It is mid August of 2006 and all the recently-graduated seniors are getting ready to push off to universities and colleges across the nation. They are about to mount the first rung of their new seniority ladder, having just jumped from the top of the smaller HS ladder into that refreshing swimming pool of accomplishment. Having taken the NesTea Plunge (dating myself here, anyone remember Dandy Don Meredith and his NesTea Plunge?), these second-time freshmen have now toweled off and are abuzz with anticipation. Here is a new ladder, curiously bigger and more substantial, that sits before them. They are going off to college and life will never be the same.
Fun? Of course.
Educational? In many more ways than one.
Successful? We hope.
It will never be the same for these new freshmen. In maybe more profound ways, it will never be the same for their parents. While we talk about growing these kids up and prepping them for life beyond SLHS; while we wonder when they are going to grow up; while we want them to take care of themselves and to problem-solve on their own, to figure-it-out (a favorite thing for me to tell my new freshman)...our home will never be the same without them flubbing it up, leaving the milk out, not cleaning up after themselves, asking for movie money and last minute "Can Tim and Nate sleep over?"s.
Recently I have reflected much on this launching of a child. Too much, maybe. I keep coming up with this: I liken sending a "child" off to college (and thusly life) without us to losing a tooth as an adult, with no dentist in town to replace it. You know, one of those big incisors, where it's really noticeable. We have other teeth, and we have utensils to help us get the job done. But we will never be the same. It's just that time of life. Another ticket punched, another tooth lost.
The other day my oldest boy (Bud) was packing up for school and found a box of laundry detergent that my wife (Cathy) had put with his collection of take-to-college stuff. It was a different product than what we use at home, but it was a perfectly fine, competitive brand, it was on sale and it smelled good. The conversation....
Bud: "Mom, what is this?"
Cathy: "That's the detergent I bought for you."
Bud: "But it's not the kind we use?"
Cathy: "No, but it smelled good and it was on sale."
Bud: "Mom, I don't care if it smells good, I want it to smell like home."
It's that time of life and it is bittersweet.