Friday, August 15, 2008

Lost At Orientation

I've been told that this is the toughest thing I'll ever do....that it's like mourning a death. But actually I was unconcerned, feeling fine until about a month ago when my youngest woke up crying .

"What's the matter?" I asked her.

"I don't want jiejie to go away," she said.

"Go away?" It was a Sunday. My eldest daughter hadn't mentioned she was going anywhere that day. "Where's she going?"

"To college," she said.

Oh. Yeah. That thing.

Recently, I took my daughter to That Thing. It wasn't the pull-up-to-the-curb-and-drop-off- type of trip I remember from "my day." I--along with a multitude of other parents--was asked to stay at the college for two days and undergo orientation along with our children. I stayed in the dorm and ate at the commons and got lost looking for the right buildings. Just like in the old days.

The first day the Administration told us how wonderful our students were, what a fine school it was, how grand the experience would be. I was feeling great, patting myself on the back at our good fortune.

The next day, however, the Administration took us down reality lane--about DRINKING (49% of students binge drink, but that's not too bad compared with Harvard which has 44%) , DRUGS (a "small percentage" of students do hard drugs: 10%), RAPE (1 in 4 women in universities should expect to be assaulted in some fashion). And by the way, if you're feeling sad, apprehensive, having trouble letting go, that's normal.

I felt miserable. What was I doing thrusting my dear little one out into this crazy world?

Fortunately, my husband showed up. The voice of reason. He said not to worry. Everything would be alright. He had brought our daughter's belongings--two suitcases full of clothes, bedding, hangers, etc.

We thought we'd perform a last parenting-type duty and set up her room while she went off to register for classes. He made the bed. I unpacked her suitcases --the whole time thinking why does she need two full suitcases worth of clothes for six weeks of summer school? I ended up only unpacking one suitcase and just sliding the other under the case. I noticed she'd left her cell phone on her desk where I put photos of her friends and family. The room looked cozy and fun. She'd be thrilled....

If we could find her.

She wasn't at the class registration area. She wasn't at the dining hall. She wasn't soaking up sunshine on the grass. Where was she? The statistics regarding assualt ran through my head.

"Well, she's got to have gone back to her room," my husband reasoned.

"No, if she were there, she would have called us," I pointed out.

We wandered around and around til my feet felt disembodied from my legs and the Administration was ready for us to leave. This was horrible. Where could she be?

"Surely, she's fine," my husband said.

We slogged our way back to her room, ready to give her room key to her roommate. My eyes stung. Would I not even get to say, "Goodbye?" I knocked on her door. The roommate answered. But, lo and behold, surrounded by a mountain of clothes on her bed was our daughter.

Why hadn't she called? She was busy.

Busy remaking the bed (My husband had used the boring sheets.)

Busy unpacking the suitcases (of course she needed all those clothes).

Busy reorganizing the stuff I'd unpacked (I had done it wrong.)

I had to laugh. With that kind of focus and determination, she'd be just fine. And if she was fine, I would be too. (sniff...sniff.)


Anonymous said...

Oh, geez. See I can remember being the DROPEE so well, that I can't believe I have friends already being DROPPERS. Of course, your daughter's confidence level is so much higher than mine was. Maybe 'cause she's the daughter of a woman who lived abroad for many years and confidently took many risks that leave me in awe? :)

Jana said...

Thanks, Becky. The DROPPERS. I love it. Hadn't thought of myself that way. But just you wait, Dearee. You've been lulled by elementary school into thinking these bird projects and California reports will just go on forever...DROPPER days are just around the corner.:)

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