Dear Parents of the Class of 2017,
One year ago, I stood where you stand in the count down to high school graduation. I teared up at key events, smiled through the rest with deeply exhaled sighs and nervously contemplated the college drop off day!
Those significant events of graduation, college preparation, packing & leaving my first-born son behind at college was agony at times.
How was I going to survive this next step? I worried my anxieties were going to spoil his summer and aggravate him to the point of causing him worries. Toss in my husband’s concerns, well, we were a pair of anxious parents.
Ladies and gentlemen! We did it. I did it! Kudos to me, my husband and our son! Believe it or not, YOU will do it too!
In a matter of days, my eldest child arrives home from completing his first three-quarters of his first year of college! 30 credits hours completed towards his degree and a paid Summer internship.
He went South just an hour away to attend college out-of-state but he did not make it a suitcase college!
He didn’t come home on the weekends. He didn’t remain in his room watching ESPN 24/7 & playing Clash of Clans on his computer!
Not that I thought he would, but….you could have knocked me over with a feather when he said, “Mom, I’m rushing fraternities!” Wait, WHAT?! My independent son, a friend in all circles but not adhered to any one particular group of friends was going to WHAT? Woah.
So, my child joined a fraternity, two chapter sub-committees, e.g. risk management and the scholarship committee, which he chairs, two professional fraternities, one leadership organization and one service organization. He participated in SGA and continued his love of working out at Lambright Wellness and aquatic center. He played tennis, football and baseball with friends and fraternity brothers while successfully balancing a full course load. He built a life away from home.
In his day job of academics, my son discovered Engineering wasn’t his life choice and switched into the college of Applied Sciences in the pre-med track with focus on the biology and chemistry. STEM is his thing.
My son sought advisors, friends, and department heads in different colleges to explore while weighing his options. Congratulations to him for puzzling through this conundrum to shape his future with a path suitable to his strengths and personality.
He survived and thrived through the “make or break it” classes at Louisiana Tech. Hence, the discovery that engineering is monotonous, boring and not his type of pursuit. Duly noted, STEM is his strength but the tedium of engineering was not. He survived the first quarter engineering classes with his normal take no prisoners attitude intact as he smoothly transitioned into his preferred degree with no detriment to his grades/GPA.
He managed a visit or two, appointments to the health center for minor sinus/chest colds, washed endless laundry, cleaned his apartment countless times, balanced his budget/checking account and he lived through many blurry eyed late night study sessions. As I’m sure his butt print, as many before him, is permanently imprinted in Tolliver from study sessions.
A 1:10 am phone call in the middle of a torrential rainstorm here and down there will invoke terror in your parental hearts but you will be amazed at the calm God gives you to listen and guide. God has your back. Our son suffered a minor fender bender, navigated the police report and insurance process with a forthright approach and calm.
Self assurance and confidence aided our son to adapt to his 3 randomly assigned roommates as they co-existed in their campus apartment without any skirmishes. He learned much about roommate personalities and common space cleanliness. He managed to eat meals and get himself to class. He formed study partners, gained friends, a lovely girlfriend, too. In all this transition, he discovered his next year’s campus apartment mates through those circles of friends. He managed his business.
At no point did we have passwords, or sign on information to any of his college accounts or grades, nor did we ask. We honored his privacy and new-found responsibilities.
Our son scheduled his courses, procured his housing and paid his bill without Mom and Dad holding his hand. This young man of ours managed his own college expenses through his first year with scholarships, monies supplemented from years of odd jobs diligently saved with no student loans and very minor parental supplement.
We savored his chats through texts, calls or visits to discuss or hash out his concerns. Our son included us as he felt inclined and he honestly answered questions we as posed them. He gained so much wisdom through soaring solo as needed. I am sure he felt secure knowing we stood ready to share a meal, give him a quiet place to rest, lend our ears to listen and guide when invited. We watched him continue to grow. He taught us much about himself, the man he’s becoming everyday at college and when he visits home.
So, will you survive this new phase in your child’s life? Yes. Just like those baby to toddler to teenage years. Yes. Only as much as you let go will you gain in return from the fruits of your efforts.
Your child will be fine. You will be fine.
Life continues on and it all works out. I promise this isn’t the end of your relationship, but the very beginning of the new improved chapter! Embrace the new chapter in your child’s life story. Those new discoveries are so very thrilling and thought-provoking, if you hang on loosely with respect.
Hang in there and call us seasoned veterans for sorting out the necessary from the junk. Like those parents before me, we have your back with ears and heart.
Much love and empathy,