Yesterday, we sent our first-born, almost-16-year-old daughter off to college. OK, it’s actually a summer program lasting 3 weeks. It certainly felt like sending her off for the real thing, though. We used an actual college packing list. (Here’s one from the College Board.) After all of the packing was complete, she had 2 suitcases full of sheets and towels, surge protectors, laptop equipment, a reading lamp, shower shoes, toiletries, and snacks. Oh, and there were clothes, too. Lots of clothes.
This is the second summer we have done this, and I’m a bit torn about it. Not about whether we made the right decision in sending her. These summer college programs are a great way for her to supplement her homeschool curriculum with time in the lab and in lecture. Part of me is thrilled to get the chance to prepare for real college departure in baby steps. Darling daughter gets an idea of what a dorm room looks like, what it’s like to live with a roommate, how to be responsible for getting her work done and getting to class on time, and how it feels to be away from home. This sneak peek at leaving home should make it all a lot easier when the time comes for the real thing, right?
Another part of me is sad, though. It’s a cliché to say that the time flies by, but it’s so true! We have just 2 more years with her at home. I’m not finished with her yet!! She’s a smart, poised, sensitive young lady; but I’m not ready for her to get the whole picture yet on what a mean, screwed-up world is waiting for her out there. I know we have given her a lot of tools to help discern the right path to take. We’ve shared our Catholic faith and traditional values; we’ve filtered her exposure to toxic media; we’ve worked on building up her self-assuredness. But I really need these next 2 years to prepare her for the reality of how counter-cultural her upbringing has been.
So over the next 3 weeks I’ll be worrying a lot more, adding to my gray hair, and getting my own sneak peek at what it’s like when the babies leave the nest.