In the fall of 1989, I spent countless hours walking around my neighborhood in Brookfield, Conn., holding Sam, my newborn son. We owned a stroller, but I didn’t want to put him in it. I wanted him as close to me as possible.

The fact that Sam would someday head off to college seemed impossible—or at least way off in some distant future that I didn’t need to worry about.

On Sunday, Sam will leave for his junior year at Kenyon College in Ohio.

When I first met my stepson, Alex, he was 11 years old and in fifth-grade. He was a sweet, innocent kid. (At 18, he’s still sweet.) Yesterday, my wife, Susan, and Alex started the long drive to Gainesville, Fla., where Alex will be a freshman at the University of Florida. I fly down to meet them today.

Saying goodbye to a child who is going to college is never easy. When I dropped Sam off for his freshman year at Kenyon, I managed to hold it together until he walked me to my rental car to say goodbye. It was a long ride back to the airport and flight home.

Susan has been dreading this coming week for the seven years that I’ve known her. Alex, like Sam, is a huge presence in our home and our lives.

Some people handle the final goodbye better than others. And sometimes the son or daughter makes it easier. This past week a friend of Alex’s hugged his mother goodbye and said, “Mom, it’s time for you to spread your wings.”


Please post your stories about dropping a child off at college and the aftermath. Misery loves company.