Acceptance Letters: Parents, college and letting go

One, Two, and One Again: Siblings at Kenyon

Elizabeth Weinstein
April 15, 2015

It’s very handy having our two children at the same college. We drive seven hours to drop them off and pick them up — it being expensive and inconvenient to get to Gambier from Central New York State by any other method — and I shudder to think what it would be like if his winter break started a week later than hers and was in the opposite direction.

Our daughter chose Kenyon almost in spite of its being small and in a town even smaller than the one we live in. We fully expected her to accept the offer of a university in a large city. But when she visited Kenyon, she loved it and saw herself there. Our son chose Kenyon over a couple of schools similar in size and type, but Kenyon had an edge I think he liked: The students and the college’s offerings seemed to hold out a promise of sophistication and complexity. My husband and I have watched with interest as they’ve chosen different professors, different friends, different paths down which “the Kenyon experience” is taking them. For us, not having a horse in the race, it’s cozy to hear them chatting amiably about both the concrete and the intangible landmarks of these four years.

And now the elder is graduating. Just as she has been doing all of our son’s life, she is moving on just ahead of him, further into her own life and further out of his.  I don’t want to over-emotionalize this, for Heaven’s sake. They’re siblings, not spouses, not business partners. They will have each other for life, whether they want to or not. They have a bond my husband and I are proud of even when we can’t see inside it or share the quick connections that young adult brains make.  But it’s easy for me to remember him in fifth grade, when she suddenly had more to do than play outside with her little brother. He is stronger than he was in fifth grade, but I’ll bet there is just a twinge of that same disappointment — a flash of grief, even, that came with the ten-year-old’s realization that he had to walk alone.

As we all do, of course. But our son has two years left of Kenyon life — his studies, his job, the campus activities he chooses. His sister is breaking out into a bigger world, but she may even be a bit jealous that he gets to stay behind.