Trying Not to Dwell on That Day We Will Send Him Off on His Own

The other day my son Sean and I were waiting in the doctor’s office for his annual checkup. On the wall was one of those public health posters describing developmental milestones for children, from two months to five years and beyond. It included markers such as “is more creative with make-believe play” and “cooperates with other children.” I joked that as a teenager he had mastered this one: “Begins to act bored (cries, fussy) if activity doesn’t change.” We had a good laugh.

Sean is 17, a senior in high school. Next year he goes off to college. He’s in the throes of the university application mini-drama now, and the nearest school he’s considering is a four-hour drive. A day is coming that I don’t really want to think much about, the day we leave him at the dorm and take that long walk back to the car for the drive home. So I find myself measuring out this year as one of lasts: the last soccer game, the last Aikido practice, the last morning I hug him before he races off to the school bus.