Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sons at College

Having a son at college is a very different experience than having a daughter gone, from what I can tell. My son sends short (as in 1 sentence) emails when he needs information ("Do I have a bank statement there?") or wants money ("Would you and Dad pay the dues if I joined a dojo?") or has a problem ("Someone stole the handlebars off my bike."). Nothing chatty, nothing that tells me how things are going there, if he has made friends, what his days are like, how he likes his teachers, what he is doing. A friend with a freshman boy in Helena has the same problem: "He texted us about five words on what he did last weekend." Some days I appreciate my son's independence, other days I wish he would give me more information about his new life.

Girls are different. At least all the ones I hear about are. One mom of a girl reported, "I miss her so much, but we stay in touch. We text two or three times a day..." Two or three times a DAY? My son would refuse to answer after a day or two of that. Of course, I'm used to boys and so that seems excessive to me, too; I will probably feel differently when my daughter goes off to college. I saw this same thing at orientation in June: the boys were mostly on their own, or they were 6 steps ahead of their parents, while the girls were definitely with their parents, engaged in conversation, especially with their mothers. Boys are eager to make the break, go out on their own, while girls still want the support network as they figure things out. (Mostly, anyway.) I know some of this is cultural, but based on my four kids, I think some of it is hard-wired in them; my daughter simply communicates more than all her brothers combined, and about personal things rather than about their computer problems. It will be a very different experience when she goes off to college!

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