The long trip back to college

I’ve had a busy semester. It’s been a long 16 weeks. I’m worn out from challenging tests, ten-page papers, and formal research-based presentations. I need a break.

No, I haven’t taken a test or written in a blue book in years. I haven’t laid out my research or outlined any long term papers. I haven’t even stepped foot into a college auditorium.


Instead, I’ve been on the sidelines watching my daughter. I’ve watched as she’s gone off to college and created a whole new life for herself. I’ve been the one on the other end of the phone asking about how she did the previous week and what tests or projects she has coming up over the next couple of days.

Oh I’m careful to watch that I don’t become a helicopter parent, one of those parents who take an overprotective interest in their life of their kids. I know that when I went off to college I needed space to make and learn from my own mistakes. And boy did I make a ton of mistakes. I needed that time to figure out who and what I was. I needed to see on my own that college wasn’t cheap and it was up to me to make something of my life.

So I’ve tried to step back, but I’ve still found myself trying to protect her. I’ve still had my instances of fatherly failure. Need an example?

I was sitting in a meeting at work recently. It was an important meeting, one where I needed to present my best foot forward. I was giving an update on a key project that I’ve been managing for the past year. Everything was going well. I was getting the buy-in my project needed. People were shaking their heads and agreeing with what I what I was saying. I should have been jumping for joy. Instead, I looked down at my watch. Of course, my project sponsor, the guy I’m trying to build a strong relationship with, noticed the look of concern on my face and asked what was wrong.

“Um, it’s just test time.”

Huh. Fortunately for me, no one heard me mumble under my breadth and I quickly regained my footing and the meeting. However, I couldn’t help but laugh. Test time? My daughter was the one with the test. Not me.

In any event, I’ve found that I have to let go and let all of my kids have their successes . . . and not so great successes. And isn’t that what parenting is all about.

So to my daughter, good luck  . . . but remember to ask questions in class; go to your prof’s office hours; proof-read your paper before you hand it in; stay ahead in the reading; highlight the book, but don’t highlight it too much; thumb through your notes before every class; and blah, blah, blah, blah.

See, I told you this “parenting thing” was tough.



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