OK, so my son has been home from college now for six weeks and so far, it seems like the college party is still in session. Yes, he has an internship (one or two days a week), but is he out pounding the pavements looking for a "real" job? Not at all. He seems perfectly fine with not working at the moment. In fact, he suggested the other day, "Mom, stop worrying about me worrying because I'm not worrying at all."
I've read a lot about these twenty-something kids and how adolescence seems to be lasting longer and longer. This may seem like a newsy trend, but when I look back at my own history, I have to admit I spent my first summer after college doing a lot of nothing. I visited a friend in Boston, where I thought I might like to move (but didn't). I visited friends in Clinton, NY, a teensy town from whence I had graduated (Kirkland College, then coordinate with Hamilton). I hung out in bars in Schenectady, NY with high school friends. Finally, I got so sick of being home (where my loving but rather conservative father kept tabs on my comings and goings) that I packed my bags and went to New Paltz to live with my sister for a while; toward the end of summer I landed a waitressing job, but I didn't get my first newspaper reporting gig until, well, much later.
In other words, I pretty much took the summer -- and a bit beyond -- off.
So, why do so many adults (parents as well as non-parents) seem panicked when I tell them my son is still sleeping until noon and hasn't so much as sent out a resume? Everyone, it seems, has an opinion about what college grads should be doing right away if not yesteryear. "Well, he has to pay you rent!" one mom admonished. Another scolded, "He's interested in music? Fine. Let him play his guitar. But he has to get a real job, too."
I agree that it will be beneficial for my son to begin his job search in the near future. But a large part of me also asks, what's the rush? Chances are he'll be working for the rest of his adult life. What is the harm in taking a few weeks to unwind after college? What is the harm in taking a month -- or two -- just to breathe, sleep, and chill?
I suppose some (perhaps many) might say that I'm spoiling him, enabling him, or actually thwarting his progress. But I don't really think so. I believe that doors open when they should, and I'm also of the opinion that sometimes doors are closed for a reason. I don't see anything wrong with taking some time to be bored, or to feel comforted, or just to be (if you are offered that possibility).
To tell you the truth, I was the same way when my kids were growing up. I'm not one for pushing. Childhood ends soon enough, as does adolescence, and as will these "boomerang" years. Sometimes it's good to let our dreams simmer before we set out to reach for them.
I asked a sixty-something friend today what her path was like after college. Turned out she married and moved to a Middle Eastern country. Then got divorced and moved back (or maybe moved back and then got divorced). Got a job washing dishes in a restaurant. Got a job at a bank. Got a job in an accounting office. Then went to nursing school and didn't find her "dharma" until she'd graduated and found a healthcare position. All this took at least a good five years.
Sometimes I wonder why we're in such a hurry for our kids to get to where they're going. It seems that on the first day of preschool many parents are planning what junior will write on his Harvard application.
Of course, we don't want to mollycoddle our kids and young adults, helicopter parent, or make things too "easy" for them. But whether it's learning to read, mastering riding a bike or snagging that first job after college, as parents, we must be patient. Yes, it's annoying! But it's also part of the beauty of growing up. Things don't always happen according to our timetable.
Part of it is trust, and I'm confident that when the time is right, my son will set out on his path. Life itself will no doubt kick him in the butt, as it does to everyone. For now, he's safe on home base, and that's the way it is.