Daryn Kagan: Baby bird preps to leave the nest

Greetings from a trip that has one question ringing in my brain.

“Whose idea was this, anyway?”

While you’re on a beach or a lake or enjoying a picnic in a park, Dear Reader, I’m hours from home with my daughter experiencing something they call “freshman college orientation.”

Apparently, this is now a thing.

I remember showing up at college in our prehistoric era.

A few days before classes began, bonding with new kids over a couple of dinners and choosing between a limited number course options.

You were a freshman. You took what they told you to take.

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Not now.

Not in this era of hyper-dissected, overly involved helicopter parenting.

This school Daughter has chosen is not alone.

At colleges across America, your kid and you are expected to show up midsummer for three days of seminars, parties, and course selection with more choices than a Sherwin-Williams paint store — all while navigating a teen who is bouncing between excited, terrified and numb.

“Mother, give me some space.”

“Mother, where are you going? I need you.”

“Mother, dial it down.”

“Mother, can you speak up? I can’t hear you.”

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These are but some of the conflicting messages Daughter has sent me over the last couple of days.

A text message from my college roommate interrupted this orientation roller coaster.

“Banner wildlife day in Jasper!” she shared from her getaway to the Canadian Rockies. “Spotted a pair of nesting eagles. Saw the nest with two baby eagles in it. They are so cute. Awkward. Flapping their wings. Trying to fly. Mama just flew in. Babies screamed at her wanting to be fed the fish in her beak.”

“Sounds like we’re on the same trip,” I typed back. “Many sightings of weird, exotic species: incoming college freshman.”

I realize orientation isn’t simply some overproduced mess meant to encourage helicopter parenting. This is our human version of a wildlife expedition as baby eagle gets ready to leave the nest.

Sure, Roomie is cozied up to her adorable husband in some romantic lodge while I’m sleeping in a dorm room quashing any remaining thoughts of “Wouldn’t it be great to get to go back to college?”

Roommate wiggles her toes in her fancy new hiking boots.

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I put on flip flops as to avoid skin contact with the bathroom floor.

I bet that mama eagle can relate: Babies squawking, “Watch me fly!” and “Feed me, I’m hungry!” at the same time.

“On the drive home saw another bear and a coyote!” shared in a later text about looming dangers in the woods.

“Also known as frat boys, Calculus 101, and overdrawn bank accounts in this wilderness,” I reply.

The next time we come to these college campus woods, we will leave Daughter behind. How will she do as she spreads her wings, leaves our nest? Promises to be our most thrilling and scary adventure yet.


Launching an eaglet.

A young adult.

Call the species what you what.

What a trip this is.

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