Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pick Me. Choose Me. Love Me.

What you’re looking at is one day’s mail for an average high school sophomore. I think there were 17 schools that were parading their wares in front of her that day. We have a drawer-full of similar mail that continues to come in daily.

Let me repeat – she’s a sophomore. A nice girl, with pretty good grades. But she knows about as much about what she wants to major in for college as she does about how to run the washing machine.
She checked "music" as a possible major on her PSAT tests and so now she is being courted by a host of venerable institutions that would impress even Yo-Yo Ma. That's great, but she's more American Idol and less Yo-Yo.

Still, they’re out there, bidding for her attention. She just turned 16. She drives, but has not yet filled up the gas tank without me to guide her. Thinks she knows everything, but deep down, understands she hasn’t yet touched the tip of the iceberg of life.

How the hell is she supposed to pick a college?

They’re creative, these colleges. Some send pretty envelopes. Some send folksy, homespun letters. Some try and dazzle her with promises of doting professors and rock-climbing walls (seriously) and stunning campuses that I’d like to live on. Each one wants her to believe that when she gets there, she’ll be special.

I’m her mother. I know she’s special, but the reality is, once she’s a freshman on one of these campuses, she’s just another number. Special only in that she will have a unique student number to which they will attribute various and sundry fees and services for which we will pay a pretty penny.

I come from a generation whose parents commonly didn’t go to college. They were clueless in how to advise us. We had a choice of one, maybe two schools.

Today these kids are blitzed with choices when they are not even halfway through high school. They’re asked to make decisions, BIG decisions, which will result in life-changing consequences. Honestly, no matter how informed you are, it’s a crap shoot, at best.

We’ve been through this lottery once. It ended differently than we expected, but for the best. Our son is at a great place for him. Could it be that luck will strike us twice? I can only hope.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sweet Before Sixteen

Quite a pair we were this weekend – you and I. It wasn’t at all what we had planned. You were supposed to be traveling with your girlfriends in Minneapolis on a choir trip. I was supposed to be hanging out in Vegas with Dad, relaxing with a cool drink and a book.

Instead, we were stuck at home, rendered useless by the stomach flu. When we weren’t in the bathroom, we were sprawled out on the couch watching below average movies with below average expectations.

I’m certain that, for you, it will go down as one of your least favorite weekends. For me, it turned out to be kind of nice.

No, I have not become an influenza enthusiast. It’s just that at this time of our relationship, when you’re chomping at the bit to get away, I had you to myself for three inglorious days.

Because you were a victim of circumstance, your friends largely left you alone. Lucky me. For a few days, you hung out with me. I tried valiantly not to annoy you. You tried valiantly not to remember that I was annoying. For about 72 hours, your teen angst and attitude was missing in action. For me – jackpot.

Yesterday, finally feeling on the mend, we went to a movie. I tried hard to remember how you hate it when I whisper snarky comments during films. But at some point, you allowed it and we giggled a bit. At that moment, I could almost see a bright future between us when someday we could be friends.

And after the movie, when your friends finally acknowledged your existence and invited you to a gathering far away, I instead encouraged you to invite them to our house so you could reconnect and feel like a teen again. It was nice to hear young voices bouncing off the basement walls.

Today, we’re getting back to our routine. You’re off with your friends and I’m hanging with the laundry. That’s OK. I’ll always have this weekend.

Oh and one more thing: Happy Sweet Sixteen. I love you.