Everyone warned us our teenager would push our buttons in the weeks leading up to her departure for college. We have had our share of friction. What 18 year-old wants to be told she should spend more time with her family? Or that she really needs to clean up the pigsty she calls her bedroom? Or that it makes me nervous that she’s heading into the city by train late at night (even if she’s with her boyfriend)?
The truth is, it’s hard for parents like me to completely relinquish control, even though I know I will have to, four days from now. But as much as I know we will all miss her when she’s gone (and she certainly will miss us), I’ve stumbled upon some clear signs that the time really has come to say buh-bye to our firstborn child.
1. The obstacle course in her bedroom is making its way into other rooms.
(Some semblance of order needs to be restored – soon).
2. We rarely see her for dinner anymore. Instead, we see lots of these:
Money for eating out and take-out has to be running low by now.
3. Clothing that she probably forgot she had is suddenly in the laundry.
Apparently her roommate is more deserving of seeing these clothes on her and seeing them freshly laundered.
4. She’s restless.
I’m willing to bet August 31st is one of the last college move-in dates in New England. Most kids have left for college by now. Most local kids have gone back to school,too. Summer’s winding down. Even watching reruns of Friends and One Tree Hill is getting old.
5. Everything is suddenly a last. And every last comes with an emotional parting.
…. the last time she’ll see Grammy/Papa/Auntie/her cousins/this friend/that friend/co-workers/her boyfriend’s family/her boyfriend’s dog/this beach/this coffee shop… despite the fact that her college is only a 2-hour drive from home.
6. Her little sister has set a deadline, for any clothes that have been borrowed from her to be returned.
The battle between sisters who wear the same size clothing is fierce and seemingly endless in our house, even though we all know they love — and will miss — each other.
But there is one sign-that-it’s-time-to-say-good-bye that makes me smile:
7. She’s taking charge of the next phase of her life.
At some point, all parents will have to cut the umbilical chord and watch to see if the young adult they’ve raised can successfully fly solo.
These past few weeks, I’ve witnessed a young lady scheduling her yearly physical, speaking with her adviser, renting books online, buying dorm room and school supplies with her own money, writing thank you notes, and making sure she spends quality time with the friends and relatives she loves so much.
Yes, even us.