Thursday, August 19, 2021

The first time you leave a child really far from home for what seems like a really long time

Jack, Melanie, and I recently enjoyed some Jeremiah's Italian Ice, an Orlando-area delicacy that all of us immediately loved.

This may be surprising, coming as it does from a guy who has five kids, four of whom have either graduated college or are within a couple of years of doing so.

But today (Aug. 4th as I type this) will be the first time I leave behind one of my children for an extended stay far from home.

Now, I should clarify a few things:

  • By "extended stay," I mean one of more than a few weeks.
  • "Far from home" means anything more than, say, an hour away.
  • Understand that my first, third and fourth kids all attended  or currently are attending – Cleveland State University. They have all spent time living on campus there, know, it's maybe 20 minutes from our house, so it's only so bad. Meanwhile, child #2 (Chloe), did her undergraduate work at the University of Akron, which is maybe 45 minutes from home.
I'm in Orlando, Florida, at the moment. I'm scheduled to jump on a plane in a few hours to fly home and get back to work. I don't know the next time I'll see Melanie, our almost-21-year-old who is just starting a 5 1/2-month stint here as a participant in the Disney College Program.

Most parents who go through this for the first time do so with their 18-year-old college freshman who is going off to college, say, two states away. These partings usually involve a few tears and maybe some initial homesickness on the part of the kid, but in the vast majority of cases, they work out just fine.

And this will work out just fine, too, Melanie being Melanie and all.

But, you know, I've never done this before. Not having Melanie around the house is going to be strange...even though, with her work and social schedule, there have been long periods recently when she may as well have been 1,000 miles away.

That's how far she is from Wickliffe, by the way, just about an even 1,000 miles. The thing is, Terry has a lot of family in the Orlando area, all of whom are willing to drop what they're doing at any moment and help Mel if she needs it. That's a comfort. As is the fact that Terry and/or I will be down to visit her multiple times.

Still, her room is empty.

That room hasn't been that empty in a long time. In fact, given Mel's penchant for keeping a less-than-tidy-but-still-manageable bedroom, it has for years felt really, really full.

Full of stuff, full of life.

And now it sits empty.

This is all really melodramatic, given that she'll have a great experience, and I can't help but think she'll really excel at this and get a lot out of it.

But even if you're supposedly a "veteran" parent, your first time is still your first time.

And that, I have to say, is kind of tough.

No comments:

Post a Comment