On Friday I took my daughter to college. On Sunday I left her there.
If you've ever seen the movie Big you'll remember the last scene. In it, the female lead, Susan, takes Josh, the little-boy-turned-big, back home to his real life. As Adult Josh trudges through the autumn leaves towards his house, Susan looks briefly away. When she turns back for a last look, Adult Josh has become Young Josh. He smiles and waves, then turns and runs home, calling for his family.
This weekend I experienced something like that, only in reverse. On Sunday after we went to church I took my daughter back to her dorm. We had to rush our goodbye, as it was already 11:30 and she had a required event to go to at noon. We had gotten some fast food, and she had hurriedly eaten in the car, but I had not eaten yet, so after we hugged goodbye I sat in the car a while longer, trying to stem the tears to the point I could take a few bites of my bean burrito. I watched my daughter half-walk, half-run down the sidewalk toward her dorm, but instead of seeing a college student I saw a kindergartener. Panic quickly ensued. What in the world was I doing, leaving a 5-year-old to fend for herself in college? This was all wrong! But a few minutes later it wasn't a 5-year-old who re-emerged from the dorm. It was a young woman. She briefly stopped to study her map, and I resisted the urge to jump out of the car, run down the sidewalk, and help her figure out where to go. I knew she needed to do this on her own, and more important, I knew she would be able to do this on her own.
This is the last look I had at my daughter on Sunday: my little-girl-turned-big, on her way to the rest of her life.