My first semester as a college dad

(Or, my life as a freight train)

Like the slow but inevitable plodding of a freight train, my life continues to move down the tracks…whether I like it or not. Yeah, that’s me, back there on the caboose, just trying to hang on.

This fall, the train that is my life passed through another major crossing gate as my eldest son, Andrew, headed off to college. It was mostly a smooth transition, moving from college visits last year to offer letters, high school graduation and the eventual selection of a school. I knew it was coming.

And we liked his choice. It’s far enough away (about 100 miles) to give my son some freedom, while giving my wife and I some solace in knowing we can get there relatively quickly if we need to and/or frequently if we want to. All was good, right?

Well, as good as can be expected when 20% of your life packs up and moves away.

Believe me, I’ve tried at times to apply the brakes to my life’s train, but it doesn’t seem to matter. At this point, I can’t even get them to make that annoying, metal-on-metal squealing noise any more. My life has crested and the train is doing what trains will do downhill — it’s picking up speed.

Funny how most of us can’t wait to get things moving when we’re young, only to find ourselves begging for them to slow down later in life.

The really cool part, though, is that I can now see my son’s train gathering steam. Not only is it out of the station, it’s surging forward and leaving those huge, black cylindrical smoke patterns behind it as it heads up the first big hill.

He’s doing well in his classes, has joined a fraternity and just signed a lease for a house he and his frat brothers will rent next fall. He’s well on his way and we know the work he’s putting in now means his train will have many tracks from which to choose in the future.

We hope we’ve prepared him well enough for life’s twists and turns; he’s a responsible young man and we’re proud to tell people he’s our son. But there’s only one way to find out if we’ve done our job well and that’s to wait and see.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t control what’s down the track for Andrew. My natural instinct is to protect him — to head down that track and clear the way for him. But I can’t do that. Not now.

He’s a big train and he can handle it. Right?

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.