.

That’s what we parents have to do. Watch them like crazy when they’re little, hover on the sidelines while they stagger through adolescence, and then … let them go.

And hope they’ll find their way back again. At least for a visit.

I’m happy to report that he arrived without losing a single piece of luggage. He wasn’t mugged in the airport, he didn’t misplace his laptop, and he easily survived a one-hour delay in his departure, making his connection in Las Vegas with aplomb.

Welcome home, kid. And happy holidays!


catslady said...

Letting them go is probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do. My oldest graduated last year from college and moved 5 hours away with her fiance. My youngest has put in her years at the community college and is planning on leaving next year for the rest of her college years. And I like your comment - hope they’ll find their way back again. At least for a visit.

Estella said...

They grow up so fast. You turn around and they are gone.

Lily said...

I have graduated from colleg and I still live at home!

Nathalie said...

I still live at home... I know it will be difficult for my mom when I decide to leave.