The College Advice

A week ago today, at practically this hour, I was helping my daughter unload boxes and begin her new life. Obviously I share some bits of wisdom…

  1. Throw out your trash every day, especially if there are food remnants
  2. Laundry- don’t let it go more than 10 days
  3. Change your sheets
  4. Don’t open the windows in the rain- your school has a mold issue (coincidentally, the NY Times ran an article about this mold problem a few days after drop off)
  5. Wipe down your bathroom every day- will make a big clean so much easier
  6. If the carpet gets wet, dry it off immediately
  7. Tuck a compact umbrella in your backpack- DC is the new Seattle
  8. Wash your tea mug and such right after you’re done
  9. The RHO has vacuums…….
  10. If your roommate snores, buy ear plugs (FYI- I got an 11:30 text- “I bought earplugs- D snores”)
  11. Go to office hours- your Professors really want to talk to you and answer your questions. Take advantage of the advice and mentoring
  12. Write things down- too many new things to commit to memory
  13. If you use your roommates printer, buy ink occasionally
  14. As soon as you know your schedule, book your Thanksgiving train tickets- gets more expensive as time marches on
  15. Drink water
  16. Don’t drink anything at a party that is just handed to you
  17. Condoms (that conversation is probably a blog or two)
  18. Have fun- it’s ok to do things other than study or prepare for the future
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The First Fight

“I’d love it if she just knocked on her neighbor’s door and introduced herself.” my Husband said. He’d said this phrase about 15 times during the four days of drop off/parent orientation.

“You’re obsessed with her making friends.” I replied.

“WHY WOULDN’T I BE?! I JUST WANT HER TO BE HAPPY!”

We hadn’t even reached the Jersey Turnpike and we’d already had our first empty nest fight.

Seeing my daughter cry when we said good bye unnerved him. He’d already been sad, and that just undid him. I obviously understand his feelings: after all, she’s my baby too….

But here’s the problem. If you talked to my daughter, she was/is not worried about making friends. She was/is worried about academics. My Daughter is used to being the smart one, the kid who got great grades. Now, well, it’s a different fishbowl. Now every student graduated in the top 10% of their class, they all were 99th percentile in standardized tests, they were all captains and presidents and showered with accolades. She’s most worried that she won’t be able to keep up….that’s why she’s anxious.

The friends thing: first off, my daughter has never been the “popular” girl. But, she had friends, good friends, all the way through school. She had kids that she could rely on, who were solid. She might not be a social butterfly, but she is very able to make acquaintances and friendships. This wasn’t really a worry.

“SHE NEEDS TO GO OUT OF HER COMFORT ZONE.” was the next comment he screamed.

I looked over to him. “She’s in a new city and state. She’s sharing a room with someone she met on Friday. She’s about to take college level classes. She needs to find out where the CVS is. Cleaning her own bathroom. Doing her own laundry. Figuring out how best to organize her time now that everything is different.” I took a deep breath. “Do you think any of that is in her comfort zone?”

He relaxed a little.  “It would still be nice if she went out of her way to meet people.”

Which led me to my next thought, which was clearly a bubble in my head because I didn’t want to engage in the introvert/extravert see saw. Why do people think being an introvert is bad? Why do they want to change us? Why is it bad that my daughter has no interest in knocking on people’s doors?

Why does he think my daughter needs to change?

Why can’t he accept who she is?

As a parent, you need to love and accept your child for who they are. If your child is introverted, you can’t make them change. And obviously, there are a thousand other examples of allowing your kids to nurture their nature. They are who they are: accept them, love them and help them become the best person they can be.

On a side note. My daughter has the greatest roommate. She has been hanging out in the floor common room and met a bunch of nice kids. She contacted a girl she met during the roommate search and is meeting her for coffee. She’s doing fine socially.

Classes began yesterday and so far, so good. Her professors seem nice, though she found out that “Bleak House” is a thousand pages long so she’s not too thrilled about that….

And there you go…..

 

 

I still Haven’t Cried

As we said good bye, a big fat tear rolled down a cheek.

But it wasn’t my tear, nor was it a tear of my Husband.

It was my daughter who cried the first tear. My stoic, tough, low on visible emotion daughter.

Who saw that coming? Certainly not me.

There I was, tissues in hand, waiting to bawl my eyes out. But then I saw that tear, I took a deep breath, and I went into Mom mode. I was thankful for all the sports movies I’ve ever seen as I gave the pre game pep talk: I’m so proud of you, you worked so hard for this moment, you are prepared for the battle ahead. I made a self deprecating joke and my daughter followed it up with a wise crack and a smile, and as I hugged her that final time she looked at me and said

“I’m good.”

I gave her a thumbs up and watched her walk away from us, across campus towards her dorm so she could change out of her dress from convocation into an outfit more acceptable for the afternoon orientation events. She didn’t turn back.

It’s then that the whining started. Not my daughter’s: she was practically skipping down the steps. Nor was it from me. It was my husband.

“She could have walked us to the gate.” he said. “She didn’t even turn back around to wave.”

So I didn’t cry. I consoled him. I talked straight to him.

“She needs to make a clean break. She still loves us. But this is the time she needs to become an adult. She needed to walk away from us in the middle of campus. She needed to head off into the future and not look back.”

“Well” he said. “I don’t like it.”

We got back to the hotel and loaded our stuff in the car, saying good bye to the concierge who had been consoling parents all morning. We began to drive north.

I did not cry.

We got home and greeted the pets, ordered Chinese food and put some things away.

I did not cry.

I met my friends for lunch on Monday, Mother’s who had just performed the same dropping off ritual that I had. They cried. I did not.

I dropped off dry cleaning yesterday- my dry cleaner sends her son off to college for the first time on the 30th. I watched her eyes well up as she spoke to me, because we are sisters in this: I know how she is feeling as she knows how I am. As I patted her shoulder I did not get weepy, I did not shed a tear.

Alas, as I spoke to my very special friend last night, I spoke of how I have not cried….yet. I know it will come- it’s inevitable. But I need to still be strong for my daughter. She is adjusting well so far, and I know when classes start today she will get better. She likes the routine that classes and activities give her. Neither one of us does well with unstructured time- we like routines and planners and all things like that. We like busy. So she will shed no more tears. She will thrive in her new environment of new studies and new friends.

Then- it will be my turn to cry.

 

 

I’m Back

I know.

You all missed me.

I needed a little break from blogging. I had so much stuff floating through my head I needed to clear it all out- I needed a break.

But now my daughter is safely tucked into college (expect lots of empty nest posts) and I am emotionally and intellectually  ready to get back into the swing of things. Today is a baby post to get my feet wet, but don’t worry, I’ll be up to speed soon!

I’ve missed you all tremendously and can’t wait to catch up!!!!