Freshman Daughter, Freshman Dad

By Larry Druckenbrod

As his only child embarks on her collegiate journey, a freshman parent chronicles the experience—40 years on from his own days as a college freshman. Larry Druckenbrod is also assistant director of Career Services.

Freshman Daughter, Freshman Dad

So, my daughter, Valkyrie comes to UConn in two
weeks.  “I’m soooo excited!!!” one of us
exclaims!!  “Dad, calm down,” says the

Back in June she told me that she didn’t care who her
roommate was, and she wasn’t going to room with someone she knew from high school.  This seemed rather scary to
me.  When I went to college in 1971, my high school best friend was going to be my roommate.  I wasn’t taking any chances of rooming with some axe murderer.  Or a Red Sox fan.  I was proud of Valkyrie.  She wasn’t going to play it safe.  I was a chicken.  She is not.  A month ago she found someone on
They chatted, they met, and they just love each other.  Similar interests, nice family, not interested in wild toga parties, want to set up a study schedule and keep to it.  Well, doesn’t exactly sound like my freshman year, but it has potential.

Valkyrie and her roommate went shopping for dorm stuff
last weekend.  I’m not supposed to be using the word dorm, as it went out of the student affairs lexicon during the sixties, the Latin meaning, “a place to sleep.” We now use residence hall, as it represents a place where many parts of daily college life exist and its function is much more developmental/educational than just a place to recharge the batteries after a tough day with classes or checking Facebook.  “What did you get?” I asked.  “Oh,
some bins to organize stuff and some towels and shower stuff, and a rug, Eminem and Adele posters, and a….”  “Posters!  Oh, I have a great John Lennon poster all psychedelic and stuff…” “Dad, we’re good, we’re good.”

Valkyrie is working her last day at the sandwich shop
before heading off to college.  She has learned the importance of customer service. She smiles at each customer no matter how rude their behavior or outrageous their request.  As I did on the day she first stepped into the world of work, I’ve dropped in on her last.

She’s taking a break from visiting with me in the corner
of the shop and is taking customer orders.  A large man with large tattoos places his order.  “What can I get you?” Valkyrie says.  “I’ll take a million dollars,” says tattoo man.  Valkyrie, demonstrating her customer service skills, stands silently and smiles.  Then, she can’t resist displaying some of the skills I’ve taught her, and says, “you’ll need to move to the register for that” and grins over at me.
I now know what it must be like to work as a sky marshal.  In my mind I’m already silently moving towards him with a sandwich shop chair.  I’m aware of how close to the surface this parental protection instinct lies.   I smile back to her, but with just a bit less innocence.


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