I want to start out by bragging about my college age children a bit. If you have children at college then you already understand that the transitions between vacation and school can be tricky to navigate. At school your child is an autonomously functioning adult. They are responsible for what they do and when. Yet when they arrive home for vacations, they enter a grey area. No longer are they responsible just for themselves, but they are back in a family with other people and they must think of those people. Also, it is so easy for both parent and child to fall back into old patterns, all the while the young adult tries to somehow maintain that sense of independence at school.
I will say that I think my young adults manage these transitions pretty well. On our parts, J. and I try to remember that their role in the family has changed. This means we try not to tell them what to do and when. I also try not to assume that they will be free to do something, and am sure to check their calendars with them. I will admit to taking advantage of the extra childcare available a few times and the extra driver more than a few times, but I did check first. On their side, both of them are very good about asking if they are needed at home before going ahead with plans of their own and also letting me know ahead of time if they won't be around for a meal. It works well if everyone makes the little extra effort to be considerate of one another.
What impresses me most about these two is the effort they take to keep relationships going with their younger brothers and sisters. It is not something that they need to do. They could spend most of the their time focusing on their own stuff and not pay much attention to the little noise makers who live in the house. Yet they do take the time with them. I have loved watching the relationships continue even though M. and B. are not around as much these days. As a parent, it makes me so happy.
Of course the flip side of this it means that when it is time for M. and B. to go back to school it is a very sad thing. K. spent the entire weekend announcing how he didn't want Sunday to come because he didn't want M. and B. to go. It was pretty pathetic, but not unusual for him to express how he is feeling. This is as opposed to TM, who as a rule cannot interpret the emotions he is feeling and as a result was captive to them. He knew he felt something and that something was making him miserable, but didn't know why and pretty much took all this miserableness out on those around him. TM and M. had had a particularly nice time together over break and I knew he would be extremely upset to see her go back to school. And so I braced myself for the storm which I knew would come.
Sometimes I am wrong and in this particular instance, I am extremely happy to be wrong. Life has been as even keeled as it ever is around here this week. Why is that? Well, I think it is solely due to one thing. TM was able to self-identify what he was feeling and express it. If that doesn't count as a miracle, I don't know what does. On Sunday, TM was watching M. pack up her stuff to move back that afternoon. As he stood and watched her and looked at the boxes and bags, he says, "I don't like to look at all that stuff because it makes me sad." The earth probably shook as a result, did you feel it?
I don't think I can fully express how huge this is. He felt something, he was able to identify what he was feeling and the cause, and he was able to verbalize it out loud. Huge. Huge. Huge. It made me teary when it happened and it still makes me a bit teary to write it out.