School started last week, and everyone got a year older and a little bit more independent and it was all good. They’re all still in the same school, and all three of them have fantastic teachers that they’ve had before. The Little Miss got cut off from her best buddies but she makes new friends easily, and the older two are happily with good friends. At home, I’m breathing deeply in the glory of the silence, and attacking my miles-long, I’ll-do-it-when-the-kids-start-school to-do list. All is well.
The big marker of time passing, though, the stumbling block for me, is that my nephew started university this fall. He’s not my first nephew to reach university age, but the difference is that he’s going to the same university that I went to, the place where Sir Monkeypants and I met. It’s a little too close to home.
I find I’m being kept up nights thinking about all the stupid stuff we did in university, right from day one. The drinking, the parties, the way people in first year residence – 18 year olds! – were sleeping around. The way you’d stay up all hours of the night, then drag yourself to class in the morning, only to fall asleep at your desk. The way the stove in the common room got set on fire on a regular basis. The sudden way you’re thrown into situations you have absolutely no frame of reference for – deciding, for example, who is going to clean up your friend who is lying on someone’s living room floor in a puddle of vomit; surviving for weeks on nothing but french fries and pop from the mini fridge in your room; figuring out just how little work you can do to sneak by on an assignment.
I was a super goody-goody in high school, a kid with a “head on her shoulders,” and I was actually a lot like that in university, too – I didn’t drink, and I did a lot of babysitting of other drunk people. But even I was not immune to the total bacchanalia that is first year university, at least for engineers, which are maybe the worst of the lot.
I think of my nephew, who I held as a baby, who I played stuffed monkeys with as a toddler, who I chatted with about Harry Potter and Percy Jackson like, yesterday, and now he’s out in that wild world. His parents dropped him off, and they will literally not see him for six weeks, until he comes home for Thanksgiving. Maybe they’ll get a weekly phone call. In between, who knows where he is, or what he’s doing. It’s terrifying.
I know he’s a pretty solid kid, actually, and one thing that worries me so much is that I don’t actually live with him, so I don’t always see the little ways that he’s already all-grown-up and able to take care of himself. But when I think of my own babies off at university – panic time. There’s only, what, five more years I have left to teach the Captain kung fu, how to know your limit, proper use of birth control, and all the intricacies of boy-girl relationships? NOT ENOUGH TIME.
Better buckle down.