Many years ago, when my oldest son was a toddler, I was watching a show on Oprah about Empty Nester’s. About half way into the show, I became somewhat hysterical. At the time, I had a UPS driver who was kind of excitable but loved Billy to death. SO, that particular day, my driver came in to see me falling apart and all I could say was “Billy” and sobbed uncontrollably. Well, Ricky, our driver, a good ole boy from SC was scared to death and ran to his nursery to see Billy cooing. Puzzled, but relieved, he came downstairs to me to see what was my problem. I continued my crying fest, wailing “SOME DAY”, still overwhelmed with what it was going to be like when my sweet little son went off to college. I was hormonal (pregnant again) but still, that show hit me like a brick. Luckily he was pretty close when he went off to school but it was pretty hard none the less. My kids loved the story and would always tease me “Mommy, Someday” and fake tears. Trust me, it always got me started and them a laugh.
Flash forward to now. After a really nice summer we get to say goodbye again to our son. It really is hard to let go of the deep love for them when they leave. You find yourself looking around the corner, expecting them to trample down the stairs and miss the socks on the floor, although not that you have to smell them to see if they never got into the drawer (God forbid) or onto the foot.
We have had to take extra care with my son because of issues with both ADHD and the crippling difficulties he some times had in his high school starting, finishing, not restarting homework or papers. He has medical issues too so he has had to take off time on Medical Leave to get everything in control. Yet I am really amazed at how well his University works with him. They have excellent services and even though the student has to go and make the appointments it sure is different that when I was in college.
On many other levels, we have also had an excellent summer because this year we decided, due to medical issues, that it would be better if he didn’t work. That was of course after he did not make a deadline to get back to the company that was going to hire him. (Another difficulty with ADHD students, remembering to check their phone, appointment calendars and messages). “Take the semester off, you deserve it” my husband said. So in many ways, after years and years of numerous AP classes and year round studies, we all felt that the pressure of an Ivy League school wasn’t pretty and he needed to face the start of the new fall semester fresh. (Boy are his classes hard – I know, my husband and I sat in on one and thought the math professor was definitely speaking in foreign tongues, but alas – Calc5).
So instead, he helped me tremendously with our new website, with his own hours until he found his own routine, let his hair grow and stopped biting his nails. I am fairly certain too that he played enough video games to NEVER touch them again (though he is good about not doing so at UPenn), He also learned (because there are consequences after all) that working like he did for a small amount of money wasn’t as good as what he will be able to do in terms of a salary when he graduates. Good lesson for a Millennial who would have LOVED to gone clothes shopping for new clothes for back-to-school, when the clothes you like are totally different than the ones you can afford. Although he never had any doubts about wanting to finish college, I believe he was learning that budgeting is different that all the things you truly want. (He’s actually quite good at it).
So, for the first time, my son really took off from studying – likely when school became super serious for him> For example, in 2nd grade he took 6th grade math and read on an 8th grade level. He was always pushing himself, competing with his other academic friends which was good. He did a lot of work for me this past vacation, even helping with packing orders, and learning to prepare meals then cook them rather than me having to think about that during the week, was a great relief for me. Next summer he is doing an internship and like his past full time job at Disney, will be doing the 9 to 5 but honestly, he is so excited to be doing it in a field that he loves – building robots and mechanical engineering stuff for a mapping image company. I am sure with each paycheck he will be going to the stores and checking out the clothes and then running over to the outlet malls and putting the math together of how much time it took him to earn that shirt.
A talk this week with a customer raising 4 girls (omg, the wedding costs) made me realize that our generation never really got the lessons in finance but in my house, if we wanted something, we worked for it. I loved skiing – and from the time I was 13 when I made $.88 cents an hour plus tips, every ski ticket I bought cost me x amount of labor. I am glad he took off time to learn this valuable lesson – true he didn’t work a full forty hours a week but he did learn that video games get boring and clothes are expensive. This year, he also will live in a dorm suite with less cafeteria time and more in room kitchen cooking. I know he is going to do great. But, “someday” is back again and we will miss his smile every morning. Well, his idea of morning that is.