Monday, November 4, 2013

Panic of the Parent of the Soon-To-Be Fledgling

What do you call the shock that new parents experience when they realize their son or daughter will be moving away to college in less than three years?  Perhaps the term could be "Panic of the Parent of the Soon-To-Be Fledgling."  Hmmm, that's unwieldy.

Whatever it's called, that's what I got.  It's like you're hiking briskly on an easy trail, and then you look back and notice zombies lumbering along behind you, in relentless pursuit.  You suddenly turn a corner and see a steep, daunting, rocky ascent.  The weather turns cold, and dark storm clouds devour the sun.  And you suddenly realize that you didn't pack rain gear or a hearty snack.

This particular type of panic, of some fearful thing that looms in the future, is ideal for getting my heart racing -- much better than a jolt of "red-eye" coffee.  I can rouse myself out of bed with it in the morning to kick-start the day.

The panic started suddenly over the weekend while we attended our very first college fair with our grade ten daughter.  We joked with her to tell the representatives of far off colleges that the primary reason she's interested in their school is because she wants to move as far away as possible from her parents.

Usually panic arises when one is unprepared.  That's true in this case, too.  We haven't prepared our daughter to be self-sufficient.  We have about two-and-a-half years to encourage our daughter to:
  • Shop for her own groceries, supplies and toiletries.
  • Manage her own bank account and finances.
  • Do her own laundry.
  • Remind her about appointments.
  • Eat and drink and take supplements on a fixed schedule.
  • Get herself ready for the day.
On top of that, I'm the one she turns to for night-before-the-big-scary-test help sessions in math and science.

But the worst part is we haven't put any money into a college savings account.  I've put any extra money into the 401(k) plan that my employer manages.  We also didn't count on my wife becoming partly disabled, so not only does my wife not earn money, we spend money on her multiple doctors and medication.

Well, that's the good thing about panic -- it gives you the energy to prepare.  And if my wife and I are clever about it, we'll have our daughter soon doing the laundry.

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