Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Fear

As I sit here this morning sipping my coffee and looking at the clock, I'm just one week away from taking Son2 to college. Next Sunday morning, he moves into his dorm. And I'm filled with excitement for him. But I'm also filled with anxiety and fear.

For those of you who have read along, you know enough about Son2 to have some understanding of all this.

The excitement is obvious, for sure. Any parent is excited to see their kid head off to college. Meeting new people, learning new things, taking a big independent step out into the world.

But there have been so many times in his life when we felt that college would never be a realistic option for Son2. The anticipation of him going to college has always been tempered by the reality that he might never go. The complexities of his disabilities just can't be ignored. This was something we knew might never happen.

But now it is. And we are grateful for the opportunity he has. Something for which he worked hard and struggled. And we are excited to see him take this step.

But oh, the anxiety! What will it be like for him? Can he make friends? Will he be able to be successful? Will he have a complete breakdown without the support network he has relied on for his entire life?

I have no doubt he can do the academics. He can read and write well. He can memorize names and dates and places. He can do algebra. He can formulate a good thesis and write a pretty good paper. He is no straight-A kid, but he can do the work.

But will he? Will he be able to make himself? Can he learn to organize his time? His materials? Can he handle the social demands of living in a dorm and attending college? Can he overcome the executive functioning disabilities that are such a part of Asperger's?

Yes, this is a program specifically designed to assist kids with learning disabilities. He'll have lots of help - if he learns to use those resources. And he wants it so badly. But will he take advantage? Can he?

And he feels the anxiety, as well. He just told me this week that the stereotype of the 40-year-old man living in the basement with his mom was, as he put it, "not entirely uncomfortable" for him.

We all have doubts. We all have fears. It will be a long week of final preparations, family dinners, and packing. And we'll move him in next Sunday with our fingers crossed and our lucky rabbit's foot in the pocket. We'll leave him behind....this kid who has never spent a night at a grandparent's house without us there. He'll be there in the dorm, on his own, starting college classes the next morning.

I'll want to call him Sunday night. I'll want to call after every class. But I won't. I know he has to do this.

But how long will it be before the fear goes away?


Cocotte said...

I am so excited for you, but I totally understand your fear. Wow! Please keep us posted.

Star said...

That's wonderful. Besides the fear you must be feeling immense pride. My experience of sending three daughters off to college is that all parents have fears, Not the same ones obviously, but still based on our own projections of what could be.
They never entirely cease, I am sorry to say. And they extend to other aspects of life.

secret agent woman said...

Mmm - never? I mean, I'm sure it will ease, but don't you imagine you'll worry about him some always? But what an amazing thing for him, and for you.

haphazardlife said...

You'll both do fine, I have no doubt

Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

Oh, Em, I'm feeling this too, knowing that it is just around the corner for us. The Fear. That's what everything has all come down to - wondering if our kids will be able to be (semi) independent. Wondering if college will actually be a reality for them, or if it's just a pipe dream for us. I'm so thrilled for you that Son2 is embarking on this next stage of life and will anxiously be awaiting updates. My thoughts are with you!