So I’m back to being all alone until I leave for France. Okay, not completely alone–my parents are obviously still here–but Jared has officially flown the nest. It’s kind of sad if you think about it. He is going to be a first year Blue Devil! For anyone who doesn’t know what that means, it means he’ll be attending Duke University. We’re all really proud of him. He doesn’t know what he wants to do right now, like what he wants to major in, but I know he’ll figure it out. Hell, I still haven’t declared anything.
Duke, like most other colleges and universities, doesn’t move in until the 21st or so but they do have these pre-orientation programs for incoming freshmen. These programs are an opportunity for freshmen to meet other freshmen that share some of the same interests. They’re the two weeks right before move in and the actual orientation. There’s different types, like there’s a hiking one, a “waves” one (I think that’s sailing and stuff), a volunteer/community one, etc. Jared applied, and got accepted, for the hiking program. Mom and I drove him up Monday afternoon and then we dropped him off around lunch on Tuesday. I know he was looking forward to it beforehand but the closer we got to getting there and dropping him off, the more nervous I think he got. The long drive and not having as much sleep as he’d have liked also played parts in his grumpy mood I’m sure but essentially I think he’s a bit like me. When it’s a new situation where we’re kind of out of our element and nervous, we both just kind of shut down.
While that reaction may be a bit knee-jerkish, I don’t think it eases our mother’s state of mind any. On the way home, Mom talked about what it was like when she and Dad moved me into my dorm last year (we’ve talked of this moment before, but dropping Jared off I think it was at the forefront of Mom’s mind more. Not to mention that I think we both posed similiar pictures.) She fretted all the way back to our aunt’s house and when talking to our relatives that night over dinner. I remember feeling super nervous moving in and worried about making friends. The first or second night I remember seriously asking myself why I chose to come to an all-girls school and wondering if I’d made a huge mistake. Mom says that the image that she remembers most is after we’d said goodbye, watching me trudge across campus with my head down looking all forlone (her words). For any parents about to send their own kids off to college for the first time, no fear, I made friends (later that night actually) and things got better. Jared, by the time we dropped him off, was a little irritable and snappish. He didn’t talk much and if he was nervous, seeing a group of about 6 six girls walking with arms linked singing probably didn’t help (they were other ADVENTUREers. ADVENTURE* being the name of the hiking program). The counselors or whoever the people with the black and white ADVENTURE were really nice and helped get Jared’s bag out of the car. I don’t think he was quite as bad as I probably was but he did seem a little reluctant in giving us each a hug goodbye in front of the counselor people.
We talked on and off about Jared on the drive home. Mom fretted about how he’ll fit in at Duke and how the hiking will be if it continued to rain while they were gone. We ran a few errands earlier today and Mom mentioned when we got back that seeing Jared’s car in the driveway she thought oh, Jared’s home but that she then remembered oh, no he’s not. I think it’s going to be hard on her. Jared is her last kid to go off to college. And then I leave for France a week after we take all of his stuff up to Duke and move him in. In all honesty, I don’t know what Mom is gonna do. She’s been busy this summer with work and getting Jared ready for TWB (a three-week cross-country road trip that he did earlier this summer. Teens Westward Bound is a program based out of Davidson, NC that you have to be recommended for and then apply to, to go. The waiting list this year was 200 people long.) not to mention helping me with my Visa stuff so I don’t think she’s really thought about it much. She’ll have Dad and our cat, Socks, but it won’t be the same. For the last several years life at our house has been about soccer games and swim meets, band performances and award ceremonies, summer camp and youth retreats; it’ll be a big change to go from being almost constanly busy to not.
I found a quote that I think fits nicely. “The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.”
I like to think that my parents gave my brother and me that and so much more.
*name has been changed upon request