College Orientation


Dear Friends and Family

Well, I guess it must be time to write another story, as I am feeling a whole other side to this parenting business and want to share it with you. Today we left San Diego after Daniel spent the past two days in orientation signing up for his classes, meeting some of the other kids who will make up the Revelle class of 2002, exploring the campus and just generally getting “in the mood” for college.

First I’d like to give you a bit of background as to the way my thoughts on this whole process are spinning recently. Back in the fall, I was feeling rather blue about what was coming and all the unknowns that awaited us, and savoring what I felt at the time were the last sweet moments of childhood. At graduation I had passed that and moved on to feeling proud and happy. Well, now I feel even better. When I dropped him off Monday morning I looked at him and realized how ready he is to start his own life, and mostly felt jealous. Wished I was the one leaving for college. Hmmmmm…. Lucky kid. What a beautiful place UCSD is and what terrific weather (he said he wants to learn how to surf!). I know he will be happy here and grow and change over the next four years in ways unpredictable at this moment. What a marvelous time of life he is at. And I think, all in all, he is pretty wise for his years. I feel confident that the decisions he will make will turn out okay, maybe not perfect, but workable and doable and just absolutely fine.

And the kid I picked up the following afternoon had already met and was known by all the staff; had girls asking him for hugs goodbye; had charmed one of the faculty into fixing his schedule for him; and had made a number of promising acquaintances; as well as having a fairly good feel for the layout of the sprawling campus. Not too shabby for a day and a half.

And how, might you ask, has Sara reacted to all of this? Well, its been interesting, and I do not know for sure how much is her impending sixteenth birthday, how much is her fathers absence, and how much is her anxiety related to the changes that Daniel’s departure will bring to her life. Basically, she has become a moody and demanding girl who tries very hard to test the patience of all around her (read: her mother), by various methodologies known well to all who have ever had or been a teenaged girl.

In an attempt to keep my patience, I have tried to keep in mind all the things which are confusing her, including those wild hormones that are just about at flipout stage. However, more than once in the past weeks she has brought me to the point where I simply cannot bear one more moody second. At those moments I have tried to walk away and get some space so that I am not drawn any further into her little net. Mostly it works, although the close quarters and nonstop connection of travelling doesn’t help. The interesting part happened while Daniel was at orientation.

I decided to play with her to make her have fun and change her mood to hyper silly, which would be better. For a whole day I played with her, made her laugh, drove around, got lost, got more lost, got found, took pictures, and generally was totally silly. She came around and by evening was my sweet girl with a ready smile. Everything was fine till we picked up Daniel and started to walk around campus. Within ten minutes the grinch had returned. UGH! After all that, it became clear that the problem, or at least part of it, was certainly revolving around Daniel.

So I decided that the only thing left to do was try to put a different spin on their current relationship, which of late has been rather fatherly from Daniel, which Sara, with reason, resents. So we got silly instead. In the car I put on all the tapes which Daniel most dislikes (yuk from the 60’s and disco music), and the result was Sara singing in a high falsetto, Daniel singing in a bass lower than the very lowest “rolling on the river” in Proud Mary, and me keeping time by “car dancing” and “steering wheel drumming” punctuated by Saturday Night Fever finger pointing, while we drove through miles and miles of traffic up the 405. Finally, everybody burst out laughing, and I was reminded of how they used to be when they were little and we would go on car trips and we used to sing along to Raffi tapes. My very favorite was the out of tune out of sync variations on a theme for “down by the bay” – we would make up verse after verse of “did you ever see a blank, blanking the blank, down by the bay. We would take turns and they would go on for hours, daniel making up something new each time, and Sara saying the same thing with variations. For example, if Daniel said “horse”, Sara would say “horsies”. This would frustrate him no end, and he spent countless hours trying to explain to her that she needed her own concept. She would look at him, nod solemnly, and continue on with her copycatting. It was always too too funny.

At any rate, the traffic finally got to me so we stopped for gas and dinner. At the gas station in Costa Mesa, I tried to ask where a good place to eat was. The help there kept asking “Burger King?” “McDonalds?” so I decided I was barking up the wrong tree and just left in search of a restaurant. Ended up at Planet Hollyweird. The kids were pleased, as I have never taken them there (big deal). The two of them were already silly, and started in to make me laugh. The deal is they get me so I cannot stop laughing, and the tears start to fall and I am seized with uncontrollable shaking (but quiet) laughter. They find this humorous to do in public places. When they realize they have succeeded in starting it, Sara always makes somber comments – “uh oh, Daniel, now look what you have done! Now Mom is going to cry” and they start getting weirder. Usually by the time I am unable to breathe they let up on me a little. So I sit in the middle of the restaurant, shaking and they pretend they don’t know me, and make even stranger comments. Which is even funnier. I will miss these silly times, and will have to plan to come down to San Diego often to get in my fair share dosage of Vitamin L.

I have promised Daniel that I will embarrass him by getting very close to all his college friends and sharing aspects of his life that he would rather not have shared. I once embarrassed him so well that all I ever have to do is threaten to embarrass him, and he knows that in the race for knowing how to embarrass someone, I WIN. Little stinker. Ha ha.

Anyway, I think I am ready to have an adult. He is a fine young man and I like the person that he is. I will relinquish the little bit of control I still hold and let him off to fly. First act on that is to allow him the house to himself for a week. I will close my eyes and it will pass. I will remember to breathe SLOWLY, in and out, and hope for the best. It’s the only way.

I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to help mold these intricate and exquisite human beings. I love them more than I could ever express in words.

I guess this is the plus side of the accumulated birthdays.

Love and kisses to one and all


PS – Eye surgery date is still not set. Will advise.