As hard as the last couple of months felt with all the commotion of graduations and parties and birthdays, I fear that nothing is going to compare to the day that I have to drive my 17 year old to college and say good-bye to her as she starts her new adventure without me.
Of course I know the day is coming whether I like it or not, so I’m doing what I can to prepare for it. Today, Tony and I attended what they call “Parent Drive-In”. It was basically a primer on what to expect when sending your kid off to school. I was skeptical when we got there, thinking it was going to be a bunch of useless talk about things we already knew, but it turned out to be very informative and made me both excited and nervous for her.
I was happy to hear about all the clubs/groups and organizations that the campus offered as well as outside learning experiences. They have a club for just about everything you can think of and even offer free entertainment for the students on the weekends.
They talked about campus rules/regulations and about the parties and drinking that occurs. One dad said “You mean that the kids will bring alcohol into the rooms?” Uhh…yeah, dad. That’s probably going to happen. He’s got a whole lot of learning to do, that one. Oh, and another mom asked if there was a curfew. A curfew? Seriously. These are “adults” here people…they gotta figure crap out on their own at some point.
I do sympathize with those parents because it really is hard to believe that your kid is now going to have to make responsible decisions on their own. I understand their fears. I also know that anyone reading this who actually knows me is probably shocked at my cynicism, considering my stricter parenting methods...but while I may be “stricter” than some, I am not naïve.
They talked a lot about how to continue to parent your child while they in turn learned to grow. How to give advice without solving their problems, and how to focus on being more of a source of comfort, assurance and guidance. I’ve really been trying to be more of this person this year, and especially this summer. I’m attempting to be less controlling and allow her to make her own decisions, but I have to admit, it’s tough. Tough because I still want her to need me the way she used to…
I’d like to be more of a friend at this point rather than parent/disciplinarian, and I think I’m doing a pretty good job. Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t say yes every time she asks me to do something, but I feel that she has few limitations at this stage. We are trying to let her be an adult, just one with some kind of boundaries. Does she have a curfew? Yes, but it’s very flexible. Did she get to go on a week long trip to the beach with no adult supervision. No. (Still a decision I stand behind 100%) Does she go out/have someone over nearly every day of the week. Yes. Does she go to work? Yes, faithfully. Is she able to grab a friend or her boyfriend and take a trip somewhere for the day. Yes.
I guess some people would be appalled by these rules when she is 17 years old, but for me, it’s all about baby steps. Growing up with boundaries, at least initially. For the most part, I feel like Zoe is accepting of our rules and is generally okay having some type of limitations, but she does get upset when I tell her she can’t do something. (After all, no one likes to be told no.) Sometimes I just feel like it’s okay to ask your kids to help out around the house instead of running off all the time. Sometimes, it’s even okay to say no just because you think they need a break, even when they don’t realize it.
I guess the most important thing for me, as a parent, is to let Zoe spread her wings and show me who she is. If she goes out into this world being an honest, caring human with strong morals and values, then I’ll feel like I’ve done my job. If she continues to include me in her life because loves me, then I’ll feel like I’ve done my job well.