Strange Family Conversation IV (or Parental Rambling I)

18 March, 2008

My son (the tree-hater (or at least, the tree-runner-overer)) is involved with a school program studying the Susquehanna watershed.  Today, he was learning about mine drainage (the Tang coloured water (and if you remember Tang, you are not old, just mature)).  One of the state park rangers asked if everyone in the group knew what a metaphor was.  My son managed to bite his tongue and did not blurt out, “So the cows can eat grass.”  The fact that he was able to control himself shows a glimmer of maturity.  Just a glimmer, but it is there.

My wife and I find it very unfair that, just as he becomes a human being, capable of thought, empathy and insight, humour (and controlling said humour), he will be leaving for college.  I know that my job as a parent is to guide that sqauwling little Churchillian mass of strange odours and sounds to a responsible adulthood.  I know that my ultimate goal is for him to leave home and become a productive and fulfilled member of the adult world.  He has not been in trouble with the law, for which my wife an I can take a little bit of credit (more credit goes to him — we have never been doctinaire about right and wrong, instead we have given him the full information and trusted him to make the right decision).  He can be trusted with a good knife or a soldering iron (with only the occasional cut, and no fires).  I know that this burgeoning maturity (which for so many years looked as though it would never appear), which makes him so enjoyable to be with, is also a sign that he will be leaving the nest.  To quote Dr. Henry Jones (in the move “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”), “You left just when you got interesting.”  That’s the way I feel.  He has gotten interesting, and he will be going to college in September.

On the other hand, our grocery bill will drop by a third.  He will no longer be raiding my box of modelling supplies (no, not that kind of modelling — styrene (and other materials) kits).  He will no longer be burning eggs onto my Calphalon pans.  My history books will no longer be disappearing (instead, I’ll be mailing them book rate out to Clarion).

If I put the reasons I will be happy to see him go on one side of the scale, and the reasons I will be sad to see him go on the other, the sadness seems to be winning out (though if he keeps hitting trees with the mini van, well, . . . . .).  I find myself surprised that I feel this way.  The trials and tribulations of raising an intelligent, accepting and free-thinking individual in a theistic world, which seemed so difficult at the time, passed by too quickly.  Far too quickly. 

 Part of me feels a great deal of pride in his maturity.  I also feel as if my wife and I have spent a great deal of the time as combination cheerleaders/spectators:  supporting him in his endeavors, providing him with information, hoping that, with that information, he makes the right choices.  How much of his maturity, his humanity, is the input of my wife and I?  How much was giving him room to be who he is?  I have no idea.

Incidents like the one today, when he choked back the (funny) smart-ass comment, give me hope for his future.  It is only five months until he heads out to college.  Five months seems like an awfully short period of time.  He’s a good kid and I’m going to miss him when he goes.

Of course he may be on the boomerang plan, in which case, he will be back.  Possibly more than once.  We’ll see.



  1. Dude, that was a cool post.

    My son starts HS this fall and, while it’s not the same, I have some of the same feelings. Have I done enough to prepare him for the crazy ride that is HS? Will he think before he acts? Will I be able to hold him close even as I push him away (I think you know what I mean?). He’s such a cool kid and his humor brightens my world. (An example of his dry humor: Remember the scene in LOTR:TTT when the king buries his kid? He looks over at me and says, “Bong! Bring out yer dead!” He was ten at the time. My, how I laughed . . . )

    Hold on loosely, my friend. It’ll be harder for you than for him, I guarantee it.

  2. My youngest son will be going to college in September too. He will be leaving in June to spend the summer with a drum and bugle corps. I’ve been sorting feelings similar to yours for several weeks now. I’m proud of him. I’m pleased for him. I want to see him grow up. Yet, I sometimes miss the little boy.

    Having been both a child and a parent, I’ve learned that being a parent is more rewarding than being a child, but it’s also much more difficult to do.

  3. “…our grocery bill will drop by a third.”

    When my brother and I had both left for college, my mother had a particularly embarassing “empty-nest” moment. She was in the grocery store and picked up the usual box of Pop-Tarts, realized she didn’t need to buy them anymore and broke down crying in the middle of the aisle. 🙂

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