September 8th, 2010

Gil Marsh cover

Things you can't control

My oldest daughter starts college this fall. For the last few weeks, everyone has asked, "So, how do you feel about it?"

I suppose this is a well-meaning conversation starter. After all, college is a major life change---for her, for me, for our family. And a lot of people have their own experiences to share either as the child going off, as the parent saying goodbye, or as a curious bystander. It's a common experience.

But why must I tell people how I am feeling?

I give banalities. "She's ready to go." "I'm very proud of her." "It'll be hard, but it's time."

"Do you think you'll fall apart on your way home?"

What is this? Schadenfreude?

I grin and say, "I'd rather not talk about it."

The response is always a knowing smile. Because after all, parents fall apart when their kids leave---folks are in on my secret, and we should smile about it.


I really meant it. I'd rather not talk about it.

It's not that I might not fall apart. But making me talk about it ensures that I will fall apart, again and again. And I'd rather not do it in front of other people.

So I dropped her off yesterday, and folks ask, "How did it go?"

I cheerfully share a funny anecdote. I talk about the school and the orientation. We chat about each others' experiences.

"And how do you feel?"

I spout a banality or two.

"Did you fall apart?"

I grin. "I'd rather not talk about it."