Parent of a High School Graduate

There have been numerous times over the course of my life when I have felt old.  The first time my back gave out quickly comes to mind.   I also began feeling older when I gained weight even with diet and exercise.

But this past weekend put it into an entirely new stratosphere. 

My weekend kicked off on Thursday morning as I made the trek north to take my daughter to her college orientation.  This program goes under the guise of providing information to parents and students as they enter college.  What it really does is drive home the fact that I am closer to retirement than I am to entering the workplace.

When we arrived on campus, parents and children (that’s what they are) walked together toward the auditorium.  It felt like just yesterday when my parents brought me to my college orientation – now here I am partaking in a new family ritual. 

My problem is that many of these parents looked like parents or even grandparents while I still consider myself a 25 year old guy nowhere near old enough to have a child let along a college student. 

Of course, I probably look like many of these parents.  The appearance of age caused by time and worry in both my face and posture.  Time, I can do nothing about.   Worry, on the other hand, caused by money, family health and of course, parenting.   I won’t even begin to discuss my weight.

These same children who brought me joy, happiness and laughter have also provided me with stress, loss of sleep and wrinkles.  {I’d take that deal any day.}

Some of the orientation schedule paired the kids with the parents.  Those sections felt like pep rallies with give-aways, speeches by athletics coaches and bullhorns, bullhorns and more bullhorns.

With the kids on their own to tour the campus, meet with advisors and fill out schedules for summer and fall, the parents had their own presentations.  We heard about financial items, campus life, what our children will expect and we toured the campus, including the dorms.  

Parents had their own give-away.  A couple of presenters began throwing what appeared to be t-shirts into the crowd.  I caught one of the last ones tossed.  Upon grabbing it, I found that it was lighter and had the wrong material to be a t-shirt.  I opened up my new possession and discovered it to be a laundry bag with the school name on it.  It’s something the kids need but they knew enough to give them to the parents.

After 2 days – yes, this went on for 2 days – parents, whom I didn’t know, asked me if I felt the program was too long.  I did, especially during the hour long financial discussion when my jimmy-legs started acting up.  I needed a walk badly.

I have 2 more trips planned to the university this year.  Later this month, I take my daughter to school and help her move into the dorm and get settled for the summer term.  This trip will be the most exhausting and emotional vacation of my life.  It is a weeklong trip where I say goodbye to my daughter for about 6 weeks – the longest I have ever been apart from her AND it is a college tour trip where I take my son on a 5 day – 5 college tour covering 1,500 miles in Florida. 

The other trip is in August where I move her in for the school year.  More stuff, longer time apart and more emotion.  It concludes with a 5 hour drive home . . . alone.

*  *  *  *  *  *

My weekend continued on Saturday – after arriving home from the university, I attended a high school graduation party for my daughter’s boyfriend.  It turned out to be a very nice evening even though I was thoroughly exhausted.

My weekend concluded with Graduation Day!   I literally ran all over town before the graduation {too much to include here} and I was ready for a nap {another sign of age} even before the 3 pm start time.

Since this school has the largest graduating class in the country – over 1,200 students – I knew this ceremony would be L-O-N-G.  Pomp and Circumstance took a while as all twelve hundred students entered the arena to take their seats.  There was about an hour of pre-speeches – the principal, school board members, the valedictorian and salutatorian and a video of well-known people providing well-wishes to the graduating class. 

I brought reading material to keep me occupied during the long announcement of names but found that I was more interested in the kids reactions than I was in my book.

The realization of life as an empty nester (which is a year away) is now in my mind.  My daughter will now mostly only look to me for money and advice.  I know she’ll still appreciate the little things – like the small complement but as she prepares for college in a new city, it has become clear to me that my full parental requirements are no longer needed. 

My daughter has proven to me that she is ready for the challenge of living on her own.  Rather than dwell over this, I will attempt to celebrate this as a job well done by her parenting team and everyone else who touched her life, but most of all – my daughter.  She has developed maturity well beyond her almost 18 years and has tremendous poise.

I will miss seeing her on a regular basis but I look forward to hearing from her with updates as she experiences some of the best years of her life.

My 2 Buck$

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4 responses to “Parent of a High School Graduate

  1. I’ve been following you for a while – you are in my blogroll – and I just had to comment on this post. I also have a daughter – my only child – that will be graduating high school this Sunday. I truly can empathize. While my husband and I are thrilled to be getting back to our life B.C. (before child), we are frought with concern and worry for our girl – who just happens to have turned into a pretty cool woman overnight. Best of luck to you.

  2. Thank you, Kate. Congratulations and best of luck to you as well.

  3. I remember when my youngest left for college. The house became quiet and I felt lost for a while. I had to refocus my life. Change happens. Now I have 4 grandchildren and it is the absolute best!

  4. We just moved my daughter into her dorm and took my son on a tour of Florida colleges. The closest school he is considering is more than 3 hours away so I am 1 year away from the empty nest.
    A friend of mine – same age as me – just had his first child a few months ago. The one thing I can tell you is that I could never start again.
    The hard part of parenting is almost over. The next step is letting go and watching to see what type of adults they develop into. I have to admit, I am looking forward to that.