Saturday, August 13, 2011

It's The Way Things Ought to Be

Tomorrow, we leave to take Trey, our oldest child, to college.

I have not cried.

I suppose that there will be some weepy moments as we drive away, leaving him on the campus that I know so well. I suppose that, remembering how it feels suddenly to be "on your own" no matter how responsible you are, I will have a stirring in the pit of my stomach as I realize what he is feeling.

But I am not sad.

This is the way things ought to be. This is what we have been shooting for since his birth. Parenthood is the job you strive to work yourself out of.

I have friends whose children are leaving for school as well. One says she does not know what she will do without her only child, who will be several states away. Another says that if I say I haven't cried, I am lying.

Well, I'm not crying, and I'm not lying.

I remember a sermon that I heard Dan Francis preach years ago. The title - not original with him - was "Roots and Wings." It struck me then that a parent's job is to ground the child and then let the child go.

We have worked hard on the roots for almost 18 years. Now, we turn to the wings part.

I will write again when we get back. Perhaps I will have been stricken with loss, with the knowledge that never again will our family life be the same. Maybe the idea of not having Trey around all the time will have torn me up.

But I don't think so. The truth is that he is gone much of the time now, even when he is "at home." The fact is that he is very ready to be on his own.

Where he goes, I know the way. I know that he will encounter uncertainty, temptation, hard times, rejection, failures (both large and small), and days of utter loss. But there will also be discovery, challenge, fun, achievement, growth, and (undoubtedly) love. There will be friends, old and new. There will be new knowledge. His academic world - defined by the nature of high school as English taught by those to whom it has been assigned, math, history taught by coaches, foreign language, and basic science - is about to discover psychology, political science, literature taught by those who write it, history taught by real historians, music theory, philosophy, and scores of subjects he has not yet really imagined. Before him lie principles of deontology, third world literature, theoretical mathematics, rhetorical criticism, quantum physics, and great texts that will boggle his mind even as they fascinate and elate him. Names like Kierkegaard, Plato, Burns, King, Ellison, Hawking, Arendt, Teresa, Rawls, Einstein, Malthus, Russell, Jefferson, Aeschylus, Watson and Crick, Locke and others who may be no more than game show answers right now will become permanently etched on his emerging understanding of humanity and his role in it.

Yes, he is ready. Yes, we will miss him, but how exciting this is! How right it is that he step out.

Our little boy is long gone. Tomorrow, we take him to college.

It's the way things ought to be.


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