A Cautionary Tale of Saying Goodbye to Friends as Our Children Leave for University

Our children want nothing more than to leave the nest for university.

Our children want nothing more than to leave the nest for university. They are good and ready, and with mixed emotions, so are we as parents. Like most/many parents, I cried when both left. 

Since my daughter said goodbye to her friends at graduation as she graduated from an international school in England and goodbyes were said at graduation parties, most kids were traveling by public transportation. Our son graduated from the US, where classmates lived far from one another and cars were required for parties because classmates were scattered around the city. 

The night before our son was to leave for university, he and one of  his closest friends decided it would be good to say goodbye to their friends. As a side note, this close friend just happened to be the daughter of my oldest friend.  At this point in life, we had known each other for close to 50 years. 

We gave our son a curfew because we had an early flight to university. My husband and I went to sleep knowing that our son would not break curfew. Well, not so fast. We were woken up by a phone call: Mom, Dad, I crashed the car and Amy is bleeding. The fortunate part, they ‘crashed the car’ in our neighborhood. Only a few miles away. 

Needless to say, we bolted upright in bed and couldn’t get dressed fast enough. We found the car down an embankment, our son waiting for us on the road while Amy was still in the car-yes, bleeding. The paramedics arrived, pulled Amy from the car, the tow truck came and took the totaled car away. Both ‘kids’ were taken to the hospital to get checked out. In addition, a special police officer stayed with both to make sure no alcohol or drugs were involved. And, fortunately there were none. Both got away with minimal injuries. 

Our son received a ticket for reckless driving because he injured someone in the car. He had to face a judge and we hired an attorney to assist us. No question, he was guilty. 

There is a happy ending, of course. While these good friends emerged almost unscathed from a totalled car, there are lessons to be learned. We were ‘hung up’ on making sure our son made ‘mature’ decisions. If I could replay this evening with the ‘if I knew then what I know now’, I would do one of a few things- host a goodbye open house for parents and their grads, clearly not have my child leave for a party or a goodbye cruise around the city to see friends the night before leaving (even with the guarantee of both saying they would be home early)  for university. Our kids leave our grasp when going to college, we can have one last grasp of their hand before they step on campus.

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