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送女儿上大学

Struggling to Let Go of My College-Student Daughter
送女儿上大学

When I sent my daughter, Emma, off for her freshman year of college a few years ago, I found myself overwhelmed by an incredible feeling of melancholy. I was sad down to my bones.

几年前,当我送我的女儿艾玛(Emma)去上大学的时候,我发现自己被一种可怕的伤感笼罩着。我感到了入骨的难过。

Clearly, I'm not alone. Just last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that more than 90 percent of colleges offer some sort of programming for parents of incoming freshmen - programs that barely existed on campuses 20 years ago - to help moms and dads who are "struggling with the transition." According to the article, schools are conducting special orientation seminars, appointing administrators to hold the hands of parents through the process and taking other steps to deal with what one university official described as "the most over-involved generation of all time."

显然,我不是一个特例。七月底《华尔街日报》(The Wall Street Journal)报道说,超过90%的美国大学开设了专门为大学新生家长设置的项目来帮助那些正在“转变中挣扎”的父母。而这些项目在20年前是非常罕见的。据这篇文章称,各个大学在开展一些特殊的入学培训,由专门的人员来手把手领着父母们度过这个阶段;学校还采取了一系列其他措施来应对这个被世人称为“史上最关心子女”的一代家长。
 

Indeed, this is the season when countless articles are published admonishing helicopter parents to stop hovering so much. But based on what I can tell from Emma's college schedule - as well as that of her friends at schools across the country - "helicopter children" may be more accurate.

这个时候显然是无数人发表文章劝诫“直升机家长”不要在孩子头顶盘旋个没完没了的时候。但是从艾玛和她来自全国各地的朋友们的大学日程表来看,与其说家长像直升机,不如说孩子们像直升机更贴切。

Between October recess (don't ask, I have no idea why they get time off barely a month after classes start), Thanksgiving, winter holiday, spring break and summer break, the first one out of my nest has come fluttering back home nearly every month of the year since she has been away.

从十月份的秋假算起(别问我为什么他们刚开学一个月就放假,我也不知道),到感恩节、寒假,再到春假,然后就是暑假,我的第一个离家的孩子自上大学以来几乎每个月都会拍腾着翅膀飞回巢里来。

Good friends like to joke that they see more of her now than they did when she was a senior in high school. I, for one, don't remember so much back and forth when I was an undergrad.

朋友们开玩笑说现在他们比艾玛上高三的时候见她的次数还要多。至少我是不记得我本科的时候回家有这么频繁。

In the meantime, technology keeps our children connected far more than I was with my parents in the late '70s. I used to call home once a week from a pay phone (ostensibly to say hello to my mom and dad but mostly to ask them to send me a little money). Emma calls, texts or e-mails me almost every day.

与此同时,技术的进步让我们跟孩子们的联系比我们在七十年代末上学那会跟父母的联系紧密多了。那时候我每周用公共电话给家里打一次电话(假装跟爸妈问个好,其实主要是让他们给我寄点钱)。而艾玛几乎每天都跟我打电话、发短信或者发电子邮件。

Given all this, missing Emma seems kind of absurd; I've never really gotten the chance. So why, then, have I still felt on some level that I've experienced a profound loss?

这么看,想念艾玛简直是件荒谬的事情。我根本没有机会想念她。但是为什么从某种程度上讲,我还是感到如此的失落呢?

All summer long before Emma left that first year, I cried constantly - at everything from a contestant's sob story on a stupid game show to the legitimately heart-rending moment when Andy leaves for college at the end of "Toy Story 3."

艾玛离家之前的整个夏天,我哭个没完没了。无论是一个愚蠢的游戏节目里参赛者的煽情故事,还是《玩具总动员3》(Toy Story 3)结尾安迪(Andy)离家去上大学时那个理所当然让人心酸的片段,都让我流下了眼泪。

I took Emma out for countless mother-daughter breakfasts, lunches, coffees and walks. I also uncharacteristically indulged her by buying an expensive comforter for her bed at school to make her feel cozy and comfortable, a somewhat extravagant furry hat to keep her warm and looking chic and a new Italian leather wallet to replace the $20 one she used all through high school.

我无数次带艾玛出去单独吃早饭、午饭、喝咖啡还有散步。我还一反常态地宠爱她,给她买了一床很贵的被子带去学校为了能让她感到温暖而舒服,又买了一顶挺奢侈的毛帽子让她暖和又时尚,还有一个新的意大利真皮钱包来淘汰她高中一直在用的20块钱的钱包。

At the same time, I was unusually critical. In my eyes, Emma had spent the weeks leading up to school going out with her friends too much, spending too much time at her boyfriend's house, staying out way too late, making too big a mess, not working enough and, for goodness sake, certainly not spending enough time with me!

同时,我格外的求全责备。在我看来,艾玛在开学前跟她朋友出去玩得太多了,在她的男友家待得太久,晚上回来太晚,房间太乱,学习不刻苦,关键是和我相处不多!

Although it's taken quite a while to realize what was happening, I now understand that my unhappiness and anxiety (which have abated but have not altogether disappeared) are not a reflection of how much time Emma and I spend together.

虽然过了一段时间以后我才意识到自己到底怎么了,不过我现在知道,我的不悦和焦虑(虽然有所缓解但是到现在还未完全消失)的根源并不是艾玛到底陪了我多久。

Regardless of how often she comes home, or how many times a day we chat or text, Emma is now gone in a far grander sense. She is well on the road to adulthood, and from this, she will never return.

不管她回家有多频繁,我们每天聊多少天发多少短信,从一个更广阔的概念上说,她离我而去了。她踏上了通向成人世界的道路,永不回头。

I know full well, of course, that this is completely normal. And I take pride and joy in seeing Emma make her way so confidently and capably. She is, after all, doing exactly what she is supposed to do. She's going to be just fine. I know, too, that we will always remain close.

当然,我也很清楚这是完全正常的。我因为看着艾玛如此自信而干练地成长而感到无比自豪和快乐。毕竟,她是在做她分内之事。而且她肯定能很出色。我还知道,我们永远保持亲密。

Nonetheless, Emma's going to college has signaled the passing of something that I cherished - her childhood and my relationship to her as a child - and I can't help being a little sad about that.

但无论如何,艾玛离家上大学,也意味着某些我所珍视的东西的消逝——她的童年以及我们的亲子关系。恕我无法不为这些消逝感到些许落寞。
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