Our oldest will be in her third year of college this fall. Due to AP/IB tests, she’s been a Junior for a semester, but her program is five years. Period. No way around it. Many universities have engineered their programs to make AP/IB credits worthless when it comes to shaving time off from earning the degree, but I digress.
The first part of the summer with our eldest was painful. We were walking on eggshells around her, waiting for the attitude to fall. It frequently did. For DD1, spending time at home is now an evil she has to put up with. The first Christmas break she came home, she cried at least half of the way home. Her home is now campus and her life is made up of her college friends. We are the crappy youth hostel she’s forced to stay in when the school is closed. This is how it feels to DH and I.
In May, before she found a summer job, DD1 did some classroom observations at the local high school. She plans to become a high school teacher, and although she claims I never suggested such a thing, I encouraged this very activity before she graduated from high school, when she was planning her college years.
My father taught high school, I was elementary, and a good third of my relatives are/were teachers. I grew up visiting my dad’s classroom at the high school and even sat through some of his college classes while growing up. The math department teachers came to our home for cook outs. Dad’s honors geometry class would come out to our home at the end of each year. I attended part of a math conference with my dad. I heard lots of educator shop talk through the years. My own experiences in the schools added to what I’d taken in growing up. I was interested to hear what she was seeing. I thought this would be something we could share, but DD1 wouldn’t talk to me at all. She responded with annoyance when I tried to engage her in conversation about the observations, then just stopped talking (we were having dinner as a family).
DD1’s friends all live a minimum of an hour and a half away, and the roads to get there are frequently filled with scary drivers. I’m not always comfortable driving the routes myself. The first gathering DD1 went to was at night. Before leaving, she turned off the location sharing on her phone. She loves to keep track of us when we’re traveling to visit her at school, but knowing that we were worried about traffic, she shut us out.
Now, we understand that this is the time of pulling away from the nest and growing up. What is going on with DD1 feels miles beyond that.
We barely see her, even when she’s in the house with us. She barely speaks to us.
We are not constantly asking where she is, who she’s with, rarely ask her to be home by a certain time, etc.
The other night she took off on foot to a nearby park – at 10pm – not telling us. We saw the outside light on from our bedroom window and pieced it together. She came home around 11:30pm. Our parks close at dusk, and it’s never a good idea for a girl to be out alone that late, especially in a park, especially on foot or on bicycle. DD1 went for a bike ride last night, leaving around 8pm and staying out until 11pm. DH texted her around 10:40 to ask her to come home. She ignored him then slammed the door when she returned.
We’re in a relatively safe town, but it’s not smart to be out alone in the parks that late at night. She doesn’t know it yet, but we’ll be talking tonight after she’s home from work. I’m not looking forward to it.
We’re tired of the rudeness being flung at us. The beginning of the summer had her rolling her eyes and giving exasperated sighs when I would ask for her work schedule. We’re sharing a vehicle. I have to know her schedule so I can plan my errands and such. It’s also just common courtesy to share the schedule with us. At least the eye rolls stopped.
We had about a month in which the tension eased, but it’s fully back. She has a countdown app on her phone counting to move-in day for school. Her job takes her back mid August, and it will be a relief to us all. (DD1 and DD2 have tension every break as well.)
DH and I will have to choose our words carefully tonight. There are several things which we would love to say, but which would only make things worse.
I don’t know what the future holds here. I’m worried about a previously good relationship with our daughter being flushed down the toilet – mostly by her. I’m hoping it’s just rebellion to be more of an adult and that we might be able to clear some air tonight.