Your college freshman is home! You are so proud. Hell, he graduated from high school and got into college, all in this past year. Wow!
However, the first winter break for college Freshman is a very long, exhausting break. And, not just for the parents. These kids come home and try and reconnect with every friend they’ve had since middle school, cram in visits with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all while trying to catch up on their coveted sleep. You can try and set up dentist and doctor appointments, but don’t have your heart set on it. And, parents, get ready to roll out all of the old mantras all over again. “Don’t drink. Call me if you do. Don’t do drugs. We will come get you whatever time. Remember what happened to___________” (insert your local tragic teen story here…sadly, there are too many.)
It seems that many of these newbie young adults revert right back to that high school mentality of living in the moment and throwing consequence to the wind. Life is a party! Even worse, they don’t have jobs or school responsibilities to keep them on any kind of schedule. Over the long break, the college-ness begins to wear off. I keep wondering, where is that college kid we saw at Parents Weekend back in October? The one that knew his way around Boston, walked confidently through the school, actually woke up and met us for brunch? Will he be showing up again soon? Or does he only reside in Boston?
It has come up more than once, these past few weeks, the idea of which childhood relationships are real and which are just being kept alive through the magic and wonder of Facebook. Just because a “friend” posts a party on FB doesn’t mean everyone has to show up. The fact that we were having these discussion made me feel that these savvy kids know the difference. Every evening, I watch our kids’ beautiful faces illuminate with that bluish hue of their iPhone screens, as they scroll all of the possibilities for the night. Then, in a very non committal tone, The Boy: Well, ‘so and so’ is going to ‘so and where’ and there’s a bunch of people going, so I might meet up with them. Me: Oh? I don’t remember ‘so and so’. The Boy: Mom, remember? Sophomore year. That guy.
That guy. Oh, sure. THAT guy. Wow! With these communication skills, we are almost right back in high school. I will give credit by saying “almost”. He actually used words, not monosyllabic grunts. I have always tried to parent our teens with my memory of being a teen close at hand. I never wanted to condemn their friends, their choice of dates or any of their ideas. (Except for piercings and tattoos. 2 out of 4 heard me.) I remember what it felt like when my parents didn’t understand.”Oh, my God! You, like, have no idea of what MY life is like! You are so lame! I’m, like, so embarrassed for you.” (yeah, yeah… I grew up in the 80’s, whatever.)
So, I do remember being home on Friday nights, thinking I might be missing a party where the cute boy I liked might be. But with FB, you KNOW you are missing the party and you can actually see pictures of the cute boy you like, when you are reading it on Facebook…at home…on a Friday night…like some loser!
I get it, really I do. I guess I just want my super amazing parenting skills to wash over The Boy and have him mature now. I keep thinking I will have this deep conversation with him and he will have that Oprah “Aha Moment”. Everything that I am trying to protect him from: mistakes from poor decisions, speeding tickets, hangovers from cheap beer…they are exactly the experiences he needs to learn, to grow and to finally mature.
This morning, early for a Sunday, I picked him up at a friends house where he had “crashed” for the night. He got in the car and said “Mom, thank you so much for picking me up. I really appreciate it. I’m sorry it is so early.” We got home, made breakfast and then he asked his dad if he wanted to watch a movie with him.
3 steps forward.