A bittersweet send-off

Published 11:38 am Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Like many other Shelby County parents, I just sent a child off to college.

Our youngest son, Will, headed to Auburn University for what I hope will be a successful college career.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid his excitement has more to do with getting his apartment and living two hours away from my watchful gaze than it does with going to school.

All of us who are sending our kids away share in a crosscurrent of emotions.

On the one hand, I am so excited for my son embarking on this great time in his life; on the other, I am worried that he will enjoy life a little too much and not take school seriously.

As I go through this milestone with Will, I become more appreciative of the worry my parents surely felt (I went to school 500 miles away) when they sent me off to school.

What is a parent to do? Many of us would like to pack up our footlockers and go off with our kids, or lock them in their rooms at home and just not let them grow up.

It is hard to turn them loose to face all the challenges of today’s world and not keep them under our protective wings.

But, I know that much of my education came not from the classroom but from experiencing new situations and new people while at school.

I’m going to miss Will terribly. My college years were wonderful and as I sent Will off, I took comfort in the fact that he is starting this great time in his life.

I know he is going to come into contact with new things and new people and because of these new experiences, he is going to grow as a person.

I know that Patricia and I “raised him right” and that he has a good foundation for making his life choices.

So, good luck Will and good luck to all of the other Shelby County kids that are spreading their wings. Work hard, enjoy life and remember where you came from.

Jim Fuhrmeister is the Shelby County Probate Judge.