"Dear Parents" was the traditional salutation. It was the letter informing us of the graduation activities and schedule. Even though it is almost a half year away, we know it will really be here tomorrow. I could have sworn it was just a couple of months ago that we loaded the SUV up to the gills and brought him to Freshman orientation. Since the letter was written by a classmate it referenced the highlights of their college years in a small liberal arts institution. He referenced the traditions that we heard about sports triumphs, rites of passage, famous lectures and other traditions. Yes, it brought a tear.
So where did it go? Yes we have asked ourselves that question at many other milestones. People warned us that the college years go by in a blink, it was true. These four years just seemed faster than others. Maybe it was because we weren't sharing the experiences directly but living them vicariously. Or perhaps because he was away we got used to it and became more focused on other parts of our lives. Possibly we just tracked life differently, 6 weeks until Fall break, 3 weeks until Thanksgiving, 5 weeks to enjoy Winter break. Life was broken down into chunks and before we knew it we got to another planned date. Well, it is just about over--the college years.
This milestone is truly different, he is an adult and about to enter the real world. Gosh, he's going to be working, 9-5, or more. He's never moving back (probably). Those chunks, they are something of the past. There won't be a long summer break at home. The hours of just hanging out be it watching TV, playing games or just chilling are over. When he comes to visit the hours will be special and we will try to pack it in with "quality time." Since he is starting his career and determined to make a good impression there probably won't be much free time left for the parents. After all, there is the job, the friends, social life, regular workouts, and more. Now he will get two weeks vacation just like the rest of us working stiffs. It is no longer student life with 15 weeks then a break. That is reality. What makes this even more of a transition is that it appears that the job will take him 1,000 miles away, a plane flight.
One way to look at it is that the college years were a weaning period for the next stage. Isn't that how life is? Parts of one period directly prepare you for the next one. So, the letter was our four month warning. Graduation will be the official demarcation between parenting our kid and sharing life with our adult child. The letter really didn't have to come this early, I didn't need or want the reminder.