Advanced Separation and Hovering Strategies


Last week I attended Senior Separation Night at GC's school. About twenty of us showed up for a poignant evening with the school counselor and the lifeskills teacher (yes, the school offers a lifeskills curriculum, although our son has yet to master the life skill of loading a dishwasher).

I cannot share specifics about what anyone said, of course. But I can say that all of us are more freaked about separating from our kids than they are about leaving us.  We sat in a circle and participated in a council, each sharing a memory about how it felt for us to leave home at age eighteen. There were a few emotional moments, but the common theme was that we had all separated with a heartfelt "Hasta Luego, Mom and Dad - Will be sure to call every Sunday, if there's not too long a line for the dorm phone."

So off they go, and here we stay.  Suddenly we are left pining away for them, waiting for them to call.  One mom said she already feels the onset of an unrequited love of sorts, compared to what she knew before. That is all I can tell you about the evening. Otherwise, I'd have to kill you. But I can say that what's in store for us doesn't seem nearly as appealing as what's in store for them.  

And…as involved as we are in our kids' lives now, it didn't seem as if anyone in the room was in danger of becoming a Velcro parent (even more attached than a hovering helicopter) once our kids are in college.  Or will we? 

A piece today in Salon discusses the extreme overparenting of kids.  A professor/mom at Drexel University discloses that her two daughters attend school where she teaches, but she doesn't even know which courses they're taking, and when they text asking for dandruff shampoo, it's just a joke.  Here is what she's observed:

- Out-of-control use of the plural pronoun "we" during the application process.

- Parents requesting to attend advising meetings

- Parents who spend hours watching surveillance cameras at their kids' schools, hoping for a sighting

- One humiliated boy had to take a photo of himself in the library holding up a newspaper with the current date, as in a hostage situation, because his mom did not believe he was actually studying.

- And.."The vast majority of my students talk to their parents three times a day or more."

Wait a minute! Our son CJ has never phoned us thrice in a day. In fact, he has only called three times since January 8th, when he returned to school for the spring semester.  And two of those calls (from random friends' phones) were to let us know that he had lost his phone!  I reread the Salon piece.  Could it be that the Drexel kids come from more neurotic cities than Los Angeles?  I can honestly say that I do not know one parent who spends his or her day watching campus surveillance footage.  Here is what we do instead:

- Use the pronoun "we" when discussing our pilates classmates

- Gather up the nerve to to online to glance at our kids' schedules, only to find out they have changed their passwords

- Force our kids to take photos holding up newspapers to prove that they are at least reading something, after all the money we've spent on their education

- Spend hours screening our friends' movies, so we can say something nice, hoping they'll give our kids a killer summer internship  

We do, however, text our sons and daughters.  But it's usually to remind them NOT to read texts while driving.


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