College Campus Tours Conjure Concern: Will I Still get that Call?

Last week I had an awesome trip with Number 3 . We visited some universities and went on the first of several college tours to see where he will want to go after his senior year. He and I have enjoyed our alone time, and over the years found ways to have it just be the two of us to run errands or, dinner together while the rest of the family was away.

We are very compatible travel partners. We don’t have to talk a lot. We both enjoy getting caught up in our own music or, for me, sports talk radio. When we do talk, we both are engaged with each other. I recently began to realize how

much I will miss our interaction when he paves his own path next year.

He has a part-time job that keeps him busy and pays for his Xbox points, a habit I refuse to support. We finally came to an agreement that when he gets his paycheck, a major portion goes to the college fund and the rest is “his” to manage.

Most days on his ride home from work he calls me to say “Dad I am on my way home, how was your day.” At times I didn’t appreciate that call as much as I should have, but I have come to anticipate that call and appreciate the fact that he is reaching out to ask me about my day. I will miss those moments. As a side note, he even talks hands free in the car so that he is not distracted; a move he made on his own.

Number 1 and Number 2 are, for the most part, living outside the house on their part of their journey, and that just leaves the two boys at home. I have seen enough to recognize how the relationship shifts a bit when the kids establish a new life outside of the home in which they have grown up. Number 1 doesn’t call as much as she used to, but I am first one on the list if there is a problem or situation that requires dad’s attention. (She still calls mom for the emotional support.) Number 2 has been out of the country for more than threes months now, living her dream and touring with The Young Americans in Europe and Japan. The international calling rates and lack of wifi make it easier to justify that we don ‘t hear from her as much as we used to.

I totally get it, that this is the way things are supposed to go. As parents before us have assured us, your kids are with you for a short amount of time; you hope you have trained them well and given them the skills they need to survive and thrive on their own. While we may not agree on the small stuff – the day-to-day rationale of some moments, we are so proud of the women they are becoming.

Number 3 is our oldest boy and seeks affirmation from his dad, which is normal. Sometimes, however I am not always living up to my end of the deal. Yes, I am a lot older than him, but I don’t always have the answers and sometimes I am not sure how I should handle X, Y or Z either. He still loves me regardless – thank goodness.

On our college tours, I have been careful not to influence his decision or show my opinion too much, even through I may have a bias about where he should go based on my own experiences. This has to be his decision: a) It is his future and b) I don’t want to be the fall guy when it turns out that my dreams for him don’t really meet his needs. Number 1 pretty much decided on her own while going on college tours with her aunt, and Number 2 had her mind set since the 6th grade which way her path would lead after high school; therefore, for me, this feels like the first time we are making a big college selection process. I take it seriously, and I want the best fit for him. While I can’t wait to see the next steps for him, I still get the call that says, “Dad I am on my way home, how was your day.”

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