Today is the first day of new student orientation at the university where I teach. The place is crawling with students and their parents. It is terrifying (summer is really over) and I want nothing more than to go home and pretend that classes do not start in a few days.
I had meetings all morning, and at 2PM, shaking with hunger, I popped in the student center to grab some lunch. Just as I walked in the door, I realized that this place too is packed to the brim with the students and their parents. Just then a huge clap of thunder sounded, as if in direct relation to my emotion. Then it sunk it what the thunder meant — I am trapped in here until the storm stops.
So here I sit, in the midst of all these anxious and nervous families, trying to look like I am doing something important with my laptop. When my parents dropped me off at college I could not wait for them to leave. I hated high school and college to me symbolized freedom: from my old-self, from my school, and from my parents. I went 500+ miles away from home and sometimes even that did not feel far enough away. These kids do not seem to want their parents to leave them (one girl next to me was even crying) and seem hesitant to embark on their newly independent life.
I first started teaching full-time when I was 24, not much older than the upperclass students in my courses. Now I am 32 and I realize I relate more to the parents of these students than the students themselves. There is nothing in the world like 18-year olds and their parents to make you feel mature and responsible.
This is going to be a hard year for these students. They are going to have to grow and change and that is never easy, even if it is for the better. Most of what they learn will occur outside of the classroom — “life lessons” — but I do my part to try and inspire them in the classroom as well.
I wonder what I would say to my 18-year old self. Would I tell myself what to expect? Would I want to know about the heartache and the miscarriages? I would want to tell myself, but at 18-years old I would not want to know what lay ahead. That is how I am trying to approach my life now. Would 40-year old me want to tell me what is coming or is it just better to live life as it comes? I still do not think I want to know the future. It is hard enough dealing with what comes along every day.
In the words of Paul McCartney:
Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, rah [or bra or there, depending on what you hear]
La-la how the life goes on.
My song edit:
And on. And on. And on. And on. And on.
Especially when you are trying unsuccessfully to have a baaaaaay-bi-da.