Friday, August 19, 2011

Sending a Child Away to School

He stood there by himself looking kind of forlorn. I took one last glance over my shoulder at my incredibly smart, gifted, and talented son standing by a lamp post near the dorm that will be his home for the next nine months. The summer day was sunny and warm.

Despite the numbers of fellow university students and family members wandering around, my normally confident son looked lonely and unsure. Part of the problem is that none of his close friends (of which he has many) will be attending the same university. He had options to attend the universities where most of his friends are going, but none of those schools offered the kind of program in which my son is (at present) interested.

I had various mixed emotions as my wife and I walked to our vehicle. Despite my son's uncertainty, I was completely certain that he would be just fine. It never takes him long to find friends in new situations. I was pretty sure that he would start some great friendships before the evening was out.

For my part, I was in a hurry to get on the road. I knew that we'd be battling rush hour traffic part of the way and I had a commitment to keep at home. Besides, it's not as if my son is stuck on a remote campus. He's planning to come home over Labor Day weekend. Our regular course of activities will bring us close enough to see him at school from time to time as well.

Thinking of a similar situation from my younger days, I started to remember how I felt. I was a little homesick for the first few days. But I was soon so engulfed in my new duties that much of the uncertainty quickly faded. Sure, there were new and different things to deal with. But like almost everyone else, I quickly learned to cope. I am quite confident that my son's experience will be similar; perhaps even better.

Moving away from home into a university dormitory is a huge step in my son's young life. Moving a child out of our home was somewhat of a step for me too, but I was more focused on the tasks to which I need to attend over the next few days. Getting my son to the university and getting back home was one of the tasks, but hardly the only one that is significant.

I wrote a few weeks ago about my Mom putting her home of half a century on the market. We followed the realtor's advice. Mom got a credible offer on the home a week after the sign went in the front yard. That's a very rapid turn over in the current real estate market. The realtor obviously knows what he is doing.

Ever since getting the offer, Mom has been looking intensely at homes. She keeps changing her mind about what kind of home she should get. She actually made an offer on a beautiful home. I was thinking that she and Dad should have moved into a home like that eight years ago when they returned from their mission. Mom is still in pretty good shape for her age, but the home is likely too much for her to care for at present. Mom sensed this too. She ended up withdrawing her offer.

But we still have to get Mom moved out of her current home by the end of the month. We have moved a bit of stuff at a time to a storage unit. But there is still a fair amount of stuff that has to go. Since Mom hasn't decided on a new residence, we are making arrangements for her to live temporarily with family. That means sorting out what can go into storage and what Mom absolutely must take with her. Then when Mom decides where to live we will have to move everything again.

The situation with Mom is only one of the things that is keeping us hopping at present. There are so many end-of-summer and start-of-school events going on that we barely have time to breathe. Getting my son moved to the university turned into just another current in this huge stream of events.

I must say, however, that I am very proud of my son. He has worked hard in school. He starts at the university with a year and a half of college credit already under his belt. The entire floor of his dormitory is reserved for students that have been accepted into the university's honors program. Despite his academic focus, my son managed to enjoy social life in high school. I'm certain that this pattern will continue in his university life.

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