For me, it was the fourth time I dropped a boy off at a faraway campus with vague promises of care packages and a reminder to buy a bus ticket for fall break.
For my three older boys, who had spent weeks away at Boy Scout camps year after year, this exercise was not especially daunting.
For son #4, though, this marked the first time he would be left entirely on his own for weeks at a time.
His immediate future, vague promises of care packages notwithstanding, would be void of family and friends, familiar teachers, landscapes and routines.
I had every reason to expect the days between move-in and mid-October would be filled with anxiety and loneliness.
Two weeks in, I am happy to report I was wrong…for the most part.
As part of his college’s outstanding support program, my son and his seven similarly diagnosed peers, were invited to spend a week on campus in July just to get the lay of the land and, more importantly, bond.
At first, my son balked. When pressed, he explained that the highly structured agenda the program coordinator had sent showed only small windows of “alone time” during the five days he’d be away. Pointing specifically to the after dinner activities, he fretted, “I don’t know about these. You know how I like to get to bed early.”
At his request, I asked the program coordinator if the evening events were mandatory. Her response? “All of the evening activities are optional. We hope he participates in as many as he feels comfortable doing so.”
My son’s mood brightened. He knew she understood. “This might work,” he ventured.
After weeks of gushing about how much fun he would have, my husband and I helped him pack and even let him drive most of the way to campus.
Once settled in his room, we joined the rest of the parents and students in the residence hall’s common area. The program coordinator introduced the two residence assistants (RAs) who would be staying there with her and the kids, let us know what time to return that Friday and told us to say our good-byes.
Slapping on the happiest face I could muster, I gave him a quick kiss and said, “Be good. See you in a couple of days.”
I walked out the door and couldn’t bear to turn around. The entire way home, I expected my cell phone to ring with a tearful voice on the other end, begging us to come back.
But it didn’t. Not until we got home. I answered and held my breath.
Son: Hey, so I just wanted to see if you guys were doing OK.
Me: (sounding perkier than a cheerleader on steroids) Heck yeah. We’re fine! What are you up to?
Son: Oh. OK, good. Well, uh, we just had dinner and now we’re heading out to see a concert in a park near here, so I’m sorry, but I kind of have to go.
Relieved, I hung up the phone, trying to ignore just how empty the house felt without him in it.
Similar upbeat calls followed each night for the remainder of the week, during which time I sent the program coordinator a message expressing my intent to submit her name to the Vatican as a candidate for canonization.
So, getting back to my story. My “Aspie” is just about two weeks into his college adventure. To date, he likes all of his classes, has re-connected with all of his cohort pals and has even made some new ones. Every day starts with a wake up call from yours truly (his request) and a pre-bedtime call from him, telling us about his day (my request).
While these calls may taper off over time, for now, I find they go along way towards easing the anxiety and loneliness. Not his. Mine.
Flight Risk, book #4 in my Assignment: Romance series releases on August 23rd! I hope you can join me and several of my outrageously talented author pals to help celebrate!
4:30 – 5:00 p.m. – Tracy Kimmer
5:00 – 5:30 p.m. – Geralyn Coricillo
5:30 – 6:00 p.m. – Stacey Weidower
6:00 – 6:30 p.m. – CJ Warrant
6:30 – 7:00 p.m. – Ellyn Oak(smith)
7:00 – 7:30 p.m. – Glynnis Astie
7:30 – 8:00 p.m. – Nicole Leiren
8:00 – 8:30 p.m. – T. Sue VerSteeg
(*note: all times are in Central Time)
We’ll be chatting about overcoming fears, taking risks and other fun topics, and giving away lots of great prizes. For a chance to win, all you have to do is jump right in!
Never been to a Facebook party before? Not to worry. Here’s how they work.
First and foremost, they’re online only. At 4pm CST on Tuesday 8/23, I’ll kick off the event right here with a few posts, welcoming attendees and kicking off the conversation (about my new book, about the thrill of letting go of fear, which Chicago Cub keeps me glued to the TV for each and every game, etc.).
I’ll also share a picture of the dazzling prize I’ll be giving away to a lucky (U.S. based) participant. Then, in 30 minutes slots, the other writers I’ve invited to co-host will do the same. It’s a great way for you to “meet” new authors.
Here’s the best part – if you comment on any of the posts, you’re automatically entered for the giveaways (mostly books by said authors). It’s a lot of fun and pretty-fast paced. Can’t wait to “see” you all there!
You’re right. This summer has flown by. Why it seems like just yesterday I was pulling my white capris and sandals from the nether regions of my closet.
So much has happened in the last two months. Too much to write about really. Some of it good. Some bad.
I’ll start with the good.
- My eldest landed his dream job just weeks before he graduated with his Master’s degree (ever the overachiever).
- My second eldest brought an adorable feline home with him from college (me being a dog person, this speaks volumes).
- My third eldest went to Morocco for a study abroad stint and arrived back safely six weeks later (cried when I finally got him back in my arms, I did).
- My fourth eldest committed to his college of choice (I had every confidence…really).
- My youngest mastered making his favorite breakfast – eggs, sunny side up.
- My sister moved back home after spending a year plus on the East coast (worst Thanksgiving ever last year when she couldn’t join us).
- As for me, I finished my fourth book (hint, hint…you can find the pre-order links on My Books page).
- My eldest landed his first job…on the East coast (enough said).
- My second eldest brought a cat home (along with a truckload of cats toys and accessories).
- My third eldest is already talking about his next study abroad adventure…in India (this from the young man who ate nothing but bread while in Morocco).
- My fourth eldest is going away to college (I get verklempt just thinking about it).
- My youngest is starting 8th grade in the fall (8th grade!!!).
- My sister is still looking for work (anybody looking for a brilliant corporate L&D executive?).
- The deadline for my next book is October 1st (insert hearty laughter here).
Throw in the loss of two old friends, the rise of global terrorism, our choices for our next Commander-in-Chief, and worst of all – the rising cost of all things chocolate, and I’ll be the first to admit…I’m finding it harder and harder to focus on the good stuff.
In an attempt to claw my way out of the all-powerful, ever-present vortex of negativity, I’m going to follow my mother’s age-old advice and count my blessings.
While looking on the bright side is sometimes easier said than done, the sight of my youngest at the stove, spatula in hand, is enough to remind me that things can only get better. Messier, maybe, but definitely better.