First-Semester Separation Tips for the Parents of College FreshmenAlyssa Abel
Ever since my older sons moved out of the house I have become the town crier.
Whenever there is news to share, I hop on my computer or smart phone and text or email them the latest. I let them know who is getting married, who is going to grad school, who invented a new app and is funding it through Kickstarter. Sometimes (and I hate this part) I inform them of bad things such as an illness, divorce or death.
Occasionally, the news is a front-page type of bulletin — a friend’s son got signed by the Boston Red Sox! — but more frequently, my reports are pretty trivial, such as the closing of the frozen yogurt shop or grilled cheese place in town. More often than not, especially when it comes to their peers, my sons (being light years ahead of me on social media) already know what’s up. (I’m still working with a string and tin cans while they use technology I’ve barely heard of.)
I am often a day late and a dollar short on the scoop but that doesn’t stop me from trying again and again. I can immediately tell if I’ve hit pay dirt and managed to impart fresh info by the alacrity with which they respond and their follow-up questions. And here’s the part they may not know; I am not sharing news because I am a busybody or gossip monger. My intention is to simply keep them connected to me and the life they have started moving beyond.
I am often a day late and a dollar short on the scoop but that doesn’t stop me from trying again and again.
I'm glad that my sons are still mildly interested in the happenings in our town and within our immediate and extended family. I must confess to a degree of selfishness in my motives — I want them to know what’s going on in my world and to remain part of the community in which they grew up. I also admit that, with sons, it’s good to have a conversation starter since I’m unlikely (“highly unlikely” according to my husband) to talk about their teams’ injured pitchers or their fantasy leagues and I can only ask how work/school is and inquire about their health so many times in a week. Local and family tidings seem to be a good way to initiate a conversation.
I will even let you in on a secret — if I have more than one thing to convey I sometimes hold back to have a reason to text them another time. Why report a cousin’s pregnancy and a town scandal when I can parse out the info? Hey, a mom’s got to do what a mom’s got to do.
I thought my oldest son might be humoring me by pretending to act interested in my bulletins but when asked, he said he found some of my communiqués “helpful” and liked staying current so he knew what was going on when he came home. However, lest I get overly excited and think I was doing something too positive or constructive, he added that at times my updates were “inane” and compared them to “talking about the weather.” Recently, after I shared a few sad stories in a row, including the death of a beloved neighbor and a classmate’s illness, he temporarily suspended my right to deliver news briefings. I was reduced to texting jokes I got from Alexa, our Echo Dot. (Why did the banker quit his job? He lost interest.)
My middle son, who tends to cut me a little more slack, was more effusive and said he “loved being kept in the loop and staying connected.” He also pointed out that my husband’s mother still calls to keep her 56-year-old son apprised of gossip she hears regarding family, old friends and his hometown, even though he hasn’t lived there in 35 years and she doesn’t even live there anymore. I’m still considering how I feel about being told I’ve turned into the prior generation.
Although the bond I share with my children transcends bulletins and updates, it’s likely I will continue to call and text tidbits I deem newsworthy (or at least slightly interesting). In fact, I think I will text them a photo of the adorable new puppy our next-door neighbor just brought home.