A Sad Moment of Realization & Reflection

My youngest son is going back to college tomorrow for his last semester. He has thoroughly enjoyed his four years and accomplished everything he sought out to do including founding a venture that will result in him moving far away immediately upon graduation. His parents are of course very proud.

He met his 3 best friends in kindergarten and have been the “core four” ever since. Birthday party’s, proms, good times bad times they have been thick as thieves ever since. Our basement walls have the scars and pizza smudges to prove it.

Last night his 3 buddies took my kid out to once again “bankrupt” the all you can eat sushi place and send him back properly as he is the first to return to school this break. Just another “normal” night in a never ending line of “normal” nights.

When he came home he walked into our bedroom and in a matter of fact voice said “it’s over”. I was confused thinking something bad had occurred.

He quickly explained that while he was sure him and his “crew” would get together again it would never be the same. They are all blessed to have post college plans and will all be on the move immediately once they graduate.

We recounted a bunch of great stories, laughed and felt very lucky but the conversation was somewhat sad. My kid mentioned that in spite of having experienced all the typical benchmarks graduations, birthdays, driver’s license, etc this moment for him felt the most meaningful because it wasn’t an arbitrary date but a true last day of his childhood. He tends not to be dramatic and it was obvious he really felt emotional.

We kept assuring him (and ourselves) that he would be coming “home” for visits and of course was always welcome but he just smiled and said I know.

As a parent I am prideful and thankful that my kids are responsible, confident and independent. None the less, a tough sleepless night realizing that a chapter of our lives just ended without ceremony or anticipation.

For those of you sending seniors back enjoy and appreciate the moment!! Thanks for enduring my rant, please share your versions.

54 Likes

Hi - I hear you on the bittersweet transition time. If it’s of any help, my son is now 30. He is still friends with his HS crew and is in the era of weddings, bachelor parties, etc. It’s not the same as them all hanging in the basement, but its absolutely a joy to see each of those kids thriving, moving through their own journeys, in adulthood. It sounds like you created a wonderful space for the kids to hang out and connect, all these years.

18 Likes

Thanks for the kind words. We are starting to see that dynamic with our older kids. It is comforting an amazing to see them become adults and parents.

The conversation last night just felt so abrupt. It hadn’t occurred to me to see it through his eyes.

I was looking forward to graduation as a moment of reflection and then anticipated a time of transition which is what we had enjoyed with his siblings.

We always joked that with my youngest we better write down his license plate once he could drive because he was such a free spirit. I suspect more dogs are in our future.

5 Likes

My son is now 37 and still has his “crew” – there are eight of them. Although they share group texts, it’s now extremely rare that they all get together. They live in different places and most of them have wives and children. I remember this part of my own life, and I know how tough it is to get together with the old crowd. Nevertheless, I think it’s great that they’re still in touch and still great friends. I hope your son always has that.

Now that I’m old, five of us from HS get together quarterly – well, before covid – and now Zoom occasionally. So let him know that these friendships are forever, even if the frequency of get-togethers will change.

4 Likes

I don’t have a senior. But my kid who graduated HS in 2003 also had a great core of 6 friends who did a lot together. Five of them still live locally. My kid lives thousands of miles away.

Everytime my kid comes here, that group gets together. Every time. They share what they are doing now…and continue to have fun. They text, use FaceTime when they are not in the same location.

It’s not over…it’s just different.

And like @VeryHappy, I have some high school (actually some are junior high) friends I see every time I get to my home town. And that’s over tons of years. We have a private FB group…and we have shared lots of things there as well.

7 Likes

This is true. I had a friend who always said that college graduation was the saddest day in our life. Nothing but real world and being an adult to look forward to.

I always tell my daughter that a true friend will always be a friend, no matter how long between seeing them you will always feel comfortable with each other.

I have a friend whom I know since first grade. We recently saw each other again after 10 years (she lives on the opposite coast and on her last few trips to see her family back home we did not connect.) It was like we hadn’t missed a beat.

Today with all of the technology, friends can stay in touch but in different ways. So yes it will be different, his entire life will be changing (no longer a student), but our lives change constantly.

4 Likes

In case you need a moment of levity…my H is back with his crew, who after decades of being scattered, have all landed back in their city of origin. They meet every week, in the same dude’s basement, to play D&D now that the collective “spawn crew” is grown/independent. My Ds find it hilarious that while they are hanging in their gang’s “basement”, so too is their father.

17 Likes

So the son in question just woke up and told me him and his “boys” are going to the gym to lift together “one last time”. Perhaps I misspoke when I said he isn’t prone to drama😀

Thanks for the perspective!!

18 Likes

I’m in my 50s and still am tight with my kindergarten friends. We do girls trip together, zoom call every other week, text nearly daily, etc…. Different when we were kids but still the go to friends.

2 Likes

My 23 year old was just out with his HS friends last night (one of whom is my husband’s childhood best friend’s son, unfortunately my husband’s friend passed this last spring but friends until the end). My 25 year old daughter was skiing with her HS friends last weekend. I text 5 my of my HS friends every day in a text group. My younger kids are so close with their HS friends I can’t imagine it will end after college, and they all attend different schools. My husband has band practice tonight with his HS band. Old friends, especially friendships that started very early, are family.

6 Likes

my older two kids (grad school and working) each have one high school friend they are in touch with.

My S20 -school OOS – still gets together every break/summer etc with HS friends. I counted 10 different buddies here over the break. Each kid is different.

catcherinthetoast - i guess i want to say it’s a blessing and a wonderful thing your son has had these friendships and makes many friends. while it might change, i think they will be a part of his life and that its probably not really over. :slight_smile:

3 Likes

If it’s any consolation, this is a very typically Gen Z approach to childhood and childhood friends. They’re the most practical people to come along in a century, if you ask me, and I watched my D detach from her high school friends as college approached. She knew that they’d been friends largely out of convenience and proximity, even if it had been since kindergarten and before, and that while she had lots of fun with them, they were already growing apart in their interests. She expected to meet longer-term friends in college. She doesn’t expect to live here after college or that she and they would have much to say to each other as they grew further and further apart, so she just didn’t see the point in investing deeply in the relationships.

I saw the same sort of thing a few years earlier among undergrad women – so many just haven’t been interested in boyfriends because they don’t see the point of dating seriously in college. They’re just going to go separate ways as soon as college is over and they find jobs. And given what college costs, they’re fine with focusing on school, career, and friends rather than anything serious with a partner.

2 Likes

We just had our youngest’s (26) best friend over to play Terraforming Mars a couple of days ago - with S, DIL, and us two parents. It was a lot of fun and was the first time we old fogies were insiders with him (have been with S’s other friends). I had to tell the friend not to call me Mrs. Creekland though! He’d been one of my student’s in school, so I imagine the name change could have been awkward on his end.

Since our two are heading to Puerto Rico soon (moving), the friend and I swapped phone numbers so he can continue to be one of our game playing buddies in the future - possibly with other friends.

Life changes, for sure. All the toys from youth are packed away or gone (similar to Toy Story), but having adult kids to have fun and interact with also brings its own treasures.

6 Likes

I don’t share the cynicism you seem to be expressing in the sharing of your daughter’s experience. I sincerely hope she is happy!!

My son’s relationships have hardly been convenient. Often to the contrary as they have survived and strengthened in spite of the tragic death of a friend, one kid going through some very tough family issues and one kid moving away and returning. In addition my kid opted to go to a prep school an hour away from our home so proximity wasn’t a driver of their continued friendship.

All the challenges and obstacles actually seemed to fortify their commitment to always be there for one another.

I am reluctant to categorize them as “typical” or “atypical” Gen Z kids as it diminishes by generalization.

The points I was attempting to make (to the extent a point exists) is that:

  1. It all goes by to fast and sneaks up on you abruptly

  2. I am glad my kids have these relationships but also thrilled that they value and appreciate them.

  3. As a parent it saddens me to see it change but accepting of it because it is somehow what you hoped for.

15 Likes

You paint an awesome picture!! Thanks.

1 Like

So true - and that part doesn’t change… I definitely feel sad as each milestone passes - except for the part about paying tuition.

Enjoy the moment (whichever moment it is), give hugs not rebukes, and keep making good memories. Life is short and one never knows what lies ahead.

ps I wish I would always follow my advice.

2 Likes

Ah yes. My youngest is much like this. In small cities/towns, the friends you have from kindergarten often stay together the whole way through. And it’s not just the kids who are tight, but the parents too. We all grew up together (as young adults to middle aged) as well. I distinctly remember at a soccer game one of the mom’s saying “this is our last time together at (home field).” It was a kick in the gut.

I think that’s why I had much more trouble with high school graduation vs college. Watching all of those kids cross the stage. They were all mine. I coached many of them for years. I know all of their birthdays. We went to swim meets, soccer games, birthday parties, easter egg hunts, class field trips, etc. And after that, they were all going their separate ways. yes, they come home at college and hang out together at breaks, and they even visit each other at their respective schools sometimes. But, it’s not the same. And it will be even less so as they age. Where did the time go.

Now my eldest is a big different. He trends toward 1-2 very close friends, though he gets along with anyone. His 1-2 friends changed over the years. One in particular, they lost touch when they went to different high schools. But now they live in the same city and have reconnected. They hang out together all of the time. It’s great.

I often tell my kids that we may not live in the best place. It’s definitely not the most wealthy, has plenty of serious issues, but there are so many golden people here. I feel so lucky that they were able to have their friends and their families. I would trust them with my kids’ lives.

4 Likes

Oh yes, very much so. She’s much happier in college than she was in high school. And I don’t think she regarded the view as cynical at all: these are the kids who were here, they spent a good bit of life together, but she was right, it wasn’t as though she was going to have conversations with most of them about things she actually cared a lot about past sixth or seventh grade. They just had fun hanging out, but some part of her was already bored and pulling away. In college she’s started to meet people more like the friends she’d hoped she’d have, and my guess is it’ll be a while before she finds her really close friends.

A thing she noticed pretty early on was that her friends from a neighborhood near her elementary school – a pretty wealthy neighborhood, big houses anyway – all stuck together, all had moms who were friends together, all had family nearby. The kids’ main ambitions were pretty local, and she must’ve been in 9th grade or so when she realized that they were serious, that college wasn’t going to be so much a launch for them but a fun interlude before having big weddings and settling down together again in a neighborhood much like the one they’d grown up in, and repeating the cycle, with conversation that continued in the fun/neighborhood-chatter vein, but not really about much, at least not about the things she cared about. Even if she’d grown up in that sort of thing, she figured, she couldn’t see living like that. She’s more like her immigrant friends, whose parents landed here and are now pushing them on, no knowing where in the world they’ll go and what the adventures will be. Some are here for college; others have left the state or country.

As for the young women and their “nah” about relationships – they didn’t sound cynical either. Just grown. They’re busy, they have things they want, and they have no intention of trailing along after a boy’s career. They figure all that can come later. If they feel like it and someone more grown than the college boys comes along. But then a lot of them have choice words about their very normal-sounding dads. :grin:

2 Likes

Every kid is different, my daughter didn’t find her tribe until college. These friends I believe will be her life long ones (not the ones from elementary through high school). This has already held true with her being out of college for almost 6 years already (yes that time did fly by). Even with some of them moving to different locations they remain tight and see each other (virtually if need be) very frequently.
My social circle during her school years did center around her friend’s parents. Once she went off to college, my daughter and I both realized that we had very little in common with these families. It was easy to move past them.

3 Likes

:smiley: oh man, we went through this. For the first few years of school, anyway. Painful all around – those moms and I had just about zero in common. I was usually fine talking with their husbands, but they weren’t fine with me talking to their husbands.

Fortunately, as a minivanless single mom I didn’t have much time for the mad PTO whirl, so it was nbd. There was one mom I really liked a lot, very very funny woman and just immaculate, like I don’t know how someone presents that way day and night, but man, she was wack. She was a faculty member, climbed the ladder hard and soooper-cynically, and is now a dean somewhere else, aimed to be a president of a Christian college someday. I’ve no doubt it’ll be happening soon. Had a husband she toted along like a sack of potatoes and some very adorable children. eta: ha, already on her way; she’s provost now, I’m out of date already.

1 Like