It’s nearing the end of August and, all over the United States, kids are going off to college. Some of them, like my friend PJ’s daughter, as well as my heroine Cara, are entering college for the first time. Someday, sooner than I’d like to acknowledge, I may be sending my own chickadees off to a palace of higher education.
How do we advise them? What did our parent teach us about surviving and thriving at college?
PJ told me that she spent last week, before the big drop-off, pouring out wisdom. I am eager to know what she shared.
As for me, I was the beneficiary of all kinds of accumulated learning well before my move-in date. My mom gave me a set of four beautiful patchwork placemats and a small set of Revere cookware copper-bottomed pots and pans for the dinner parties I surely would host. I would know no hunger – they gave me dishes, utensils, a two-plate electric burner, and a toaster oven. I actually did have a few dinner parties in my college years – two of them involved placemats. One night as a freshman, a friend of mine, a guy from my high school, and I tried to make a cream sauce for chicken, which we were cooking in my other saucepot. We knew nothing about cream sauces. Finally, my friend went down the hall to call my mom for guidance. (Yes, it was before cell phones.) He came back to me triumphant, crowing, “Keep the heat on, Hailey! We are reducing our sauce!”
My dad advised me not to set up housekeeping with anybody so that I could achieve academic greatness.
My mom told me to decide how far I wanted to go before I embarked on a date so that I would not have any later regrets of being swept away in a moment of passion. She shared with me the wisdom her father gave her when she entered college: You marry a different guy at 15 (her age when she began her freshman year), than you do at 20, than you do at 23 (the age when she married my dad).
There’s a crazy yearning that happens when August means the beginning of a new school. We yearn for the security of the known – the past, and we dream of adventures to come. And we think we can go back, if we need to.
In the first of my soon-to-be-released four-part novel series, Love U: At First, Cara has received plenty of parental advice that she weighs as events unfold. I hope you’ll come on the journey with Cara and me.