08/23/2014 08:00 am ET

Learning To Be A College Mom

Terry Vine via Getty Images

It was the last week in August and just a few days before my oldest daughter headed off to college. I had spent the summer wondering if we had taught her everything she needed to know before leaving the nest. I insisted on having five conversations with her before the end of the summer. Drugs, sex, and rock ’n’ roll kind of conversations. She wanted the topics to be combined into a single talk. No, I insisted, each one deserved its own focus.

As I drove to work, I thought about kissing her goodbye just moments before. She had been in the kitchen packing up food for her day at the beach with friends. Oh, no, I thought, as I drove along the Mass. Pike. Did I ever teach her not to use mayonnaise on sandwiches for the beach? I couldn’t remember any conversations about mayonnaise, and as images of food poisoning swirled in my head, I called her cellphone.

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