"We only have 3 weeks left...."
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When he started kindergarten, I remember being worried about 2 things. "If he has to use the potty, where does he have to go? Are the facilities all the way down the hall? Will my 5 year old be wandering the halls alone, trying his hardest not to have an accident while trying to remember which door is the right one?" As it turns out, the brilliant minds who built the school put a restroom in the kindergarten classroom. Problem solved. I also wondered if the students got snack time. Which, of course, they did.
It took years for me to figure out that I had focused on two relatively small issues so I didn't have time to worry about the big stuff, like the fact that my little guy was starting "real" school and would be away for 7 hours a day. Or the fact that we were simultaneously exiting one phase and entering another. Up until that point, I was his main influence in most matters. He had good manners because I enforced it....over and over. He didn't like soda because I didn't allow him to have it. He called adults Mr. or Mrs. because I told him that's how children address grownups. He wore the clothes I bought for him and he had no idea if something was cool or not. But once he entered kindergarten, he was under the influence of others as well. I can look back now and say that's a good thing. A very very good thing. He maintained the polite, friendly, kind heart that I had nurtured while learning about the newly expanded world around him from his teachers and friends.
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I wandered the aisles of Walgreens. Slowly. Glancing at every item. "Paper towels? I don't think so.... but then again what if he spills something. Maybe I'll give him extra hand towels for that? But I should get those cleaning wipes. Cuz if he spills something on the floor like juice, you can't just wipe that up....the floor will be sticky. Oh! Band aids. I almost forgot band aids. I know he's 2 buildings away from the health office, but what if he gets a nasty paper cut after they're closed. But what about an antibiotic cream? Hey look at that. There's little first aid kits on sale and they have everything. Should I get him a full size broom and dustpan or just a little whisk broom? Chapstick. Sometimes he gets dry lips in the winter. I can't forget the ibuprofen, too. Cough drops! He always gets a nasty cough when he has a cold. Might as well get those now so he has them on hand when he gets sick. Why the f*** am I getting teary eyed in the medicine aisle?! Qtips. 3-in-1 body wash, shampoo, face wash. Guys have it so easy. One bottle. Hair product? Nope. Comb? Can't remember what kind he likes. Floss? I hope he flosses. Does he floss? No clue. Don't forget that there's a Wal-Mart near campus. You don't have to buy a year's worth of toiletries. Just a few week's worth. There's nowhere to hang a dry erase board in the dorm room. I'll get post it notes in case he has to leave a note for his roommate. Vitamins? Maybe? His eating habits are decent. I'll ask him. Not spending 15 bucks on vitamins that will just collect dust. I wonder if he'll clean his room sometimes. I don't really want to know. LOL remember the friend that went away to college last year and didn't change his sheets all semester? LOL. Oh lord please don't be the kid who never washes his sheets."
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Sloooooowly I walked the aisles. Trying to think of every possible scenario so he'll be prepared. Focusing on the mundane so I wouldn't have to confront the elephant in aisle 4. He will be surrounded by people who can help him....no matter what the issue. Big problems or small, there are people for him to turn to. Except me. I won't be there. I'll just be a voice on the other end of a phone call. I'll be 5 hours away. 7 during rush hour. And it's okay. It's a tough pill to swallow, but it's okay. I'm not supposed to be the #1 forever.
This is how it's supposed to go.....for him, that is. Not every kid is comfortable with leaving home yet. Turning 18 and graduating from high school aren't magical events. They don't all suddenly grow the nerve to head off into the sunset. We have 4 kids in this family....I can name 2 of them who are most likely NOT moving 5 hours away at the age of 18. And one who will probably hightail it out of here before the ink on the diploma is dry.
But for him? This is exactly how it's supposed to go. This is how our next phase plays out. He is meant to grab onto his future with crazy blind optimism while I stand back thinking, "I don't know if I'm ready." I'm supposed to warn him about all the ways he should be careful while he smiles and says, "I'll be fine."
He will be fine. I know he will. I'm just not sure if I'm ready.....