One thing I may have failed to mention as we waited for Mr. Tufts (or Misters Brown, Amherst or Barnard) is the unique and perhaps misguided way in which we, the collective parents of Child One, felt that WE were waiting to hear from colleges. So much so, in fact, that we had to discuss the rules as they pertained to incoming mail. And even though we discussed said rules, I felt quite sure that I would find myself home early from work on one of critical days, and if I should find myself wandering toward the mailbox I care little about and pay almost no heed most of the year, and IF I should happen upon an envelope from one of the many fancy, high-end universities Child One applied to, I MIGHT, just might, be inclined to open said envelope despite rules of normal acceptable social engagement that suggest I respect Child One’s right to open her own mail – the mail addressed to HER that holds information about HER future – not mine, not Sig Other’s, and certainly not Child Two’s.
But that was just silly. There was no scenario in which said mail was to sit, unopened on a countertop for an hour or perhaps more while Child One meandered around from school to friend to whatever activity struck her at the moment. There was no scenario in which I would have been able to tolerate our collective future hanging in the balance whilst a simple piece of flimsy paper floated between us and our future fantasy. And I certainly could not, and would not, accept that it would be somehow inappropriate for me to open an envelope which holds the future of Child One. And so very strict rules were laid out to which Sig Other and I were sworn to adhere.
But of course, the rules were made only AFTER a specific breach – a breach that occurred innocently enough, but which revealed all there is to understand about applying to college in the modern age of parenting. A few weeks ago, Sig Other made an urgent call to me in the office. He asked me if I was sitting down and I, anticipating news of death or disease, was quite pleased to hear the drama was simply that Child One had been accepted to one of the schools of her choice. This acceptance came much earlier than we were meant to officially hear from any college and quite out of the blue. Sig Other told me that he was looking through the mail and noticed a rather thin envelope addressed to Child One from one of the colleges in question. “And you opened it?” I asked rather harshly. “Of course,” he replied, “it was a thin envelope so I assumed it was a note saying we’d made an error on our application.”
And there it was. A statement so innocent and yet so loaded. “Our application.” Not the application of Child One. Not an application made by a young woman trying to determine her future on her own. Rather, an application made by Child One, by Sig Other, and I suppose by Ex-Wife and me too. WE all applied to college – several really. And WE all were waiting to hear from seven universities until just recently.
Now we’ve heard. WE got in some places and got rejected (yes, I said REJECTED) from others. And now we wait whilst Child One ponders and weighs her decisions. Now we wait and try hard not to influence too much in one direction or other – recognizing that this is HER decision, after all. Not ours. Our future hangs in the balance with her but she alone will decide where she’ll go to school. I can only cross my fingers and hope its one simple plane ride away…