By Susan Gianiodis
“The days are long, but the years are short.” This line really resonated with me when I read Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project,” but never more than now because in a few months my son will be graduating from high school and getting ready to start college.
This whole college process takes years and starts with batteries of tests. Next is the application process and the long wait to see which colleges will offer him a place in their freshman class.
But now the real planning starts, and decisions have to be made. One is: Do I make his bedroom into a giant closet, or give it to his sister, who is already thinking about what color she wants to repaint it?
Years ago I asked a friend and colleague how she was going to handle her daughter going off to college. Would she be OK? Was there anything I could do? I worried that she would miss her firstborn and need a strong shoulder for support.
She looked at me with a face devoid of all expression and said, “There’s a reason for adolescence.”
I laugh now, and understand in ways that I couldn’t when my son was rosy-cheeked and adorable. Toddlers grow into teenagers who are less compliant, sometimes argumentative and rebellious against parental authority. It is a natural stage for them as they gain independence and prepare to go out into the world and away from home.
Occasionally, when chafing under my authority, my son has muttered he can’t wait to leave. It does hurt my feelings a little, but sometimes I think, well, there is a reason for adolescence.
There are things l need to consider once he leaves home. I need to decide if I should keep my subscriptions to the Distinguished Speaker Series at the Universtiy at Buffalo, and to the Buffalo Philharmonic. My son was always my companion, and I am not sure I can depend on other family members and friends to attend.
Either way, I know I will miss his insightful reflections, and the fun we had together at dinner before these performances.
I will need to start pumping my own gas again, and will have to relearn how to work the snowblower. A stepladder is something I should probably buy because I can’t reach the top shelf where we keep the platters, and I certainly can’t reach the smoke detectors to change the batteries.
Still in his senior year of high school, it feels as though August is far away. I know, though, that these months are going to start flying by.
I have researched online checklists of things to do and buy before college starts, and it is comforting to have a to-do list like I used to have for his summer camping trips. This is something that gives me a sense of involvement and control.
It is hard to step back and let him make the big decisions. The decisions that will not only affect him for the next four years, but for the rest of his life.
He needs to choose the college, and take into consideration the loans he will need to fund his choice. He needs to decide the field of study, and how much of an effort to put into his grades.
I desire for him to have a rich and fulfilling college life, filled with activities and clubs, but that is a decision he will have to make for himself.
The one decision that is still left up to me, however, is what to do with his room once he leaves. My daughter suggests moving his bedroom to the basement.