As our children will soon begin migrating back to school, some of us will be doing so with seniors living in our homes. No doubt thrilling, there is much to prepare for by seniors as they commence towards commencement and onto the rest of their lives. There is an equal amount for parents to do as well, including readying ourselves for a change in our children's demeanors that reminds one more of "crazy" than "senioritis." I kid you not. I have gone through it twice now and am currently walking with grave caution towards my third time.
For the rest of the year, I will keep three items in my purse marked for emergency usage -- earplugs, blinders, and duct tape (for my own mouth, mind you). I will also make sure that my car keys are within arms-length whenever my senior enters her room to complete yet another college essay or study for a different version of what seems to be the same college entrance exam taken for the twentieth time.
Truthfully, by the time senior year roles around -- for many kids -- the entire college process takes on an insurmountable appearance. Pressure-filled and laden with incomprehensible statistics that almost ensure that no college will accept them despite mom and dad's painstaking reassurance to the contrary, our already hormonally-charged seniors become hotbeds of anxiety and uncertainty from September through December -- until the moment arrives when they receive an envelope encapsulating an acceptable amount of validation that their 12-plus years of hard work have finally paid off along with the name of the place they will be spending their next four years (the same place we will be sending their mail and our cash, mind you).
It is at that time that a bit of the crazy lets up and makes room for the beginning signs of senioritis. As word gets around regarding school acceptances, stress and worry give way to ego and anticipation. By the time graduation nears, pranks, senior portraits, and proms encompass most senior thoughts, unless you have earned the title of "Valedictorian" whereby you must begin crafting the speech of the century -- balancing profound meaning with a cleverness that ensures a few guffaws from the crowd.
Once the caps and gowns go flying, the craziness re-surges to an all-time high, but it arrives through the door with a new face and even more worries -- in the form of mini-fridges, roommate selection, and a catalogue full of sheets designed specifically for college beds ONLY. Given everyone in the family realizes that their graduated senior can suffer little more conversation than that of college and their "enthusiasm" for leaving the nest, the day will eventually come when the crazy finally subsides -- making way for many tears, childhoods' left behind, and sighs reflecting the realization that the fire that be senior year has finally burned out, everyone survived, and today marks the beginning of an empty pocket, a heart full of pride, and the relief of knowing that you didn't do such a bad job being a parent after all.
Amidst all of the mistakes and your own crazy, you somehow managed to guide your kid to the place he wanted to go, and in doing so, you grew a whole lot wiser in your own right. You also have the satisfaction of knowing that -- someday -- your (now) college freshman will realize the kinda crazy they put you through "first-hand." And as you gift them a bag enclosing a pair of earplugs, blinders, and a role of duct tape, that brief flicker of revenge natural to all humans will quickly give way to a commiserative smile and fond memories of days gone by of which you wish you could recapture once again.
And then you will go home... or take the poor bastards out for a beer... and then go home!