The general that heads Ricky’s college made all the parents – and the grandparents – stand for a thank-you and round of applause during the graduation ceremony last week. I liked that he acknowledged the love, emotional support and financial sacrifices we all shoveled with a coal miner’s resolve in our kids’ direction over the past four years. Heck, I’m still looking for a spool of industrial-strength thread to repair the holes in our very deep pockets. Not for certain if all college graduations have the same tradition, but they ought to consider adding it to their program. It is why I asked some of my friends if they wanted to share their college parental tips with parents of graduating high school students. Let’s face it, you might be slightly nauseous of hearing about my point of view all the time. My friend, Toni, a mom that had two children graduate from two different colleges last week – geez, I don’t know how she did it – likes to ask them the question, “How can I help?” Gets some dialogue going about what may be bothering them, but they might not think to ask. Toni also sends iTune gift cards as a little pick-me-up before finals. “I also sent my son and his roommates squishy balls. Each received a different color. I heard from my son that they all loved them. Let’s face it, there’s nothin’ like a good squishy ball fight during mid-term or final exam week to break the tension,” said Toni. When Karen’s two kids headed for the dorm, she sent along garbage bags full of socks, shampoo, toilet paper, snacks, postage stamps … well you get the picture. When they graduated to apartment living, the contents of the garbage bags changed to useful items like dishes and sheets. “I gotta tell you they loved their garbage bags more than their presents at Christmas,” Karen laughed.  Tina made a notebook with filing pockets for her son – I wish I’d thought of this one – with all his important info such as Social Security card, banking information, medical stuff, college information, etc. All the stuff is in one handy place. “At first he forgot he had the notebook and would call me. I said that I was glad to hear from him, but had he checked his notebook? After that, he was pretty much trained,” Tina snickered. My friend, Loretta, has a family custom where she makes a chocolate cake on the first day of school to encourage a lot of talk about everything that happened. “They can eat all they want while they share their day with me,” said Loretta. When her oldest went off to college, she and her husband drove her to Oklahoma and then came back to Texas. “I didn’t even think about the chocolate cake for her first day of school,” Loretta said. “Her first day ended up being a really rainy. She e-mailed me later that day. She had gotten soaked between two of her classes which made for a thoroughly soggy day. Then to top it all off, she really missed having chocolate cake. Needless to say, the next year I timed a care package with homemade brownies to get there her first day of school … and I still do that,” said Loretta. One other thing Loretta did was to make her daughter a quilt, very simple pattern with lots of color, for her dorm room and labeled it, “Sweet Dreams – Love, Mom.” “I know that she has curled up in it many times,” Loretta said. Loretta also offered one serious parenting tip. Loretta lets her children learn to take care of things themselves. “Don’t always offer to be the one to call the bursar, or whomever, to get things fixed,” mentioned Loretta. Her daughter has had to figure things out herself several times when dealing with her scholarship, and has become quite good at problem solving even when she has had to go to several offices to get whatever it was straightened out. It gives your child a sense of accomplishment, too. Personally, I loved all the college parental tips. Sitting back and listening to their wisdom gave me some time to sew that last hole in hubby’s pocket shut. Dixie Frantz is a longtime Kingwood resident and newspaper columnist since 1996. E-mail Dixie with your comments at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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