This is What Waiting on an Early Decision Answer Feels Like

The clock ticks slowly once a senior pushes the “send” button on an early decision application. The wait is agonizing, and feels like being in a horror movie about plagues of epic misfortune.

It's hard to wait on early decision answers

Waiting. It’s all anyone’s talking about.

Acquaintances in line at the grocery store, heads tipped conspiratorially together at holiday concerts, clusters on the sidelines of sporting events, and any seasonal party attended by the frayed, exhausted, and justifiably pickled parents of high school seniors. This dead time between the chaos of the early decision application process and delivery of the defining yay or nay is dominating the tone of our holiday season, like it or not.


The manifestation of this waiting has brought about a different reference in our house. It’s not the waiting that’s killing us, it’s what our 13-year-old is calling… The Reaping. This is not a reference to the understandably appropriate definition of reaping, to cut or gather a crop. We’re talking about the bad 2007 horror movie centered around the visitation of biblical plagues on a small Louisiana town. That’s right. Plagues.

Since the pushing of the Common App send button, things have gotten downright biblical around here.

The Plague of Silence.

All conversation has ceased. Tumbleweeds of quiet roll thru our house. I’m lucky if I get a text answer to ‘What can I make you for breakfast?’ After months of detail rich discussions about college, school, dreams of the future, and the latest trending YouTube video, the radio silence emitting from his world is worse than a rain of frogs.

The Plague of Discontent.

Nothing and I mean, nothing is going to make this kid happy until this is over. We just returned from an annual Thanksgiving trip to a lush, remote Caribbean island and you’d have thought he’d had daily dental surgery. What historically has been a rejuvenating time to bond with family and friends was riddled with silence (see above) and indifference. Note to self: In four years when we go thru this again, don’t.

The Plague of Insecurity.

I’m fairly certain I’m the only one in the house suffering this particular trial. Nothing like feeling the parenting floor of the past 17 years drop right out from under your feet. I question everything. Did I teach him enough about respect, compassion and separating whites from darks? Money? Dental hygiene? Relationships? Wait! I think I’ve forgotten to reinforce good phone charger management!! Omg, I’ve only got 9 months left! I need to make more lists.

The Plague of the Object Lesson.

Always directly follows Plague of Insecurity.

The Plague of Tightrope Walking.

I feel for him. I really do. He sees everything in his world hinging on an envelope that is currently sitting on a desk in a stack of outgoing mail or in the hands of an unsuspecting mailman. I know we’ve given him the pole to help him balance and he knows well enough to use it, but the inability to call out and cheer him on at this point for fear of distracting him and knocking him off-balance is hard.

When he walks in after school, looks at me expectantly and monosyllabically asks, “Mail??” I have to walk my own tightrope and just cheerfully say, “Not yet!” Good times.

So, no locusts or frogs falling from the sky but this household will be grateful when our ecosystem returns to normal. Until then I’ll turn up the music to fill the silence, pour myself a glass of wine to calm my fears and wait for the damn mailman.


Dear Parent of Newly Admitted College Freshman 

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Teri Fallon is a librarian turned stay-at-home mom living in NY with her husband and two teenage boys. They would both appreciate it if she found something more constructive to do with her time than breathing down their necks.


About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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