Our oldest monkey girl is home from college for a short while this summer before she jets off to her summer job as a camp counselor. Pete and I are so excited to have her home hanging out with her other monkey kin. We love seeing them all goofing off together. Like this past weekend, when they were washing the van, or each other, or something like that.
Pete and I love hanging out with our oldest girl so much. She is a breath of fresh air. It's so hard to believe that she has completed her first year of college already.
There is something very surreal about having two kids in college. Our oldest son just completed his third year of college. He is out living on his own now and mostly independent. I remember the first time that he moved out at the beginning of his Freshmen year. It was tough stuff. We missed him terribly. I mean, he is our first monkey and he was with us mostly everyday of his life, and then to have him not here at the dinner table every night or just chilling out with us was traumatic. No one prepares you for that transition.
Then he moved back in and we were thrilled to have him here again. However, while "home" had remained largely the same for us physically and mentally, for him "home" was different. The same mental shift has happened with our oldest daughter. Her "home"for the past nine months has been her college. She has developed relationships there, she has built a life for herself there. She studies, eats, sleeps, works, plays and dreams big dreams there. I think that in order to really thrive and blossom there, she had make a mental shift from our home that we have always shared to her new home. That is another tough, but necessary transition.
So, now that she is home for awhile this summer, what adjustments will she need to make? What adjustments will we all need to make? We worked through some of these "coming home" adjustments with our oldest monkey, and we learned a lot, but there is still so much to learn. Because let's face it, coming home can be awkward at times.
Monkey girl and I sat down and talked about the pros and cons of being home. Thankfully, there are many more pros than cons.
She loves being able to be here with her family. There is nothing like face to face conversations and real hugs as opposed to Skype or phone communication.
After being on a meal plan and eating cafeteria food for nine months, she is thrilled to have healthy home cooked meals.
Since she works two jobs, volunteers, plus has a full time college load, having a more relaxed schedule for a little while is nice.
She has more time be creative and to plan without the pressures of "what's next?" in her daily college grind.
She feels out of the loop with our family schedule and with some of her friends back here in town. She realizes that while her life is happening at college, life is also happening here and with her friends. She is trying to get up to date on it all.
It is strange to her to not have the structure of going to chapel everyday. She came to enjoy that aspect of her college. It kept her challenged and now she knows that she will have to find other ways to grow spiritually this summer.
It is weird to have parents on the scene now. She is used to making her own schedule and decisions at school and now she has to include us to a certain degree because she is living here and we have to run a household.
We both agreed that communication is key in having your college-aged child come home for a season. Parents should clearly communicate any expectations or boundaries that they have. The young adult should respect those boundaries and agree to communicate their needs. For example, we have a curfew for our college aged kids. It's liberal. If our kids know that they won't be home by that designated time, they should text or call ahead of time and let us know. We also don't care for our oldest kids sleeping all day. It sets a bad example for their younger siblings. We ask them to be up and about by 10 AM at the latest. We have a household to run and we want them to participate as much as possible. I lovingly tell them that this is not a hotel.
Overall, the transition from college to home is doable. We are all finding our "new normal". It's just so wonderful to be together that any "awkwardness" is totally worth it.