Thursday, April 9, 2015


When my son was selecting his college, he was very young.  A precocious child, he was skipped a grade in elementary school, making him younger than his classmates and, at the end of high school, perhaps a bit too young to start the rest of his life.  It was a situation with which I was familiar, having a January birth day that allowed me to enter school early after not even having attended Kindergarten.  It wasn't mandatory in those days and I was a fiver year old first grader, something that I know impacted on the rest of my school days if not the rest of my life.  In both cases, parental poor decisions might have been made.  Guilty as charged.
So, the selection of college came, scholarship was offered, and our young man went off to a school that was highly regarded by the Christian Brothers who drummed such choices into their flocks of students, and the result was a totally unproductive and unhappy first year of college followed by some very uncertain times in our house as we had to patiently sit back and wait.  We weren't quite sure what we were awaiting and as the weeks went by, I found solace in my old belief that there are some chicks that simply need more time in the warmer, that incubators in hospital nurseries were proof that living-breathing humans aren't always fully equipped for their solo flights using their tiny lungs without support, that their lack of fat would stop their lives should they come in constant contact with variations in temperatures too soon. I used these thoughts as a mantra, pulling strength from them as each day passed into the next, a summer that brought long and troubled days in place of the carefree ones usually associated with time between school years.  Instead of moving ahead toward fully responsible adulthood, we had to accept the fact that our first-born was slipping backwards, or so it seemed to us and all who knew us.  This surely was not the plan but what was the plan? Was there even a plan? I needed a new mantra.  I was the one who needed to formulate a plan, to find the ring to catch and ride the carousel to its end so I thought and I thought and I came up with this, which made all the difference.  Our son can't pack his bags for the rest of the journey because he does not yet know the destination.  When he does, he will collect all that he needs and be on his way again. I made this announcement to my husband and everyone else who was willing to listen.

Eventually, the bags got packed,the Internet discovered (no, not by Al Gore), and we, the anguished parents got to see the fruits of our labor of patience and understanding.  From the incubator emerged a young man who was almost ready for the real world. One who just needed that extra time to find that which would supply the passion to keep on going, a way to communicate that was new and almost unfathomable just a few years before.  Yes, he returned to school.  One of his choice, not the Christian Brothers in New Rochelle.  One that was exactly right for his needs.  And he did graduate and he made decisions outside the warm nest and today, he has a wonderful job as a software engineer for a large company.

I've used the same lines, the one about the kids who need more time, the one about not being able to pack if you don't know where you're going, many times over the years.  I hope that it helped quiet the anxious souls of other parents who came to me in the workplace seeking guidance or maybe I've had the privilege of using my wisdom to help more than one little chickie get through a scary day at a job that asked for grown up behavior from one who was still a child. And now, I find myself faced with a situation not that unlike the one my son was in twenty six years ago. We need to pack. We don't know where we are headed. The time is coming to make decisions and it's all so hard because we don't have anyone older than us who can push us back into the warming oven, give us the chance to breathe with assistance, to let our bodies adjust to a new age, a new way to live, a new place if that is the choice we make.

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