To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The princess is home for winter break. I picked her up at the airport in Orlando this PM and she is now ensconced on the couch, reading and eating popcorn, with the cats studying her.

I am proud of my girl. F has a well-developed sense of self-preservation, and while this has saved R and me many anxious moments that other parents have to go through, it is inconvenient for her at times when it manifests as a little extra apprehension before a new experience. When she and I flew to Florida last year to find a place to live, she became white-faced and had to sit down in the airport in Memphis. Maybe a bit of a panic attack? She didn't say anything about it but just gritted her teeth and rode it out. Today she flew by herself from her college town in Mississippi, changed planes in Atlanta (a very large, busy airport) and arrived at Orlando cool, calm and collected.

Many of F's friends in Memphis stayed there to go to school, some moving to dorms and some continuing to live at home. I told her starting in middle school that she would have to go away to college. She is such a homebody and her dad and I are happy to have her around, and it would have been very easy to shelter her too much, solve problems for her that she should be able to solve, and so forth. Her first semester at school, a 3-hour drive away from Memphis, wasn't the easiest thing in the world but she got through it. Last year and this year she volunteered for the welcome week team, to help incoming freshmen get situated and figure out how to live apart from mommy and daddy.

At 21 you're supposed to be all grown up. It's not that at 21 you know everything and won't make mistakes. It's that you have the tools and also the self-confidence to take responsibility for yourself. Of course we're not going to shove her out in the cold the minute she graduates next May. But I think she has what it takes to make her way in the world.


Nancy said...

It sounds like you raised her really well. I hope I can be as confident letting my son go when the time comes.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

It gets there before you know it.

It's sobering to think of what sometimes happens when kids leave home for the first time. Some go nuts and do stupid, destructive things, and others can't handle the college experience and quietly move back home with a humiliating failure under their belt. I think the trick is to gradually turn over responsibility as the child becomes able to handle it, so that she or he doesn't get a sudden rush of freedom at 18. It takes a lot of judgment and thought. For instance, at some point you don't tell your kid, "OK, sit down and do your homework now" - you let him think to do it or face the consequences at school if he doesn't; but if he's truly floundering due to immaturity, you reel that back in and start scheduling his evenings again, and try turning that loose again later.