My youngest bounded off to college last week, headed for another time zone, and my oldest was not far behind, making his own move to campus.

My wife and I suddenly found ourselves all alone with the family labrador, wondering where the time went.

I’ve read a lot recently about the plague of helicopter parents that insist on remaining involved in their kids lives, even when the children head off as adults to the august halls of higher learning. Invariably, such stories include anecdotes about overbearing moms and dads who cross the line, prompting the rest of us to shake our heads at a generation that just won’t let go.

Except the world doesn’t make clean breaks easy.

Ever since my youngest was accepted to the university of his choice, we have been bombarded with come-ons, urging us not to leave him in the lurch.

One flyer offers weekly door-to-door laundry service.

Another promises to back up his computer regularly so he doesn’t lose critical class work.

Dorms, apartments, condos all compete for his rent, each boasting amenities no self-respecting student should be without. There’s even a vendor that will supply junior with all the sheets, towels, comforters and whatnot he will need, color coordinated for one low, low price.

These retailers know their target market. Their mailings are not addressed to junior. They are addressed “To the parents ...” of junior.

And their timing is exquisite. Days before finals? You just have to send candy, or a fruit basket, or popcorn or ...

The schools, too, are there to serve. Come to our orientation. Stay at our hotel. Get your season tickets. Join our club.

Honestly, it’s enough to make you feel guilty if all you want to do is write a check for tuition.

Which of course I don’t, because, after all, junior’s worth it.