Survival of the fittest

Campus will be buzzing Monday as another new semester begins at WKU. Based on the chatter I’m seeing on Facebook and Twitter, some students are ready to come back and some are perfectly content to enjoy the extended break.

The transition to college life is tough. It’s one of those major and memorable events that changes a person forever. It’s a time of life that is fun, scary, exciting and sometimes even a little sad (I remember the day I got my acceptance letter, because my mom locked herself in the bathroom and cried). These transitioning students are young adults, but at the same time, they are also big kids. The transition to adulthood isn’t yet complete.

Unfortunately many kids come to college who are unprepared for both the sudden new-found freedom and the rigors of college coursework. Even though I don’t typically work directly with students, I still see it all the time. They get downright giddy when they realize no one is hovering over them or telling them when to come home. They can hang out with whomever they want, whenever they want…and they do. They can choose not to go to class, and while it might affect their grade, no one is going to call their parents to see why they are absent. They are not only allowed to think for themselves, but they are encouraged to do so.

The popular kids and the smart kids who were once the top dogs in their high schools are suddenly small fish in a big pond, and not being in the spotlight can be a big adjustment. Students are suddenly surrounded by an increasingly diverse group of classmates after possibly having spent the previous 13 years surrounded by basically the same group of kids. Hopefully they’ll figure out quickly that just because everyone doesn’t look or sound or think like them, that that makes them even more interesting!

<Soapbox Alert!>

As parents we have to begin prepping our kids to survive this major life change early on. We can’t wait until their senior year of high school to decide that they need to know how to make good decisions. And they need to know how to solve problems without having to rely on mom and dad for things they could easily handle on their own.

Frequently I see students who have an issue with a class or financial aid or housing or any number of other things. Typically they know WHO they should talk to, but they often don’t know HOW to approach the situation diplomatically. In many cases momma has always taken care of everything for them – they’ve never had to work something out on their own, and therefore they don’t know what to do. College students are young adults – they are old enough to try to find solutions to their problems (without having to get momma involved), but they need to be allowed to practice problem solving before they leave home. It’s all part of spreading their wings and becoming independent and self-sufficient adults.

My hope is that my boys have enough confidence and discipline to be successful when they get to college. I want them to be able to make good decisions and to solve inevitable problems that will arise. Of course I’ll help them when they need it – I’m not going to just throw them into the world and wish them good luck. But at the same time, I’m not always going to taking care of my baby birds. I want them to be prepared to survive and thrive when they leave the nest!

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There’s no place like home, but…

I might regret admitting this to the world, and I’ll probably get blasted for saying it, but here goes…I don’t think I could be a stay at home mom. Not because I don’t love my home. Not because I don’t love my kids. Neither of those could be further from the truth. The past two weeks I have been at home much more than usual, and while I’ve loved spending extra time with my youngest son, I have discovered what I long suspected: I’m a lazy sloth. Seriously, if I stayed home every day I would probably sleep until 10 am, stay in my pajamas all day and go up a few dress sizes, because I’d eat everything in sight.

I admire parents who stay at home and make it work, and sometimes I downright envy them. For some people it is the perfect life, and for some it’s not. I know myself well enough to know that it’s not for me. The lure of HGTV and Food Network (which always results in a trip to the kitchen), not to mention my comfy sofa are just too strong. Instead of coming home to a clean house and home cooked meal, Craig would most likely come home to a disheveled wife, piles of laundry and a DiGiorno in the oven. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I know what his expectations would be, and I know that I wouldn’t meet them. Not a good combination.

I’m a more productive person when I’ve got a set schedule and places that I have to be at certain times every single day. I guess I’m a lot like a kid…I thrive on structure. So even though there’s no place like home, and I know it sounds counterproductive, I’ve realized that I get a lot more done around home when I’m not here all the time. I’ve been telling Alex ever since baseball season ended that he has way too much free time on his hands and he doesn’t use his time wisely when that happens. I guess now I have to be big enough to admit that I know where he gets it!