I just found out there’s no such thing as the real world.
-- John Mayer, 2002
Reminiscing as I drove around Manhattan, Kansas on my appointed Saturday rounds. Move-in weekend for college students. It's days like today when our college town earns its bona fides. Although you see fewer pickups/stock trailers and more SUVs/u-hauls today than a decade back.
I think it’s more of that subtle transition we’re living through. K-State will always be a land grant, but today in Aggieville, you’re just as likely to see a kid in Wranglers and square toe boots sitting next to a kid with gauged ears and tats.
Dining on sushi.
I saw parents gearing up physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and existentially for THE INEVITABLE TEARFUL GOODBYE (my caps.) I saw fledgling freshmen eager to avoid it.
Been there. Nine years ago this weekend.
Moving my son into McCollum Hall at the University of Kansas, my message was consistent: While the academic pursuits are important, these young adult years in an institution of higher learning are even better for learning the ways of the world. The tangible learning takes care of itself. Study. Read. Write. Discuss among yourselves.
But the intangible discoveries are key. Pay attention to processes, systems, human motivation, time management, adaptation, work-arounds, relating to your fellow human being. This is the stuff that’ll help you survive and succeed in “the real world.”
Weren’t able to get into that Biology class you desperately needed for second semester? Figure it out. Roommate stumbles in at 3 in the morning throwing up on your shoes? Deal with it. Don’t have enough money for the essentials? Determine what’s essential.
These are the years when the answers to ‘what’s important?’ begin to coalesce. It’s not until you realize you don’t know how to value things that you really begin to develop a good value system.
On the ground that weekend in Lawrence, my son quickly got over whatever trepidation he may have harbored when he found out his roommate was a young man with whom he played Little League ball.
It was all gravy from there.
Hauling in the last load, I’m gearing up physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and existentially for THE INEVITABLE TEARFUL GOODBYE and he’s nowhere to be found. Across the parking lot, I hear his voice. He and his new roommate are wasting no time. They’ve introduced themselves to some girls and are helping tote their stuff into McCollum Hall.
As they approach me standing on the sidewalk, my son senses I’m gearing up physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and existentially for THE INEVITABLE TEARFUL GOODBYE and re-writes the scene on the fly, shooting me a nod, as he passes by with his new friends.
“Seeyalater Pop, thanks!”
That’s my boy.
Already problem solving.