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Backstory: How to survive your child's freshman year in college

Pointers on how to stay in touch with your children when they go away to college, including the old phone call trick: Did you get the check I sent?

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When i dropped my son off at college his freshman year, I decided not to embarrass him by tearfully saying my goodbyes in his dorm room. Instead, I left a heart-tugging letter that expressed, page after page, my love and pride. Three weeks later he sent an e-mail: "Finally read your letter. It was very long."

When I emerged from an abbreviated period of intense contemplation, three years later, I realized I was not unique. Parents write checks with endless zeros and go through similar traumas all over the country. For those needy fathers and mothers, I have put together a brief list on How To Survive Your Child's Freshman Year In College. Read it and try not to weep.

Do not look at your phone.

They won't call. Trust me, they won't. No matter how often you glance at the phone in the kitchen, no matter how many times you take the cellphone out of your pocket, it will not ring. And climbing telephone poles to check if your lines are working doesn't usually result in anything but splinters.

You can always call the noncalling child using a variety of excuses: "I pressed your button(s) on speed dial by mistake." "Did you get the check I sent?" "Did you get the other check I sent?" Or, when really desperate, "Can I send you a check?"

While the last excuse often brings a response ("yes"), the others usually result in "can't talk, gotta run." Don't ask "where to?" You might find out.

Watch college sports on TV.

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