Guest Column

September 7, 2013

Dropping son off at college an emotional experience

Our oldest son was in second grade the first time that he spent a night away from home. As he left, I realized that our children had never been apart for a night. My husband and I had been away from them, but they were always together. Moreover, our two oldest boys shared a double bed. This would be the first night that they slept solo. I remarked to my husband that while losing us would be tough for them, losing each other might be worse.

Many of you know that our middle son has left for college; what you may not know is that this was our first “drop-off.” My stepdaughter was brought to college by her mother and stepfather. Our oldest son commutes from an apartment attached to our house. So, this delivering of our offspring was new.

It touched my heart to know that we needed two vehicles for the process; not because of possessions, but because of the number of people wanting to accompany him — and wanting to snoop. As our grim convoy traveled to his abode-to-be, the foreshadow of a whole lot of missing prevailed. I reminded myself that we were blessed to be losing him only to adulthood.

Upon arrival, the first thing to be set up was a gift from our oldest son: a console designed for antique Nintendo games. These games were a huge part of our kids’ childhood. Throughout the unpacking, people took turns playing the system, delighting in the bits of nostalgia. Cries of, “Do you remember this?” and theme music that was the background for a million family moments resonated a little too deeply. The full circle of it made me edgy.

Our black comedy was underscored by hyper bodies running hither and yon, screaming excitedly as they explored their brother’s home. A Greek chorus of “Oohs” and “Aahs” could be heard at each discovery. The bedlam served as a marked counterpoint for my husband’s silent determination to untie, set and perfectly position each item as he purposefully delayed our departure. At the height of his compulsion, I heard our oldest son laughingly protest, “Dad, I think he can open his own razor package!”

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