Life changes

It is official, I have a college student. Not a part-time, want to be college student, a full-blown full-time college student. This is the real deal people.

I am a mix of emotions. Any parent should be. I think I am handling this better than Ben is, however. I will be honest with you that as this is getting more and more real, I am a little more sad about it.

True confession though, I am really excited for him.

I am not your ordinary parent, I have decided. I have always celebrated the big milestones. They are supposed to be excited. This is what we are supposed to do. Our job as parents is to get this tiny humans we have been entrusted with as stewards (aka: parents) all the way to adulthood.

Guess what? I do not enjoy feeling inadequate. If my soul purpose in parenthood is to make sure that this tiny human is to also reach adulthood, then should I be sad when another milestone is reached? I think not. I have always thought that sadness meant that I had done something wrong. Reaching those milestones meant that I was doing something right. I was celebrating that!


Yes, I celebrated in the parking lot when I dropped this very same child off for his first day of kindergarten. I went and picked up my mother and we went and had a celebratory breakfast. It was a happy day. Was I sad to be away from my child all day? Sure, but I knew without a doubt that he was where he needed to be that day and his accomplishments were more important than my temporary separation anxiety.

Oh wait…maybe our sadness is not sadness at all but anxiety to be away from the things we love most? Maybe we care so much for these tiny humans we suffer the same fate as them just on a different scale? Maybe we should keep that in perspective and help keep things in check the next time they hit a big milestone. It is not them that is the problem, it is us…

Today, my child no longer needed me. Any anxiety was mine. I will be honest with you, I was excited for him today. After sitting through the “Welcome to the University of North Texas” orientation session for both parents and students, I knew Andrew had made the right choice for this point in his life. The university is catering to the students and helping to fix parental anxiety problems. They believe in just ripping that band-aid right off. After watching some of the parents around me, ripping it off was the only thing that was going to help.

This picture was taken right before dinner on the first day of Freshman orientation. We had been in different sessions for parents and students. We were told we were meeting back up with our students for dinner and we should sit down with our students and discuss the things they had heard in their previous sessions. I had sent Andrew a text message telling him where I was. I know he knew where I was because he did respond. This picture indicates how well the text messages were received, or rather how badly I was needed by this point in the day. Andrew is the tall young man in the blue shirt in the middle of the picture with his head looking to the green wall. He walked right past me.

They broke the kids up into small groups. We were told that there were about 600 freshmen here for orientation in the parent session for this week (there are multiple weeks). They will do everything together in these groups over the orientation period of 3 days. They will go to all their orientation sessions, learn about the university, take tours, etc. They will mostly be together for the next 3 days until they start the academic advising and registration process. The goal was to get all the kids working together as a group and ultimately they will know several kids on campus when they arrive back in the fall.

Unfortunately, some of the groups had a harder time getting to know each other from the sounds of it. Instead of the students being able to sit with their parents they had to sit with their student groups. I understand why they did this. I was only a little annoyed. There were parents that were upset about it. I understand why they were upset about it. Frankly the cafeteria where they had us was too small for the group they had in there – all at one time. The amount of chaos for the amount of time we were allotted. Just not a fantastic idea. Then to change the plan on unsuspecting parents. Not a great idea. Then to serve sub-par food on top of that. Yep, you had some grumpy parents.

Overall the parent orientation experience was just fine. I did not have any complaints about the check in process, parking, or anything like that. My only complaint was that I felt the subject matter for the orientation sessions was a little sparse and ultimately unnecessary. By the third time I had heard the same thing mentioned in depth, I was done. I did not want to hear it again. I still had 2 more days of this and you guessed it, the same topic was on the agenda again for the next 2 days. Boring!

I just did not return for the next 2 days except where I was needed. That was the last day for advising and registration. Parents were not allowed to participate in the advising and registration process but I wanted to sit down and talk with Andrew about the classes he was planning on taking and what his though process was. Mostly I did not want him loading up on an 18 hour semester his first semester out. I wanted him to pay attention to those little courses that say they are 1 hour but really involve several hours of study, lab, or rehearsal time. He had picked a reasonable schedule.

In the end all we missed out on was the parking permit on campus because he was running all over campus trying to get his pre-req courses cleared by the various department heads because his AP and IB test scores were not reported yet. We will take care of that.

But there you have it, Andrew is a college student now and I am excited for him.

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