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Perspective: Pushing the baby out of the nest -- and into college

Iona Cristiana

One minute, we’re bringing our first-born home from the hospital. Then, 10 minutes later it’s 2022 and he’s packing for college in the Southwest. Wait. What just happened?

I’m asking myself the usual questions–Is he ready? Did we teach him enough? How will he manage the trials and tribulations of college? Who invented liquid soap, and why?

I think about when he was eight and we dropped him at a park for soccer and drove away, not realizing the coach had already canceled practice. He waited 20 minutes before he borrowed a stranger’s cell phone, called us and said “I’m here but no one on the team is here.” While we were in a bit of a panic, he never wavered.

Or that time we handed him and his younger sister, both in their early teens, a free-range parenting challenge, dropping them off at the Blue Line station at Cumberland to see if they could meet us at our downtown Chicago hotel. How proud THEY were when we caught up to them in the lobby.

Parenting is maddening, rewarding, terrifying, gratifying, disappointing and invigorating and that’s on a good day. We try to balance teaching our children the skills to avoid mistakes while also instilling in them the ability to learn from the ones they will inevitably make.

As we’ve come closer to his departure, ready to push him out of the nest, I’m reminded of Jason Robards in the movie “Parenthood” who notes that parenting really IS a lifelong commitment. Heading to college is neither an end or a beginning for us and our son; it’s simply another step in a long journey.

“It never ends,” Robards says to his son, played by Steve Martin, “There is no end zone. You never cross the goal line, spike the ball and do your touchdown dance. Never.”

Indeed, you don’t. But, what a contest it is.

I’m Wester Wuori and that’s my parental Perspective.