Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How is a puppy similar to a 17-year-old boy?

Here’s Scout sneaking out of my office with the keys. She’s ready to hit the road. My son, with less than two weeks on his drivers’ license, wanted to drive two hours to Logan Airport in Boston on his own.

It was actually my idea for him to check out colleges solo. There is much more to campus life than what one sees on a tour. My son stayed with a friend who had gone to his high school. They had kept in touch via Facebook. I wanted him to not only see this college, but also to see that college is fun. He got to attend lectures and stayed in a dorm overnight. There were no parents.

Back when I was in high school, I had stayed with friends when checking out colleges. It was an invaluable education. I learned first hand that a coed dorm might be okay but not a coed bathroom. Frat parties were not my idea of fun. I applied early to the school where students had heated debates over philosophical ideas in their dorm rooms. I would not be the only geek on campus. There isn’t one right school for everyone; it’s more of an idiosyncratic match.

From NYC it was easy to visit colleges, but the journey is longer from Maine. I was okay with my son flying alone, but driving into Logan Airport, parking and making a flight would be stressful even for a seasoned traveler. When my husband drove down to Boston with our son, a smoking truck blinded them. Its engine was on fire. They took a wrong turn, but still made the flight on time. My son took the bus back to Maine on his return. I’m sure if you asked him, he’d say he could have done it all on his own.

If I left the front door open, Scout would run out into the street. I would be responsible. My puppy doesn’t know any better, but my son is a cautious, thoughtful boy. Part of me identifies with his desire to be free, even to make his own mistakes. I’ve let the leash extend 700 miles, but I’m not ready to let the boy go. That will happen only too soon, in less than two years. I think parents need to grow even faster than teens do at this stage.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!


Anonymous said...

Indeed, tell him that he's still not out of nappies! :-) Oh, I could see myself reflected in your post even though my teenage son is four years younger. But he's already developed that bravado of wanting to do things on his own and proving to the whole world that he's capable. You were right not to let him drive, park at the airport and then take a flight. It's enough stress for us adults, imagine a 17-year-old. Then, again, teenagers are individuals and some other readers of your blog will probably disagree with me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Greetings from London.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for signing as anonymous. For some reason the system is not letting me use my A Cuban In London login. :-(

Have a nice one, anyway!

Greetings from London.

Cat said...

Parents must grow up faster at this stage indeed! These past couple of years have taught me a tremendous amount about trust and biting my tongue. My daughter is flying home tonight. It was to be an easy arrangement. A shuttle from school to the airport and home. She didn't schedule the shuttle in time ;/ She assures me she has it under control. Praying she does and she turns up at the airport tonight as planned!

I think it's wonderful that your son was able to go and experience a bit of college life on his own. Deep down he probably appreciated the ride to the airport ;)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Sarah. We have much to be thankful for!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

You're so right about parents needing to grow, too. When someone has been your responsibility for so long (and owns a piece of your heart) it's hard to let go. It sounds like all will be well for you and your son during this transition. Have a wonderful holiday.

Cid said...

Wow, I couldn't even imagine the drive from Maine to Logan at age 17. I hated doing it when I was 30! Great idea, though to see college life sans parents. Will file that one for reference in a few years.

troutbirder said...

I do think you've got the right balance there. Maybe the similarity is like what I have for my big puppy. An "invisible fence." Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Sarah. :)

Amanda Summer said...

i appreciate the way you respect your son's need to be independent as well as your trust in him, and totally agree with your philosophy about how to visit colleges. both my kids spent nights at colleges they were considering and it made all the difference in their choice. congratulations to your son for handling himself so maturely and to you for having faith in his abilities! i will be a bit white knuckled today as my youngest prepares to drive over 7 1/2 hours from college to home for thanksgiving, but like you, i feel lucky to have a very mature and responsible son.

thanksgiving blessings to you and yours, sarah.

Carol said...

Very insightful and beautiful post Sarah. Have a lovely Thanksgiving holiday! Carol

Les said...

I am growing as well. We are on a similar journey as you are, only a few years behind. My son got to go to Duke last week, just for the day, as part of a middle school field trip. He was very impressed. They also toured another school nearby, which will be nameless, as he did not have nice things to say.

Sarah Laurence said...

All, the kids and I are in NYC visiting family (my British husband stayed home with grading and puppy) for the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving to the Yanks! It’s sunny in NYC. Maine got a half a foot of snow on Wednesday.

ACIL, the teen years go very fast in more ways than one. Greeting from NYC.

Cat and Amanda, I hope your children made it home all right.

Tricia, so true.

Cid, I still find it daunting.

Troutbirder, except for the electric shock…

Carol, to you too!

Les, that’s nice that their school takes the kids on campus visits.

Rose said...

This brought back some memories, Sarah--we let my daughter drive 120 miles for a college visit, along with her friend, and before they returned home, an ice storm hit the area. When she called us, we told her to find the nearest motel and wait until the roads were clear--we hadn't intended for this to be an overnight trip, but we didn't want her to wind up in a ditch! It's hard to let them go off on their own, but I think these early steps help to prepare us for when they leave home for good. Still, I shed some tears at every one of those steps.

By the way, when I went off to college, coed dorms weren't even an option:)

Hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Donna said...

Your analogy here is such a good one.
I both dread and look forward to the day when my kids will be old enough to drive and to start checking out colleges.
It sounds like it's a good thing your husband drove him down to Logan! I'm 31 and still scared to drive to Logan by myself!
I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

What a wise post, Sarah. I hope a zillion parents read it.

cynthia newberry martin said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you! My son will hear from his college of choice in 11 days...