My husband and I are sitting in the huge auditorium at a college in Massachusetts, visiting with our son who is a Junior and our daughter who is a Sophomore in High School. It’s the first college tour for me and I am both in awe and incredulous. Like an ice-cold hand pressing on a sunburned body. Shock. Excitement. Surreal. An out-of-body experience and, the new reality that is your life. The first college tour ever is probably the one you, (more than your son and daughter) will remember, because after all these years, your baby, your first-born is really, truly, thinking about college; and eventually, sooner rather than later, is going. Gone are the Mommy and Me classes, the grade school performances, the middle school musicals.This is being a Junior in HS, this is big.
As much as the focus is on the student you will find, as I did, there is a moment of part regression, part longing that whispers into your ear “Why can’t I go to college for four years and have fun and study? I sat through talk after talk, part of me knowing now how much fun college was but not appreciating it back then. I listened intently as they spoke about community involvement, special clubs, volunteering. It was all I could do not to raise my hand. But this wasn’t about me, this was about my son.
Watching your baby (and they are all our babies) sitting in the auditorium, intently listening to the Admissions Officer or Student Guide talk is fascinating in itself, regardless of what school you are in. The baby whose hands you clasped just minutes ago, to cross the street, is the one bounding up the stairs with a bold grin to be on a tour with a student who is also a Volunteer Ambulance Corp and an EMT. That’s a connection, something your child is passionate about; something that at this college exists.
My point is that irregardless of the all too familiar campus spiel (and after a while they do all sound the same) and how great this and that college is, there may be a pivotal, random moment (and it could be ANYTHING) that will have your son and daughter make his or her mind up in half of one second. You will know it when you see it, your child will absolutely glow. It could be the food in the cafeteria, or a particularly nice day outside or what the girls are wearing on campus. This is what I am here to tell you as we get started in the process. It may not make sense to you, but it will for your child. That one second buzz word (like Volunteer Ambulance Corp and EMT) could have been the moment his decision was made. It could be made in a blink of an eye or a particularly sunny day, or the french fries in the cafeteria. What they are looking for and most certainly find, is a spark, a connection, the right buzz word for your child. If you know your kid, you can’t miss it and you won’t. It most certainly doesn’t mean he or she will get in but it will be a moment to remember. Pay attention to it.
Go, little bird, fly away and be happy. You and I both know I will cry when you leave; saying good-bye is not one of my strong points. All parents really want, is for you to be happy, be safe and come home to visit even if you bring your dirty laundry. We’ll take what we can before we send you out back again into your new exciting life, away from us, in your new fun-filled, marvelous world.