Last night, I watched the two-hour special edition of Glee. Seeing the students of McKinley High getting ready to graduate, about to head off to follow their education and their dreams made me tear up. I know my time is coming soon to send my oldest off to college and as a parent, I’m not ready.
This year, I began changing as a parent. I have a high school freshman and sophomore and when I saw my teens becoming more independent, I began to give them some room to mature. I watch my friends’ children and my nephew making college plans and securing their dorm assignments and I’m realizing that my time to influence my teens on a daily basis will be short-lived.
I’ve been asking my peers with kids off at college what they would have done differently as parents, what lessons they feel they may have neglected to teach their kids. Do their kids know how to do laundry, address an envelope, make a homemade meal? Do they know how to change a flat tire, french braid hair, write a check or keep tabs on the balance of a checking account?
Suddenly, I feel pressure. I know it’s the big lessons that count the most — how to be a good friend, how to be an ethical student or employee, how to communicate with someone rather than shut them out. But the small things count too.
So for those of you who have sent a high school graduate off to college or into the real world, what would you have done differently before they left? What lessons about work and life should I cram into the next two years before my oldest child graduates?