We phoned him the first night with endless queries. How was your first day of orientation? How did the orchestra audition go? Who did you see at the ice cream social? Were you able to get all your things in your room?
“Done with classes. I had programming, g chem, and english”; his text flashed across my phone. It was 10:53 on Friday morning. My first instinct was to text back and say, “Want to come home?” It was his first weekend at Southern. While I would have loved for him to come home, I felt that it was more important for him to integrate fully into college life. So I texted lamely back, “Good deal”.
He called home. Yes, he did call home to say that he had been cliff jumping at the Tennessee River. Of course, he called after he was safely ensconced back in the dormitory. Indeed we were delighted to hear from him, to sense that he was doing well and enjoying college life, and, last but not least, we were delighted to know that he was alive.
For the Labor Day weekend, our home occupancy went from two to nine persons (more about our empty nest next time). It was a magical weekend filled with family, friends, glorious sunshine, lots of water, and big-time fireworks. I was able to snatch a few minutes to hear from him in person about college life. I wanted that look-into-his-eyes kind of knowing that he was actually doing well.
Two and a half weeks into our son’s college experience, I feel the need to reflect on our communication – the calling, texting, and visiting in person. A quick Google search of “communication with your college freshman” yields ample ‘sage’ advice. “Don’t wait for her to be the first to initiate contact” is deemed the one concrete communication rule*. “Keep open the lines of communication, don’t overwhelm your adult child with phone calls and check-ins, and above all else, be your freshman’s biggest cheerleader“ was heralded in bold letters on another website**. At this moment of transition in his life, negotiating the interplay of communications is not always easy. The Internet had one thing right; there are no immutable rules. It is all about finding the balance that is right for you and your freshman.