Back to School (8/24/05)

Dear Zelda,

My daughter is going off to college the beginning of September and my husband and I will be empty nesters.  I’m going to miss her presence and the constant flow of her friends coming in and out of our house. My stomach aches every time I think about her leaving. I keep a smile on my face but inside my heart is breaking. What do I do to ease the pain?

Empty Nester

Dear Empty Nester-

What a wonderful thing to be able to send your daughter off to college, where she will broaden her horizons, develop her own ideas and identity, and continue her journey into the world of adulthood. New friends to make, new places to see, and new stories to tell when she comes home. Of course, these departures can cause real "heart break" for the parents, but in addition, they’re also a chance for a long-overdue and well-deserved "KID BREAK!"

You've spent your last eighteen years preparing for this day, yet no amount of studying, cramming, or testing could have prepared you. So stop and take a deep breath. Let’s put a whole different spin on this daughter-leaving business. It's obvious you love her, but the day has come: it's time to push her from the nest.  You’ve given her wings. Now let her fly. Your mother had to do it, and her mother before that. No one said it would be easy, but this is the natural cycle of things. We give birth, we raise, we release. She is not the only one taking flight, you are too! Remember, also, that it's important to be strong. Whether she tells you or not, she's counting on it, and whether she shows it or not, it’s a hard separation for her too. It will be easier on both of you if you can put on a brave face for her; let her know that you will miss her greatly, but try not to burden her with your own separation woes in this time of great change.

Now, to ease the pain....hmmmmmmm....let me think here. I can only come up with about 500 THINGS you can do to ease the pain. Start by sitting down and making a list of the things you've wanted to do, but couldn't because you were busy playing "soccer mom," or "mom taxi," or better yet... "mom the maid." Throw some pots, join a book club, or learn a new language. I'm not talking about trying to replace her, not by a long shot. All I'm saying is think of this as your next "major" in the college of life. And the great thing is, this time you get to take all fun classes!  You can do this. And with today’s technology, you are only a cell call, text message, or email away from your daughter. How easy is that?

Turn that empty nest into a launching pad!


Dear Zelda,

Hey Zelda, I love your pictures for a start. But anyway, I'm starting my GCSE's in September, and I chose French, but I don't think I want to do it anymore! My problem is I don't know if it would be too awkward to change now, but I really want to. What is the best option? Please help me with your doggy brains!

Barking Mad

Dear Barking Mad-

Sorry to hear of your floating dilemma in the international waters of decision-making, but, congrats on sticking to your studies! Très bon! (For those Zelda readers on this side of the Atlantic, the GCSE’s are subject-specific exams given in Britain.)

I know exactly what you're going through. I have this smart little black beret that was given to me as a gift and I've been wondering: are berets still in style and do they go with anything? (Okay, okay, not quite the same thing but, I do know all about being puzzled.) Anyway, my advice goes like this:

Change your mind. (Yes, it's that easy.)

You're in the beginning stages of what will most likely end up as a 40+ hour-a-week, two-weeks-paid-vacation-plus-holiday, drive-in-the-carpool-lane career. The road is long, and now is the time in life when you are SUPPOSED to be figuring all these things out. At some point you have to ask yourself: who decides your future? (YOU.) who decides your destiny? (YOU.) Onion rings or FRENCH fries? (YOU get to choose.) That’s the beauty, and the challenge, of making up your own mind. Start by digging deep and truly feeling in your heart of hearts what is the right next step for you. Weigh out the options both good and bad, and when all is said and done, I think you'll find it was as easy as FRENCH toast!  Try to remember that at one point, your parents and teachers were in your exact same spot: very young and still quite unsure of themselves. But, make no mistake, they will understand and, in turn, most likely commend you on making the right choice, even if it’s not the easy choice (a very “adult” thing to do).

Comprendez-vous?...I know you do!


Dear Zelda,

hi zelda, i love your web site but im 10 and i would like more games if you could like bulldog games also how old is zelda she looks 2 years old!!!! my dog gertie loves you!!! shes a bullie too! also im kinda nurvuse about going into 5th grade what should i do?

love xoxoxoxoxoxoxo bri and gertie

Dear Bri and Gertie-

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for those kind and thoughtful words. As for my age, I am young enough to run around crazy with excitement, but old enough to know better!

Now about this business of being nervous before starting the 5th grade. Just so you know, this is a very normal thing for anyone your age who is about to start a new school year. I promise that everyone else in your class will be just as nervous as you on the first day. The nice thing is, each year it gets a little bit easier, because you know your friends will be there, and you will have done it so many times before. Heck, I'd even bet by the time you hit the 6th grade, you won't be nervous at all, you'll be DOG-GONE excited!

Just in case though, I do have an old-dog trick I can teach you that might help to calm down your nerves a bit. Start off by asking Mom or Dad to help you find your favorite photo of you and Gertie. One that makes you smile, giggle, or just plain laugh out loud. Once you've found it, take the photo and put it in a little frame that you can keep in your backpack (make sure there's no glass in the frame in case it breaks). Don't forget to make one for Gertie too! When you start to feel lonely, sad, or just needing to smile for a while, you can pull out your picture and remind yourself that ol' Gertie is at home, probably doing the same thing you are and looking at her picture too! How cool is that? You might even find it to be a great ice-breaker when making new friends, who share your love for us bullies.

Good Luck to you and Gertie, and big licks to an A+ year of 5th grade!


P.S. I've passed the request for more games along to Team Zelda, so they can come up with some crazy fun for everyone!