We sent our very independent and surly 18 year old off to college last August, and he returned this past May, thrilled to be home.
We were taken aback by this deep appreciation for our small world given his desperation to escape it a year earlier, and we mistook this as a leap in maturity rather than a deep disappointment in his experience at college and in himself there.
His new plan is to take a semester’s leave and to volunteer in his field (International and Community Development) to help bring the excrutiating static classroom experience to life; and to shed light on how to move through with passion and meaning and integrity.
With this aim, he has been working with a non-profit organization in Central America to find a good fit. They have decided on a women’s artisan cooperative in Costa Rica in the same town that he visited with his Junior High class in what seems like another lifetime ago.
He leaves in two weeks.
As parents, we’re not sure about our role; which has been increasingly true for a least a couple of years now.
I’m beginning to understanding that parenting, all of it, is not so much a nest as it is a reverse toll booth or a turnstile or one of those revolving doors through which others move from the outside to the inside to the outside again.
In this analogy, I find it important to distinguish the role from myself. This distinction seems to have growing relevance as our children become adults.
I want to communicate support and encouragement without robbing initiative and autonomy, and that is a tall order.
Breath has become one of my greatest tools. And silence. And listening.
(But just in case, click here for his upcoming trip. Pass it a long if you’re so inclined.
Just don’t tell him that I asked.)
2 thoughts on “Turnstile”
One thing you can do to help him along is plant the seed of having a return-to-college plan in place. What steps does he need to take with the university to re-enroll? Has he done all he needs to do to disenroll cleanly? I work at a university and the students that end up coming back are the ones with a plan in place, even if the timing is flexible. I hope he has a good learning experience in Costa Rica!