Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The heading-to-college caravan

Driving on SR 15 Saturday afternoon, I couldn't help notice several caravans heading to move-in day for some college – or at least that’s the conclusion I reached.

One in particular caught my imagination. “Dad” was driving a pickup loaded with what appeared to be either a sofa or a futon covered with a tarp. Right on his tail was this cute little yellow car. Its driver, a young lady with straight blond hair, chewing her fingernails.

She was so close to the pickup that I assumed as soon as he moved back into the right lane that she would zip on by him. Instead as soon as there was (barely) enough room between the pickup and the vehicle being passed she too moved to the right lane, never leaving more than three feet between the two vehicles.

At that point I noticed a third vehicle in the caravan, a mini-van, drove by “mom.” She was leaving a reasonable amount of space between her and the little yellow car, but definitely not enough to invite anybody to get between them.

Caravans much like this one will be heading to Bluffton on Friday. Parents will be bringing their first, their last, their only child to college. Students will be relying on one parent, two parents, siblings or extended family to help settle in.

If I might be so bold to give a bit of advice from the realm of “been there, done that.”

Dad, look in the rearview. See that little girl/beautiful young lady afraid to lose you? I know you want to hold her tight and never let her go. But for her sake, she has to know that you know she can do this – on her own. Of course you can do nothing to keep her from tailgating right now, but encourage her to be courageous, to set her own destination and find her own way.

Mom, why is it that we are always in the rear, counting heads, making sure nobody gets off track? Your daughter may not make the same choices you would. She may change majors, she may decide to take a semester abroad, she may dye her golden locks purple. It’s OK. It’s her journey. Give her advice. But do not insist that she follow your advice. You've given her a firm foundation. She may stumble as she finds her way, but she will find her way.

Daughter, in the cute little yellow car, I know you are nervous. It’s a big step moving away from home. They may not say it, they may have trouble showing it, but your parents are so very proud of you and want the very best for you. And as hard as it is for you to leave, it’s just that hard for them to let you go.

So once the final box is unpacked. When it’s time for goodbye hugs, time for orientation activities to begin. Stand tall, take a deep breath, leave that nest…

But do try to call home at least once a week.

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