Sitting in the new parent orientation session at my daughter’s college check-in, I took a moment to peruse the student newspaper. Lots of useful, mostly predictable information … best deal on text books, tips on getting along with room mates, library services, etc, etc, scan, turn the page, scan, turn the page, scan … THEN WAIT. Say what?! An article about a laundry app stops me dead in my tracks. Are they pulling my leg? There is a smart phone app that tracks real-time washing machine availability on campus? It texts you when one comes free, or even when your load needs to be moved to the dryer. Is this for real? It’s a joke, right?
Somehow, over the past few months, I had managed to bridge the chasm between my own college experiences in northern England in the 70s and this slick, highly orchestrated, luxurious, small liberal arts college in 2013 America. This is totally different, I get it. But this app sent me over the edge again. Have they taken it one step too far? What does all this mollycoddling and hand-holding mean? If there is no hardship, no struggle, can there still be growth? Is this any preparation for the real world ahead? How can I relate this all this?
The answer to that came the next morning as we all said goodbye to our precious young ones after the Family Farewell Breakfast (yes, yet another mollycoddling event for all of us). The final hugs, and words of reassurance sounded the same as they did in another place and another time many decades ago. The sense of hope and expectation was the same. The tears of joy for the opening of a new world and tears of sadness for the closing of an era were surely the same. The nervous, yet brave parting smiles looked the same. The promises of talk-to-you-soon and love-you’s echoing across the campus were the same.
The exterior world does indeed look totally different, and yet our interior world is reassuringly completely the same. Moms and dads are still happy and sad. Students are still excited and nervous. We still love our kids more than they can know. They still love us more than they can say. We still hope they are strong and successful without us. They still hope they can prove themselves to be successful on their own.
Here’s wishing all the college entrants this year all the best. Your moms and dads are cheering you on from the sidelines. Go claim your education! Claim your world!