Thankfully, I was fast asleep when the call came at 10:30, “Mom, I’ve had a little incident.” Even half-conscious, I registered that her voice sounded strong and okay, and before I had a chance to fully wake up, I learned that she had sprained her ankle while jogging. So I knew the deal before my imagination had a chance to run wild through all the possible catastrophes and tragedies that could have occurred. As someone who has worked on college campuses for 35 years, especially in the dormitories, I am very acutely aware of the range of possibilities.
Which is not to say that being on crutches is ideal on a campus that stretches for blocks, in a dorm room on the 4th floor, or as a leader of the campus African Dance troupe. Nor is it great to have an accident the night before the first day of classes.
So what is my role as a parent? In my job, I sometimes get calls from parents, worried about their child’s prospects for medical or law school. I can hear the panic in their voices, as they try to sound upbeat and relaxed and reasonable. Even though my students are all adults and I can’t divulge any information without their permission, I try to be as helpful and comforting as I can be. I don’t begrudge them making the phone call, or sneer at them as helicopter parents. I know what it’s like to be nervous, my pretty much permanent state.
Thankfully, my daughter will be fine. Grumpy, but fine. And my only job is to bake brownies for her to share with the friends who are waiting on her, hand and foot.