Friday, August 17, 2007

10, 9, 8, 7, ...

It's almost here--freshmen move-in day. Oh, yes, we are excited, but the excitement is tinged with sadness because we know what's coming. We know the disillusionment when the realization sets in that college is still school, not 24/7 church camp. We know some students will show up in pink undies and T-shirts because they were trying to save money doing the laundry. They will find out that dorm food is not the all-you-can-eat gourmet fare they were expecting, nor is the cooking as good as Mom's. They will face learning to live with someone from another family with different ways, they'll get unexpectedly poor grades, they'll have disappointing love relationships, and they'll feel the loneliness of being without family in a new place.

We feel, also, for the parents. At our house, we've been through this 3 times, with 1 more to go. We know now that when kids move to college, you never quite get them back. Sure, they'll come home, but it will be as young adults with their own values--not the semi-obedient children who left. And the child who left will never again think of your house as his home--it's a cherished place to visit. Yes, most of the time, this good-bye is The Big One. And it's long anticipated. Once, college was "someday," then "next year," then "next month," and now, "tomorrow." You wonder if you've taught all the right things.

And in good measure, college success is determined by what went on 10 years before. Did he learn responsibility? How about delayed gratification? Is he frugal with his money? Can he hold his tongue? Self-discipline is essential; students without it struggle until this vital lesson is learned.

So we, the staff at college, wait. Tomorrow afternoon the dorms will be filled, the good-byes will be said, and the baby birds will fly (or be pushed) out of the nest. And it's OK--it's as it should be. For all of us, the separation had to happen in order for us to finish growing up. So--

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1--Here we go!