Finishing freshman year of college.
My daughter attended an independent school in Charlotte from Transitional Kindergarten through 12th grade, and the former head of the school often had wise words to share. One of his favorite phrases? “Finish well.” As the end of each school year approached, I would remind our daughter, “Finish well!” Did she always hear me? She always finished pretty well, so maybe.
Now, the end of her freshman year of college is rapidly approaching. Like a train out of control, freshman year is moving forward at lightning speed. She will be home in less than a week. Less than a week! I find myself saying, “Finish well!”
We moved her into her dorm at the beginning of August. It was an exciting time. It was a scary time. Like lots of moms out there, I was excited for her to experience college, but I was nervous about leaving her 450 miles away. However, I remembered something I had read before:
Put the basket in the water.
I got that sentence from a piece written by Ashlei Woods. You can read it here. “Put the basket in the water” is a reference to the time of Moses, when midwives were ordered by Pharaoh to kill baby boys born to Israelites by drowning them in the Nile. Moses’s mother, in an effort to save her baby, placed him in a basket and placed the basket in the river, in hopes that he would live. I’m no Biblical scholar, but even I remember the story from Sunday School lessons. Moses did live, obviously, and went on to become a great prophet. I certainly don’t expect my daughter to become a great prophet, but I want her to live and become the best person she can be. I want her to live life. And by placing her proverbial basket in that proverbial river (college), I sent her on her way.
Has she learned things in college that will help her in her future endeavors? In short, yes. She has learned something in each class she has taken. She has learned about music, public relations, writing…so much. More importantly, she has learned more about who she is. She has learned how to make friends from lots of different places. She has learned how to handle medical emergencies and automobile situations. She has learned how to make doctor appointments and pick up her own prescriptions. And even though I always tried to expose her to as many new experiences as possible, she has been exposed to even more new experiences. She has learned to manage on her own. Sure, she still gets advice (sometimes wanted, sometimes not) from me, but she is doing it! We still support her financially, but she is doing it! We put the basket in the water, and we trusted God and trusted her.
Have there been hiccups along the way? Yes, but she has learned from each one. Last week, SpaceX launched a test rocket…the most powerful one ever launched. There was excitement surrounding it, but it failed. And afterward, Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, seemed happy in spite of the failure, saying they (the engineers, the company) would learn a lot from the failure. He was excited about what they would learn! Those words stuck with me, because this very successful man was reminding the world that we learn from failure. Don’t get me wrong. Our daughter’s hiccups, so far, haven’t been in the classroom. But any hiccups she has experienced along the way have been opportunities for learning. Learning what doesn’t work is how she will learn what does work.
In a few days, we will move our daughter out of her freshman dorm. As she finishes her freshman year, I will remind her several times, “Finish well.” I am already reminding her to start packing things up and cleaning out her room. And after we get her home for the summer, I feel sure we will notice she is a different girl than the one we sent to college in August. She is older. She is more confident. She is more independent. She is more knowledgable. As my own parents said when I came home after my freshman year, “We sent our daughter off to college and got a different person back.” They often joked that I was “switched at college.”
We are excited to have our girl home soon.