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Kids go off to college and it’s time (for parents) to grow up

The University of Washington has the largest freshman class in its history with about 6,000 students. With children going off to college, it's definitely time to grow up - the parents that is. (Linda Thomas photo)

She’s one in 6,000.

The University of Washington has the largest freshman class in its history and my daughter was one of the thousands of new students moving into the dorms.

There’s no reason for me to cry as she leaves for college. I’m one of the lucky parents who get to have a child within a short drive if she needs anything, or if I need to see my best friend.

Energetic students with purple “Dawg Crew” t-shirts roll large bins to our minivan. They load up boxes and bags, containers and clothes. With a confident, choreographed flare, they zoom the carts toward the dorm’s elevators.

That’s a nice, subtle message you have going there UW. Upperclassmen move freshman in a highly organized fashion – a reminder that you’ve done this a million times before.

There’s nothing left for me to carry except my iPhone as I take a few pictures and walk behind the cart loaded with Maddie’s stuff.

Inside the building, parents are told they should take the stairs so there’s more room in the elevators for moving carts. I see what you’re doing there UW. That’s another hint that you’ve got this handled without me, don’t you?

As she puts shoes and clothes in her closet, I’m grasping for things to do. I’ll make the bed; you need me for that. I’ll recycle the cardboard boxes; I’m good at that. I’ll hang up your towels; I can do that. Helpful as always. Right?

Now there’s nothing left to do except say see ya later.

There’s still no need to cry. So I won’t.

Except, I do.

Of course I was teary. I cried when she went to preschool and that was just a few blocks away. These tears are different though. They’re grateful tears. I’m blessed that we are so close and I’ve been able to share every significant moment with her for 17 years.

But what about our insignificant moments? The “let’s watch an episode of Real Housewives” or “get frozen yogurt” or “go for a walk around Green Lake” moments. I still want those.

She reassures me those will still happen and then she says, “I’ll see you on Sunday.”

Wait, Sunday?

“Tomorrow’s Friday, and then Saturday, and then Sunday comes,” Maddie says, talking to me like I’m the child and she’s the adult. We’ve been in these roles before.

I’m puzzled as to why I won’t see her before Sunday. There are two days in between that I could see her.

“There are events,” she says. “I’m doing orientation events for the next couple of days.”

“Could I join you?” I ask (only kind of kidding).

“On Sunday, for Convocation, when parents can come,” she says with the same confidence the upperclassmen have as they shuttle carts from cars to rooms.

“Parents can’t come tomorrow?” I pathetically inquire one more time.

“I don’t think so,” she says.

That’s not a “no.”

Good luck to the moms and dads watching kids go off to college. And good luck to my sweetie.

She’s one in a million.

By LINDA THOMAS, a proud though teary UW mom. Go Huskies!

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