Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Love Is Knowing When to Leave Your Kids Alone

Weekend before last I had the pleasure of attending the Accepted Student's Reception at SUNY New Paltz. I took my 13 year old with me for moral support. It was a lot a fun even though most people assumed my daughter was the soon-to-be first year student (they don't use the term freshman anymore) and I was just another overly anxious parent. These next couple of years as a college student are going to be a lot of fun.

I graduated from high school back in 1985 and headed off to college pretty much on my own. I went to early registration sometime in early July all by my lonesome. I don't even think my parents took me to the Amtrack station. This was pre-cell phone or other parental tracking devices. My parents told me to call them when I got to the campus. Did I have any idea of how far the train was from the campus? No. Did I know anyone in the town? No. Was I worried? Not in the least.

My parents were excited I was off to college but as far as they were concerned this was my thing. They weren't involved in what classes I was taking. They saw my dorm once when they dropped me off, kissed my cheek and told me to write. They didn't even stay long enough to take me to my last non-cafeteria dinner. This was pretty much the norm for most people I knew. My husband's family sent him by bus from Illionois to NYC. Another one of my friends was also sent by bus with one suitcase. It's not like that anymore.

Some where along the way, parents have absolutely lost their mind. I had one father nearly knock me off my feet as he raced to the Communications and Media table while his son shuffled along with a mixture of embarrassment and boredom. It was like this for most of the day. Parents were interrogating administrators and professors while their kids stood mute and bored.

I sat in on English class (which was great by the way and I'm definitely going to add one of this professors classes to my schedule). Naively I figured it would be students who would be sitting in, instead it was mostly parents. The professor actually had to ask the parents to let the students answer the questions.

Here are some of my favorite doosies:

"Are the classes always this warm because my son is prone to heat rashes."

"Does my daughter have to take these first year classes because she's incredibly brilliant and we don't want her intellectual ability to be stifled."

"Do teachers regularly ask so many questions in classes?"

"We're not fond of early morning classes." (I love parents who use the royal we when referring to their children.)

There were a few beacons of hope where a student would take the lead as the parent/s held back but this was not the norm. It was all about the parents on this day. Parents elbowing their way to the buffet tables, dragging their offspring before the chairman of the department as they reeled off the god-like attributes of their young geniuses, grabbing for every hand-out because it was free and it was offered.

Oh boy, I can't wait to get to school in the fall with the progeny of all this parental anxiety.

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