Dropping Me Off at College 26 Years Ago

In life we all have moments that we’d like to take back and do over.

I’m not thinking about redoing a missed free throw at the end of a basketball game or retaking a test you should have aced.  I’m thinking about doing over a moment where you made a poor decision.  Maybe you yelled at someone when a softer approach would do.  Maybe you were late to an event where someone counted on you to attend.  Maybe you took things too fast or too slow on a date, ending a relationship that could have been something.

This week, as a few of my colleagues left to drive their children to college to begin their freshman year, I was reminded of a moment in my life I’d like to take back.  It occurred just about 26 years ago, give or take a few weeks.

Now that I have a 15-year-old, I can see this drop-off day coming for me.  Three years from now, God willing, Mrs. Spidey and I will be delivering our oldest to his first year of college.  I now know something I didn’t know back in 1984, when my parents took me to Williams College for my freshman year.

I now know that this delivery or visit or drop-off or whatever you call it is more significant for the parents, more emotional for the parents, more trying for the parents that it is for the child.

My Freshman Dorm at Williams. My room is first floor, 4th window from the far right.

Back in 1984, I didn’t realize that, and I’d like a do-over.  I’d like a do-over, because after my parents and I found my dorm room in the freshman quad, after we unloaded the car, after we picked up my linens (those were the days!), I basically pushed my parents back into the car to go home.  My mother wanted to help me set up my room.  She wanted to help me make my bed.  I assume, because I am her oldest and was the first going away to college, that she wanted to make sure that I was comfortable and had what I needed.  Unfortunately, I all but yelled at her to stop making the bed.  I wanted to do it myself and move on with my life.

I’m not going to claim I know exactly what happened after that, but I’m sure it involved my parents leaving and me moving on with my life.  I now know that it also involved my parents moving on with their life, but from a much different perspective.

There’s no preachy ending to this post, no admonishment to the incoming frosh and no words of preparation for their parents.  This is just a reflection on a moment 26 years ago for which I want a do-over and a note to myself on how to prepare for August 2013, when I’ll be the one my oldest dropping-off.

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