All across the country little birds are leaving the nest, aka high school grads heading off to college. This week, we took our own daughter to her college orientation. I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy. From week to week, my feelings about this whole life event change. This week I was on the “get the F*#$  out of my house” train, but when they flashed, “Welcome to Your Kid’s New Home, the University From Which She’ll Never Call You” on the screen in the opening program, I nearly lost my mind. Starving toddlers who missed naptime have wailed with less volume than I did when the reality hit me.

My baby is going to leave me.

F- Bomb Train derailed.

Let’s focus on that for just a moment. This is only orientation. She isn’t even moving into her dorm room for another month.

Instead of thinking about everything about her that I was going to miss, I decided to focus on the school and my beautiful girl and all of the new experiences waiting for her.

It was her orientation, but I learned a few lessons myself.

9 & 1/2 Things I Learned at My Kid’s College Orientation

1.  I totally should have gone away to college. This place is the bomb! At the opening welcome they actually told the kids they expect them to fail and that it is a sign of future success! What?! When I failed a class in community college they laughed at me and took my money. Then, I had to go back home and live in my parent’s basement.

2. The couch in Starbucks on campus is THE best nap spot in the entire world. I will drive three hours just to nap on that couch. I’m not even joking.I might not even tell her I’m here. She’ll walk into Starbucks (out of her budget, by the way) and there’s her mom, drooling, racked out on the ugly, gray couch.

3. I do not want to live with my daughter anymore, but I don’t want her to move away. It’s okay. She doesn’t want to live with me, either, and she does want to move away. I just think one person using all of the towels in the linen closet for one shower is a little excessive. Petty, sure. Seriously, though. All the towels? Every time? NO!

4. I might not have gone to a four year university, but her dad did. He went to this exact same college and ate the exact same cafeteria food. The SAME food. It is still sitting there in the warmers from 1996. That has to be some kind of health code violation. I probably should have called someone.

5. The lighting in dorm hallways is horrible. She told me that she was very concerned that she’d be shot based on the eerie, flickering lights outside her room. I took care to reassure her that just isn’t true. Flickering lights are clearly an indicator for stabbings, not shootings.

6. Eighteen is truly the best age to go away to school. Do NOT let your kids take a year or two off to “find themselves.” Not because they might never go back, but because they might actually find themselves and never move out after all. 

7. Which leads me to my next realization: at eighteen they know everything. Every. Single. Freaking. Thing. They don’t need you. Every time her father or I tried to give her any small bit of wisdom, advice, tried to tell her there was a car coming so she didn’t get hit because she wasn’t looking up from Pokemon Go, we were met with an epic eye roll and “OH MY GAWWWSH! I KNOOOW!” Go, Kid, go. I’ll see you next week when the magic plastic card in your wallet stops working. Because it ran out of money. Because you don’t know how it works and you wouldn’t listen when we tried to teach you. Have fun with that.

7 1/2. My child is motivated entirely by food. In all fairness I already knew this. This information was reinforced, however, when we discovered the dorm she requested is located directly across the street from the dining hall where she has demanded we purchase the most expensive, all inclusive meal package in the history of eating. 

8. College campuses are comprised primarily of hills that seem to go straight up no matter which way you are headed. These are designed to discourage parents, old and out of shape parents, from visiting unannounced and catching their kids spending financial aid money on beer. (This may have also answered the mystery of my father’s childhood, walking uphill both ways to school. I’m sorry I didn’t believe, Dad.)

And finally…

9. I’m not remotely ready to say goodbye to my girl. She drives me crazy and I adore her. She is equal parts funny, annoying, smart, oblivious, generous, selfish, loving, short tempered, and everything else in between. I’ve spent her whole life loving her and trying to prepare her for just this moment. Now that it is here, I’m not sure I remembered to prepare myself. That will have to be my next lesson.