Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Why is this necessary?

I admit that I am a bit counter-cultural in the following way:  I do not embrace the idea of boarding away for college for every person.  I love the idea, but in reality, well, not everyone is ready for the vast independence that campus life offers.  And not everyone finds the best peer group to rely on for support and counsel.  In my dream-life, college students would be in a place where they can test themselves and their world with significant safety nets.  I'm not sure those safety nets are always as effective as they could be.  About a half-century ago, colleges with a boarding student body, were charged with the responsibility of being in loco parentis, "in the place of a parent".  And I like to think that in many ways, the dorm parents, house mothers, etc., if they truly understood how to be most effective, became an older, wiser guide; slightly detached and overtly more objective than actual parents.   
Today, we know more about adolescent brains -- that abstract reasoning isn't fully formed and judgment hasn't matured (until early-mid-twenties).  And yet, we now view an 18-year-old as an adult.  "Coming of age" used to occur at 21.  That was the age for voting.  It was only lowered to 18 when  it was pointed out that we were drafting and sending 18-21 year olds off to fight wars and possibly be maimed or killed when they couldn't even vote on the people who made the decisions to fight a war. (26th Amendment, 1971)
When I went to college in 1980, the legal drinking age in Massachusetts was 18.  I was 17, but it wasn't an issue.  At all.  I went to the college town bars and was never carded.  Now the legal age is 21 in Mass, and in Maine, where I now live and have 2 college-age sons.  It's hard to gauge if procurement is as easy now as it was then.
This past weekend, a couple of Massachusetts kids came up to the nearby college (less than a mile from our house) to visit a friend.  After some partying, the 2 ran afoul of the campus police, and despite not being chased, they fled the campus and hit a telephone pole at 80mph (in a place where the speed limit transitions from 40 to 30 mph).  The passenger is dead, and the driver, who was only 20, when he recovers from his injuries, faces a handful of serious criminal charges, including manslaughter.
This story could take place anywhere among any group of young people.  But, I can't help but think that it's all about "likelihood"s.  As in "people who lead a sedentary life are more likely to be obese", or "children who read are more likely to become life-long learners".  I believe that young people who have mature adults actively involved in their lives are less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors.  Accidents can happen, but doesn't it make sense to minimize risk for the factors we can control?  Such a fine line we walk as parents...  giving them space and wanting to hover, just the right amount. 
 So, you can imagine the trepidation with which I drove away from our college freshman on Friday.  I have a good deal of confidence that we have raised him well, and covered him with prayer.  He is not an impulsive person, and has never given us reason to doubt his good choices.  But you know that anyone can become of a victim of one bad choice, whether one's own or someone else's.  So I guess you know what my Labor Day weekend was like.
 Other than maternal neurosis, everything was as it should be:  his dorm is an ivy-covered brick building, his dorm room looks like a dorm room, the R.A.'s seem like 2 very nice boys.  (Yes, I said boys, not men--sorry, but it's hard to imagine anyone I could have given birth to as being a "man" or a "woman".  I wonder just how long this mommy denial phase will last?)

This is called "The Ballroom" and is a sort of lounge/study on the first floor of the dorm.  He is housed here with other overflow freshman until rooms and room-mates become available when all the no-shows and enrollee's remorse cases are counted.  This building is scheduled for renovations into office space.
Friendly upperclassmen helping unloading and moving in.
 Welcome to Estabrooke.

 Necessities: long board and D-pole.
For now, he probably actually believes that home is where you hang your hat.
We Mums know better.


Annie said...

A new phase of our lives, which is just around the corner for me...I believe you are right about the parenting and guidance, and we have to have faith in them to do the right thing. All the best for your boy

Lorrie Orr said...

Prayer and faith in God's keeping power are necessities. Our three weathered through, although they lived at home for most of the time.

It gets easier.

Carolyn said...

They do grow up too fast don't they. Hope all goes well for your son.

About the pavement roses -I read that they are called pavement roses because they are so tough they grow along pavement and purple because of a hint of purple in the flower.They are good roses for colder climates.
Thank you for your visit,


Can do mom said...

I'm feeling the weight of your post keenly. Our oldest moved out to go to a university in WI this year. She lived at home last year and went to a community college and while she did well in the classes, overall, was not happy there.

So, she ended up transferring to a college about an hour away from home. So far, she loves it. Doesn't want to come home, isn't homesick at all.

She was bid on by two different sororities and has accepted Delta Zeta and she's very excited about it. Turns out her roommate (also a transfer student) is a DZ girl as well. They have hit if off and love each other. :) All in all, it's been a great move for my girl.

I know that, and I wouldn't want it any other way, but it's a bittersweet time for us moms and families that are left behind. Time moves so quickly, does it not? One moment they are clinging to your hand, the next waving as they walk away. Sigh...

I'm going over there to meet her for breakfast and bring a few things she wants from home. I'm looking forward to seeing what this next stage brings. :)