By Jennifer Linde
Over spring break, the Teenager and I planned and executed a mother– daughter road trip to visit some universities she is interested in attending. We stopped and visited the Grandpa of No and ate his food for two days, then ventured out further. It was a lot of fun. We had some bonding time and we got lost a couple of times, but we made it home safely.
One thing I noticed about each of the six universities that we visited is, at some point along the campus tour, the student leading the group would stop and say something about campus security and how the university takes student safety seriously. Then they’ll go into the spiel about the campus security call boxes and the process through which a student can get an escort back to the dorm or a vehicle if they don’t feel safe. The safety measures are all pretty much the same. If you are a student and need to get safely back to your car after that 2 a.m. library study session, they have you covered.
I know the purpose of this stop on the tour: Don’t worry, Mom and Dad. At (insert name of school), we have your young adult’s safety covered. No worries here. Time to move along now to the brand new biology building and the rec center which is free for students because you are paying for it with their student services fees!
The Teenager, however, seems to have given the subject of her safety a bit more comprehensive thought. Before we hit the open road, we decided to eat lunch at a local burger place. While we were waiting for our food to arrive, somehow the conversation got around to the topic of “The rules of safety when I go away to college.”
“Don’t worry, Mom,” she told me. “I know the rules about college. Bring your own drinks to parties. If you walk away from your drink, throw it away when you come back and get another one, or use that nail polish that tells you if there’s drugs in your drink. If you go out with a guy, take his picture or a picture of his car before you leave on your date and text it to your friends so if something happens to you, your friends can tell the police who you were with. And if he won’t let you take his picture, then maybe you shouldn’t go out with him.”
I have to admit, I was a bit impressed. I was also hoping that those drinks she was referring to would be nonalcoholic ones, since she’s nowhere near 21, and that by “party” what she was actually referring to was “going to the campus library to study quietly with people I know from class who are also serious about their academic success.”
Am I getting a bit nervous about sending my daughter off to college? Yes. Yes, I am. I am the Mom of I am Going to Text You 12 Times Every Single Day.
I know, because I have been there myself, at some point in her young adulthood she will make an error in judgment. We all do. I wish I hadn’t done that. I wish I had made a different choice. I wasn’t thinking it through. I can only hope that her mistakes aren’t life changing ones, or, worse, life ending ones. Our society seems to give young men who make bad mistakes a break — we don’t want to ruin his future because of one mistake —while penalizing young women — she shouldn’t have been drunk in the first place!
However, I’m nearly to the point where I have to cross my fingers and send her out into the world, hoping that her risk assessment skills are functional enough to keep her out of real trouble.
I also wonder what conversations the parents of young men about to go off to college are having with their sons. Do you know that the conversations those of us with daughters are having seem to indicate that it is safer for them to assume that your sons are up to no good until proven otherwise? I know plenty of wonderful young men. I don’t want to think that about your sons.
I can only hope that we are all having a similar conversation. Be responsible. Be respectful of others, no matter their gender. Speak up when you see something going wrong for someone else. Don’t take advantage of other people. And text your mother at least once a day, even if it’s just to ask for pizza money. Studying hard will make you hungry.
Read more memoirs and musings from The Mom of No at themomofno.blogspot.com