Later, ‘gator

“See you later, alligator!”

“After a while, crocodile!”

That’s the rhyme my son and I used when he was in preschool.  Every morning when I dropped him off, we’d say the little sing-songy good-bye, and that was how he knew I’d be back for him in just a little while (2 hours).

Fast-forward to high school, and his school mascot was the Gator.  We had a few laughs about that, usually on the occasion of me dropping him off at school for one thing or another.

“See ya later, Gator.”  “After a while crocodile.”

Fast forward again, to last week:  we all survived college orientation.

Barely.

There is SO much more information, and SO much more that schools are doing for their students (one session I attended was called “Everybody has Mental Health,” and was about the counseling center and how to support your student during especially rough times in the coming years).  And of course, it’s SO much more expensive (So much.  So, so, very much.  Ouch.), I think the universities are feeling they owe parents this much.  Two days packed full of information for both students and parents.

While Z was off registering for classes, T and I were soaking up all manner of things.  There was so much offered in the way of parent seminars, we decided to divide and conquer.  Between the two of us, we gathered information about Studying Abroad (self-explanatory), University Housing (also self-explanatory), Dollars and Sense (university billing, college Work Study, and financial aid info), Learning to Let Go (exactly what it sounds like — T went to that one), and the afore-mentioned Mental Health seminar.  By the time we met back up with Z at the end of Thursday, my brain was on overload and nothing else stuck after 4:50pm that day.

But all that time, in the midst of all that was happening and all Z was about to experience, in the back of my mind I just kept thinking “I hope he finds someone to sit with at lunch.”

Isn’t that the thing we worry most about from the first time they go off to school?  We hope they feel like they’re a part of something; that they don’t feel left out; that they’re not lonely.  And here I was, thinking exactly the same thing for my almost-18-year-old.

As we parted ways after the general “welcome” session, I had to fight the urge to say “See you later, alligator,” knowing full well that if I did, I’d face the wrath of an embarrassed Freshman.  The overwhelming need I felt to let him know I’d be here at the end was visceral.  But I fought it, and by the time my will-power was gone, so was he: out the door with a hundred other soon-to-be college kids on their way to learning about freshman seminars and prerequisites.

Life has a funny way of letting you know everything is going to be ok.  This time, I was on the receiving end of the assurance: I discovered that Happiness is your son greeting you the second morning of orientation by saying “Hi — I’m meeting friends for breakfast.  See you later!”

After a while, crocodile.

Until Friday, Friends.

 

 

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