2018-08-23 / Commentary

And then there was one

40–Something

My son is now the lone remaining kid in our household, and I’m not sure he’s real happy about it.

My wife and I put our 20-year-old daughter on a plane last week for a study abroad program across the pond. Then this week we dropped our 18- year-old daughter off for her first year of college. So my 15-year-old son has suddenly gone from being the baby of the family to an only child of sorts.

He will miss his two older sisters a lot, but that’s not his chief concern. His biggest problem right now is he is the sole focus of our attention. This might be good news for a kindergartener, but for a teenager, extra parental attention is about as welcome as a raging case of acne.

The wife and I might feel sorry for our son if we had any siblings, but we spent our entire lives as only children. So he could play the “you-don’t-understand what-it’s-like-to-have-siblings” card as much as he wanted, but he’s got no card to play when it comes to being the only child in the house.

Luckily for him, his parents could be distracted for a while.

Dropping the second child at college proved to be no less heartbreaking than the first. In a way, it was even worse but for different reasons.

The first time my wife and I dropped a kid off at college, we had to drive 13-and-a-half hours to a foreign land known as Northern Indiana. The locals call it Michiana. They have snow till May, and no one says “y’all.”

My oldest was happy to be in college, but she knew once she was moved in, there weren’t going to be any “quick” runs home for a taste of sweet tea, humidity, and the family to get her through the semester. She was on her own, so the separation was felt equally. Tears were shed by parents and kid alike making for a very long goodbye.

That was not the case with our second born.

She didn’t exactly say, “Don’t let the door hit you in the rear on your way out,” but it was close.

I’m not sure what hurt more....the fact we were leaving her or the fact she didn’t seem to mind leaving us.

In her defense, her college is in Upstate South Carolina, and she’s already met a significant number of her classmates through orientation and other summer programs. As a result, she was definitely not getting dropped off in some “foreign land” like her big sister.

As comforting as that is, she still moved out, and I expected some tears. Her mother and I certainly shared a few.

My brand new coed is happy, and that’s all that matters...but was it too much to ask for watery eyes? Couldn’t she throw the old man a little something to make me feel like I was going to be missed?

Anyway, while my wife and I adjust to that and the fact my oldest daughter is now in an actual foreign land, my son can relax a bit and enjoy this grace period of parental distraction.

It won’t last. He’ll be the center of our focus soon enough. Who knows, when we drop him at college after all that attention, he may actually scream, “Don’t let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!”

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