Letter to my son at boarding school

Dear Jacob,

You have been away from us for one week now, and so much has happened since you left for boarding school.  In case you were wondering…

The first few hours were brutal. As we drove home, I checked my iPhone every ten minutes.  That first night, both Dad and I kept our phones by our side and turned on all night.  We never do that.

The next morning, I put some of your clean t-shirts in your drawers and opened your curtains.  I rarely do that.  Then I just stood there, and lingered in your room.  Dad found me and understood immediately.  He asked, “Does it feel like we are giving our son a gift? It doesn’t feel that way to me.”  And then we both had a good cry.  We never do that either.

I checked my phone all day the next day.  Other people texted, emailed, and/or called, and everyone I met in those first few days asked about you.  I had to suck it up and tell them all the same thing – we haven’t heard from him.  Not a word.

Every single person said the same thing, “No news is good news.”  But you know what?  No news didn’t feel like good news.

Dad and I talked about why you weren’t contacting us – Were you too upset? Were you too busy?  Were you trying to teach us a lesson?

We also reviewed the reasons we made this decision – it was as if we needed to keep reminding ourselves.  We knew we wanted you to enjoy more time outside, more time with friends, more time blurring the lines between learning and living.  We tried to picture all of those happy confident kids we met at drop-off, and we knew that would be you one day.

Most of all, we told ourselves – over and over! – that you wanted to go to Lakefield College School.  You were ready to grow independently from us and you could learn so much from a team of passionate people who share our values and have proven to be great at cultivating healthy, happy, generous, curious people. Do you remember what you did when we first told you that you could go to LCS?  You put your head down and did that “Yes!” motion, and then you looked each of us in the eyes and said, “Thank you Mom.  Thank you Dad.”

But I missed you.  Terribly.  And I wanted you back with me.  I also wanted you to write. Or call.  Anything!

On Wednesday, one of my colleagues asked about you.  I gave the same reply, although by that point, I was starting to feel bitter and even seeing some humour in your silence.   I may have called you a brat.

She said the same no-news thing, but then she reminded me that her boys went to boarding school.  I perked up.  I realized that I was so hungry to hear the stories of other families.  Two of her comments stood out.  She told me that she looked at boarding school as a series of summer camps “…and my boys LOVED summer camp!”   You said that same thing.

She also told me that her boys – all three of them! – have recently told her that boarding school was the second best thing their parents gave to them, after giving them their love.

And that’s when it hit me – I needed to stop thinking about me, and my feelings, and my needs.  Boarding school was not about me; it was what we knew would be best for you.  Deep down I knew it all along, but my heart still ached for you.  Still does.

So it helped that you finally made contact on day six.  I will forever have those first words memorized – “I’m at Tim’s with some friends and it has free wi-fi.  Lakefield is amazing. I’m so happy I came.”

Jacob, you have no idea how much those words meant to us. I’m not even offended that you wrote them to Dad and not me.  Really.  I’m also not bothered by yesterday’s email:  Hi mom I cant talk for long but everything is great.

Don’t worry about writing more.  Dad and I are just fine.

See you in two more weeks when we come up for the Fall Fair.

Love you more more more,


p.s.  Typically I check with you before I mention you in a blog.  Guess you should have written sooner.

p.p.s.  For the record – Jacob did sign off on this…

6 thoughts on “Letter to my son at boarding school

  1. Pingback: Groceries and balloons | KeeNote

  2. I can’t believe I found this blog!! I was searching how to prepare my son for boarding school (well prepare myself is probably more like it) nd your blog came up. I didn’t realize until halfway through that this is the same boarding school where I will be dropping my son off in 42 days!!! I would love to hear more about your sons experience at lcs and yours as well. Lol. I’m sure this will be harder for me. My son is just going for grade 12. So happy I came across your blog.

    • I am so happy that you found this blog! We all love Lakefield, and the transition was easy for him. It obviously got easier for me too – we are now prepping to send our daughter for grade nine. Both kids are excited… Me? I’m finding it harder to think of life with no kids at home. But Lakefield’s teachers are amazing and we feel fortunate to have them as part of our lives. Email me and we can set up a time to connect.

  3. Really enjoyed this. Although our daughter is a day student, I understand. She is actually friends with your son. I remember the day she said she was going to Tim’s with Jacob so he could use the wifi.
    We are originally from St.Catharines.
    Maybe we will meet next weekend at the Fall Fair.
    Thanks for sharing the letter.

  4. A great letter that I could really relate to. I felt the same feelings when my son boarded for the year at Lakefield. The not texting and getting in touch feels so hurtful at the time, but why would he get in touch, he was having the time of his life and enjoying every minute. It is something he always talks about and we are so pleased we were able to give him that opportunity. We would never of changed a thing. He has grown up into a lovely young man and are very proud. Your son will love Lakefield. You are doing a great job.

  5. Wonderful Ann-Marie! I feel your pain but I comforted myself with that same reality…it’s not about me. Lakefield is the best gift we could ever have given to our children. Jacob is a lucky young man. Cheer up, mom…you’re doing the right thing 🙂

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