To Nervous Parents, College Seems Like a Teenage ‘Temptation Island’


My sweet baboo Elizabeth is going away to college next fall, and her high school recently held a meeting for seniors and their parents. Its purpose was to smooth out the kids’ transition from living at home with Mom and Dad to living at college.

I went to college in the ‘60s, and looking back, I wish someone had given me advice on critical college issues such as how to take care of money, how to budget my time and how to keep a hash pipe lit. (Whoa! Nothing like that ever happened to me. If you’re reading this, Elizabeth, I was in the library.)

The meeting featured a psychologist, who told parents: Give your kids freedom in their senior year. That way, if they make mistakes, you can help them through the rough spots--because next year, you won’t be around to help.


I couldn’t attend the meeting myself. But my peeps were there. They brought back the psychologist’s specific recommendations:

1. Stop waking your child up in the morning.

2. Give your child a credit card.

3. Don’t give them a curfew.

The next morning, I tried not waking my child. Here’s what happened: She slept until 5 p.m. She missed school altogether. I asked her why she bothered to get up at 5. She said she didn’t want to miss dinner. If I don’t wake my daughter up, she will sleep through college.

And I shouldn’t give her a curfew? She can’t wake up in the morning now. What if she can straggle in at dawn? I don’t care if there’s no curfew in college next year. Next year, I won’t be waiting up for her, pacing, wondering what sort of deadbeat she’s out with. The curfew isn’t for her. It’s for me. I want to get some sleep.

And, come on, “give her a credit card”? For her to get a credit card, I have to co-sign. I’m obliged to pay off her charges. Do you have any idea what kind of bill an 18-year-old girl can run up? Her hair products alone cost more than a pardon for a millionaire fugitive.

The psychologist says: Your kids are going to be independent next fall anyway, so let them start experimenting now. By that logic, why not let the kid sitting in 22 B fly the plane? I mean, he wants to be a pilot someday.

Does it ever occur to psychologists that the reason we are paying through the nose to send our kids to some distant campus is so that when they do “a keg stand”--(where you place your lips over the nozzle of a keg of beer, and a few of your pals lift you up and hold you upside-down by your ankles, then open the tap, ka-blooey!) it won’t be our carpets they barf on?


Finally, everyone was asked to write down the best and worst aspects about kids going to college. Parents expressed sadness at setting one fewer plate at dinner. (My reaction: Some families have dinner together?)

The kids’ main anxiety was drawing a loser roommate; you know, someone who might study. But they were overjoyed at the prospect of having sex, drugs and alcohol whenever they wanted. Obviously, I was thrilled to hear that. Who wouldn’t want to cough up $30,000 a year in tuition so their child could go to “Temptation Island”?

Parents and children were also asked what their farewell words would be. The parents revealed deep emotion: “We love you. We’ll miss you. We have faith in you.” Even the parent who wrote, “Don’t flunk out, dear; that’s what your brother did, and now he’s working at Jiffy Lube,” clearly meant it with great affection.

The kids saw the farewell as an opportunity to get something off their chests, then disappear for four months. My favorites: “That money you had stashed in a shoe box in the closet? I hope you weren’t saving it for like a kidney operation or something.” “In retrospect, I may not have told the complete truth about her parents being home.”

Then there was this: “Don’t worry, Dad. I won’t get a tattoo. At least not first semester.”

Ah, I’d recognize my child anywhere.