There's anticipation and anxiety in the air as we're plunging into another academic semester tomorrow. My best friend's son is starting Kindergarten, my ex's daughter will be a first year student in college, and my toddling Lilly will be introduced to "separation time" in the ECFE class (Early Childhood Family Education offered by the public schools in town) that she'll be in this fall.
To be honest, I'm dreading it all. But I think it'll be good for us all. Perhaps primarily for me.
"Nationwide, campuses are helping this generation of highly connected families manage the transition by teaching the adults how to let their children go," reported the Start Tribune yesterday on its front page.
Frankly, I'm a little surprised to find myself this attached. I grew up in a country that values independence, in children as well as adults. At eighteen years old, I finished high school, and, as most of my friends, enrolled in university (in Oslo, Norway), left my parents' home (which was in a small city outside of Oslo), and got an apartment of my own. We were legal, could vote, get a driver's license, and buy alcohol in the liquor store. Most of us were done with binge drinking by the end of middle school and considered ourselves quite adult and sophisticated.
When I taught as a college professor here in the US, I was taken aback by how connected students were to their parents. The frequent phone calls I'd overhear between students and their parents while walking across campus from class to class. How much (and how fondly) they'd refer to their parents and conversations with them.
I maintained my high expectations from my American students while I met them halfway, providing more guidance and hand-holding than I really thought necessary. But I did it, and I grew quite close to many of my students. I did not, however, ever get over my exasperation with American students' seemingly uncut umbilical cords.
So why am I so anxious now, what with my Lilly growing up and taking off? I think a lot of it is personal. I grew up in a home that did not feel so safe, and I dreaded first day of school. Alas, it turned out that learning became my sanctuary (though not necessarily school per se: a tiny little girl with glasses, who soon became the class nerd, well, you can see how I became an easy object of teasing and harassment). Yet I liked school. And so when my husband at one point suggested home schooling, even before Lilly was born, I balked. But then the other day, I was the one who threw it out there.
But, ok, so if I take a pause and reflect here now: our Lilly has a completely different foundation from me. We're providing her with a much more nurturing, safe home basis from which she's gleefully adventuring off. She's very confident in herself around others. She loves to learn and she loves people. I think she will love school, and for healthier reasons than mine. She'll be fine. Right???