In tough parenting moment, give phone to motherIt still seems strange to me for college to start the week before a three-day holiday. That makes one of a college freshman’s first major decisions: “Do I run home for the long weekend, or do I stay on campus for three days with no classes?”
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
It still seems strange to me for college to start the week before a three-day holiday.
That makes one of a college freshman’s first major decisions: “Do I run home for the long weekend, or do I stay on campus for three days with no classes?”
I have friends with college-age grandchildren who faced that dilemma this year. One of the new freshmen supposedly told his folks he wasn’t coming back to Pierre for Labor Day because, “I have 10,000 people to meet.”
Other college students no doubt took advantage of the long weekend to get home and pick up things they’d forgotten the first time or didn’t know they’d need until they and their roommates had the dorm room squared away and discovered what a university provides and what it expects the students to bring.
A week of classes before Labor Day is probably better than having school start right after Labor Day. That’s how it was when one of our kids when off to college. I remember leaving her at Mathews Hall on a Saturday and wondering how in the world she would survive through three long days and nights before the start of classes.
Well, she survived just fine. In fact, she could hardly wait for us to drive away so she could start surviving that long weekend and the start of her college career. We were the ones who struggled, driving quietly home — a long 190-mile trip at a time when the speed limit was 55 mph. I suppose we should have been happy with the time in the car. It was time we weren’t spending in a house with one bedroom empty for the first time in 18 years. We still had two children at home, but somehow things were out of balance for a long while without the third one.
Although we missed that child a great deal, we were comforted to learn she had had a grand, event-filled weekend and was happy in her college classes. She’d been gone for several weeks a couple of summers earlier to a ballet school at the University of Utah, and she had suffered a terrible bout of homesickness. We feared that might happen again. When it didn’t, it almost made up for not having her around the house.
Homesickness is a terrible thing, at once silly and yet almost uncontrollable when it strikes. When we traveled with our oldest child to Brookings for registration or whatever they do in the summer, we sat in on sessions for parents of first-time college students. One session I remember vividly focused on homesickness. One of the speakers was the mother of a large family of children who lived somewhere west of Mitchell. She told a story of taking her oldest child to South Dakota State and having the girl call home in tears, begging her parents to let her leave school and return home.
The mother said she told the daughter that if she waited until the weekend and still wanted to leave school, they’d come and get her. But, she told her daughter that, after the weekend at home, “I will take you to Mitchell where you can start looking for a job and an apartment. You don’t have to go to college, but it’s time for you to start living on your own.”
The mother described the moment as one of the most difficult she’d ever had in raising a family. The daughter stayed through the week, and then another one, and so on.
It was an important story for parents of first-time college students, but it caused me a lot of anxiety, coming as it did not so long after our child’s Utah experience. I spent a good deal of time wondering if I would have the strength — or whatever it is it would take — to say those words over the phone to a child sobbing and pleading to come home.
I decided if the call came, I’d give it to Nancy. She couldn’t stand to turn one of her children down any more than I could. But she would. I’m not so sure about me.