This weekend is fall break at my kids’ college. Inclusion of this mid-semester interlude in the school’s calendar actually dates to when I matriculated there. The idea was to give students (and professors?) a two-day respite from the rigors of class.
That may still be the motivation, but I’ve discovered it’s also a chance for parents to take a break from going about our daily lives in blissful ignorance of what our young uns are up to, as we have for the past six weeks. Instead, I find myself revisiting that lifestyle where I worry incessantly about my offspring. When they’re away at school, I hear from them frequently enough, but I don’t know what they’re into at any given moment. Not like when they were in high school and I would have a certain level of tension that wasn’t dispelled until I heard the electric garage door go up, signifying their safe return home.
This weekend my freshman is heading to New York City, taking a train that drops him in the middle of the city at 1:50 a.m. He plans to take a subway to NYU at that point. The last time he rode a New York subway he was a kindergartener.
My senior son is going to visit a friend who lives in downtown D.C. And he’s packing his “just turned legal” identification, having reached the magical age of twenty-one last week.
I ‘ve always liked the quotation:
“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.” (Hodding Carter)
But I’m discovering that at this point in my kids’ lives it’s getting pretty hard to generate new roots in them. My role is increasingly focused on celebrating as they spread their wings. And sometimes it’s hard to stomach the worry that comes along with that.