On the last day of summer, my son left for college. For me, it’s like being given a bag of dark chocolate candies, but they all have the dreaded coconut filling. I don’t want the summer to end, but I’m really excited about this new chapter in the life of my son and my family. I’m a bit sad, because I will miss him, but on the other hand he is less than 2 hours away. Reaching college is the culmination of a great deal of parenting on the part of Karen and me and a lot of growing up on his part, and yet it’s the start of what I’m sure will prove to be one of the most memorable phases of his life.
I’m not much of a picture-taker. I resisted the urge to grab a camera as he got in the car to leave. I just wanted to hold the image in my head, and at the same time not embarrass him. For some reason I found it funny that he was wearing a UCSC sweatshirt, but I didn’t tell him that. It just seemed a little obvious. I joked with Lara that the logo looked like a label — a tag for a little kid about which school is his destination, as though he wouldn’t remember. I doubt the upperclass students wear the UCSC logo on the first day. He has “freshman” written all over him.
Due to my day job and the fact that it’s Friday, we decided only Karen would go with him for move-in day. He was told he should be there by 8am, so they left at 6am. Karen admitted to me weeks ago she is anxious about him going away and is already experiencing sort of a half-empty nest syndrome. She will probably be sad and emotional after she leaves him. Selfishly, I do not mind missing that aspect of the day. I don’t want to think of it in a negative way. I’m happy for him, and relieved for us that we have at least reached this point. How he performs in college is an entirely different matter that I don’t wish to think about just yet. Besides, his classes don’t start until several days from now….
One of the best things about this summer was that I had so much fun playing games with Erik and his friends. Over the past couple of months, we had quite a few game nights at our house, and it was a blast. Such a great group of young men, and I’m flattered they are comfortable enough having their friend’s dad join the party. Plus, it was true quality time with my son.
For Erik’s part, he has been telling us for years that he wants to get away from home and get away from Lara. Like most college freshman, he is excited and optimistic, as he should be. To some extent, he has little idea of what he is doing; he really does have so much to learn. And I’m convinced at least a part of him deep down inside will miss his sister just a smidgeon. He will be so busy that I doubt he will get homesick, but he may find that he misses his mom’s cooking, our game room, and hanging out with his old friends all summer.
As for Lara, it was cute the way she got up early to see him off, and she even tried to hug him. I’ll wager it’s a mixed bag of emotions for her too. She loves her brother and will miss him, I believe. However, she is no dope; she won’t miss his insults and pestering. Last night we were watching a movie, and she randomly blurted out, “Let’s go to Disneyland without Erik!” Ouch! That’s a cold shot. I thought it was funny, but I gave her a look that said “no way”. She probably wants to knock the wall down and double the size of her bedroom.
I think I will feel like there is a hole in my life for a little while. At the same time, I will not mind having one less mouth to feed and one less kid leaving messes around the house. I’m looking forward to utilizing his bedroom as temporary storage space. We actually need his room to hold Lara’s stuff while I attempt to paint her room. (I mean, this is a project I intended to do years ago, but her room is such a disaster area, there has been no way to get in there.) I’m practical, I can see the benefits of having only 3 people in the house.
He’s such a good guy, though. It will be weird not having him around.
It may be Thanksgiving before I see him again. I want to visit at some point and see his apartment, but he did not seem keen on the idea of parental visits. He needs his space!
So, goodbye Summer! It has been fun, and I will miss you. Hello, Joe College! I can’t wait to see what you do with the rest of your life. What an amazing journey it has been and will continue to be!