Thoughts as My Daughter Leaves for College

When they are infants, you know every detail of your child’s life, from how much they slept, to what they ate, to when they bathed – in fact much of your thought revolves around whether or not they pooped that day, and if so, how many times.

When your child reaches pre-school, there comes to be a few hours in the day that they are not with you, but their teacher fills you in on what they did, who they played with, what they ate – and of course whether or not the child pooped.

By Kindergarten, most children are usually at school all day, but the teacher still fills you in on what happened, and how their learning was progressing. The teacher will tell you whether or not your darling ate the lunch you sent, and if pressed, the teacher will tell you whether or not the child pooped. And at this age, you still run their social calendar, so you have some say in who their friends are.

In elementary school, parents volunteer in the classroom and thereby get a look at whom their child chooses to associate with. You may get to know the parents of your children’s friends because they, too, will be volunteering in an effort to see what their kids are up to. It’s usually around this time that you come to rely on your child to tell you what happened during their day, but you still have some input as to who her friends are. If there is a problem however, the teacher will send home a note, or email you. The child will generally tell you if they pooped that day if you ask.

In middle school, your child won’t tell you much, but as they are inexperienced, you can pretty much figure what happened during their day through some wisely placed statements and acting like you don’t care. Also, you can volunteer for carpool. You may not have much say in who they hang out with, but they will still gab openly with their friends at this point. It’s like you’re not even there. Just don’t ask about poop.

In high school, your children become focused individuals. They leave before dawn and return after sunset. You’ll see them when they want food or a ride, (at least until they can drive). You’ll hear about the friends, and these friends may occasionally stop by to hang at your house and eat your food. But don’t be surprised if the names and faces change weekly. As your child starts to figure out who they are, who they associate with will change as well. You may not know or ever even meet the parents. And poop? You’ll only know if you happen to use the bathroom after them.

Then there’s college. They’ll pick a roommate from a university chat group that you are not on. If you are lucky, you’ll see a picture. If you are super lucky, you’ll meet the roommate at orientation – or at move in. You can consider yourself having struck gold if you get to meet the parents of the person your child has chosen to share living space with. You’ll walk your baby around campus and get her familiar with her new home. A home that will not include you or her father or her sibling. A home that will become as familiar and dear to her as the one she grew up in – filled with memories and people that you may never even lay eyes on. You hope she’s safe and smart in her choices.

And she will be. You took her step-by-step into independence. She’s well equipped to know who her friends should be, because you taught her how to choose. If you did your job right, she’ll be happy and will thrive in her new home – and it’s just as it should be. You’ll also never know about the pooping, but let’s be honest, do you really want to know?