One step closer to college

I’m in no rush, but time won’t stand still

Apparently, the finish line is in sight.

My daughter, a high school senior, was recently accepted to her No. 1 college choice. So by this time next year she’ll likely be living somewhere that’s not our house and this whole parenting thing will be over. Mission accomplished.

I know that’s not entirely true, and more importantly, I don’t want it to be. Right now it just seems that way.

When she was born, her mother and I envisioned things that might come to pass (note: If you start Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill” right now, this will all seem very cinematic). I could see her learning to walk, color, read, swim, root against Roger Goodell and eventually finish high school. But that’s where the visual images end. In the movie about our family that plays in my head — starring a dashing Bradley Cooper as the charmingly irascible dad — she throws her graduation cap into the air and everything fades to black and the credits roll.

Freeze this moment a little bit longer/Make each sensation a little bit stronger

I never looked beyond that point, and even now when I try, I can’t see anything. I think it’s because whatever does come next won’t happen in front of us. I’m sure we’ll get updates and reports about how things are going, but we won’t be in the next room if she needs anything. For the last 18 years, our lives have been defined by being her parents, and now that’s going to shift a bit.

I hate and hope in equal parts that she doesn’t need us quite as much. I know this is normal, and nudging your kid out of the nest is something every other parent has to do at some point — but that’s everyone else, not us.

I let my past go too fast/No time to pause

As a music major with her whole future in front of her, she offered this eventuality the other day: “What if an opportunity comes up for me to play somewhere in another part of the country and I never live in our home again?” It’s not unheard of. We have friends whose daughter arrived at college as a musical theater major and has found work in productions every summer since.

I was proud of my response. At first.

“We want you to pursue your dreams. We believe in you.”

“But… Don’t do that.”

In just a few months, we’ll move her into her dorm room and head home with only two of us in the car. On the ride back to New Hampshire, I will probably not be listening to one of my favorite Rush CDs, because if the song “Time Stand Still” comes on, some of the lyrics of which appear in this column, I’ll very likely drive off the Piscataqua River Bridge.

Summer’s going fast, night’s growing colder/Children growing up, old friends growing older

Despite my best efforts to keep her perpetually 7 years old, I know that everything is about to change.

Bill Burke lives with his wife and (for now) his daughter in southern New Hampshire, where he’s feverishly attempting to invent a time machine so we can do this all over again. If you haven’t figured it out, Dad on Board is a huge fan of the rock band Rush, just like the editor of this publication. He’s also the managing editor of custom publications for McLean Communications.

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