I wrote a column about my older daughter going off to college, and a therapy session broke out.
Maybe it's what we all needed after saying goodbye to our newly minted college kids or to our high school freshman or middle schoolers or even kindergartners -- maybe especially our kindergartners. Our kids sure don't seem to need therapy. You reported back that as the term begins, your college rookies are buying books, registering for classes, making friends, reassuring you. Yes, they're reassuring you -- the way my daughter Bailey is reassuring me and my wife, Alice.
You also took the time to offer tips, perspective, commiseration and a dose of reality. And four of you offered (more or less) to set my daughter up with your sons (or in one case grandson) who also happen to be starting classes at DePaul. I'm too smart to wade into that, though I'll be sure to pass the names along. As for the non-Match.com letters, it would be selfish to hoard all the warm wishes and good advice, so I'll share.
"Our daughter, Erica, leaves for St. Mary's on Thursday," wrote Mike Dorner of San Jose. "I think that it my case, the best therapy may be to go into her room and throw some of her clothes on the floor. It'll feel like she never left."
OK, in a follow-up, Dorner admitted that he really did miss Erica and added, "It's going to be very interesting to see my next PG&E bill as I shut down all of the
And you know, humor does help, because if you can't laugh, well ...
"Your article today brought back vivid and poignant memories from four years ago," Marian Gericke of San Jose wrote of sending her younger son, A.J., to Cal State Long Beach. "I remember standing in an aisle at the supermarket staring at the pancake mix display. I burst into tears when I realized I should opt for the smaller box instead of the family size."
Gericke says she knows it might sound silly, but it is those little things that bring our new realities home. The best part of Gericke's note about she and her husband joining the ranks of empty nesters? "I want to assure you that we all survived, and even thrived. And so will you!"
Let's go with that.
Karen Pendley, of San Jose, says I should count on it. She sent her son, Daniel, off to Sonoma State University five years ago. She left a note under his pillow the day she said goodbye. "You're going to do great things," it read in part. "And I will always be there to cheer you on!"
He did do great things and got a great job, she wrote to me. Sure, she says, my relationship with Bailey will change as she gets older. "But Bailey is still your daughter and you will grow to embrace the woman she becomes. Enjoy!"
We all know that's how it works: time passes, kids get older, so do we. But in real life, it can be a tad mind-boggling. Consider the experience of Jane Daugherty, of La Selva Beach. She was preparing to help her daughter move into her college dorm when she wrote to me about having gone through all the preliminaries: college tours, comparing tuition costs, shopping for dorm room accessories. "And then the reality hits like a stabbing grief. Last time I checked our (high school) graduate was hoisting her sippy cup."
And it does go quickly. As I wrote in my original column, my off-to-college emotions reminded me of Bailey's move to kindergarten and the column I wrote then. Some of you were kind enough to remember that one from so many years ago, and others read the archived version that was posted on www.mercurynews.com.
"I seem to remember reading about her first day of kindergarten, way back when, since our son is only two years ahead (of her)," Nina Wong-Dobkin, of Sunnyvale, wrote. Yes, those early elementary school days were nerve-wracking, she said. And so, too, were the days in early 2011 when her son started college in Los Angeles. But she had learned from experience, and she wanted to pass some of that knowledge along.
"I expect Bailey will not only call when 'she's in over her head,'" Wong-Dobkin wrote, citing the conclusion of my recent column, "but also when she's thrilled about a class or professor, when she's happy with the choice she made of attending DePaul University, and all the other high points of her college career."
And I'll be darned if just the other day Bailey didn't send an email that said she didn't have time to call but that she'd had a great day helping plant a community garden as part of a very cool class she is taking. And that she was headed to dinner with friends. And that afterward she was off to the lakefront to watch a fireworks display.
And while none of that made me miss her any less, all of it made me feel all whole lot better about where she is.