I can’t tell you how many photographs of my oldest that I have looked at, or how many times I’ve looked at them. I’ve had to turn off the radio and drive in silence – or listen to soca exclusively – to keep from hearing a line in a song that makes my eyes well up with tears. Even old school soca takes me back to his famous "diaper wine" at Atlanta Carnival back in 2000, so I can't really escape. Truth be told, I never really thought about how hard it would be to let him go when the time came for him to leave for college.
There are so many things that I feel like I haven’t done for him that I should have. One that was really bothering me was that he hadn’t ridden a horse. We took care of that in epic fashion, so that is off of my list. My. List. That’s right. I have a list.
You spend the years making sure that they eat right, make it to doctor’s appointments, get all their shots, play a sport, play an instrument, learn how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, can sing-spell Mississippi, and can catch a football.
Come graduation time, you start thinking about all of the things that you hope you didn’t forget to teach them how to do. Hundreds of things go through your mind, and keep you up at night wondering exactly how much you can get done in six weeks.
Here is my list of things that I have to make sure he learns to do in the little bit of time I have left with him under my roof.
1. Budget his time. My husband and I still remind him when he should go to bed, and give him a specific time to get up and do his chores, based on what he has to do that next day. I hope that he will be able to do that on his own in college, when he has to work around school and other obligations.
2. Admit when he is wrong. We are always up for a healthy debate around here, but that doesn’t usually work with professors. Sometimes you have to admit that they are right, you are wrong, and move on. The relationship with the professor is usually worth more than being right. I mean, you don’t even get a trophy.
3. Fight for his beliefs. Even though admitting when he is wrong will probably come in handy with certain professors, fighting for that grade or something necessary and deserved may also happen at some point in the next four years. We have been transparent with our struggles with supervisors and professors, and I hope that we dealt with them gracefully enough for him to learn from our decisions.
4. Take his clothes to the dry cleaners. I haven’t had him come with me to take in the dry cleaning, so I’ll have to show him how all that goes before he leaves. He’ll be in business school, so he has to stay sharp.
5. Leave room for the fun stuff. I expect, if his college experience is anything like mine was, that these will be some of the best years of his life before he becomes a parent. I hope that we have taught him that there is value in work, but also in play. I hope that he schedules time to play intramural sports, go to the movies, and play a game of chess. I pray that we taught him to work hard, but also enjoy his life.
6. Document everything. We have tons and tons of photos of him over the years – from infancy to this amazing moment. I hope that he takes a lot of photos and can look back on his time in college with his friends and smile. I am so glad that we had the opportunity to document his growth into the young man he is today, including the photos in this post.
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Do you have child who is leaving/has left for college? What do you wish you had taught them before they went? What do you wish you knew before you went away to school? Share your experience in the comments!