Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Are we there yet?

I am so ready for summer to be over.

Which is a surprise, since it also pretty much means my year of no work at full pay is pretty much over too. But as I start to both ponder and prepare for another career (I am studying for one, but still holding out hope for contract work with another), I am thinking that this last month of summer has been anything but the hazy, lazy dog days. It's actually been a trip. Or two.

College tour time has started for Earbaby and us. There seems to be a lot to figure out as this rising senior starts her search for where she will spend her next four years. She signed herself up for a tour of Syracuse right before she left school for the summer, so we found a couple of colleges out that way that we could also visit. She unequivocally expressed no interest in attending, or even visiting the school her incredibly cute boyfriend will be attending. In fact, we drove through the campus (it was on the way) and she wouldn't even get out of the car. She emphatically said she was not interested in going to school in Massachusetts, or even New England.

But upstate New York was a possibility. Our first stop was Union, a small college with an idyllic campus and a student body not much bigger than the high school EB is attending. It's also expensive and extremely competitive to get into. And EB liked it. Our campus tour guide talked glowingly about all the possibilities for study, combining majors and minors for unique programs tailored to the student's needs, research and opportunities to study abroad, etc. EB continues to surprise us. She was quiet during the tour, but whispered to her dad, "I like it here." We talked later, and I said she should be able to picture herself on a campus. She said she could, although the price tag was a little sticker shock for her.

Our next visit was to Ithaca, another nice campus, with lots of opportunities, but EB wasn't feeling it. No matter. Sometimes knowing what you don't want is just as important as knowing what you do. She also wasn't feeling the vibe at Syracuse. We had a more expansive college tour, with lunch, a presentation in a too-warm auditorium (it was August after all), more talks and presentations depending on the college of your interest, a walking tour of the campus with a tour guide who talked way too fast, and options of talking to financial aid advisers. But there was no need -- EB couldn't picture herself going there. We grabbed some smoothies and went back to our hotel room.

We would have liked to have more time to look at more schools. EB's dad devised a spreadsheet of a few that might hold her interest, and she promptly added a few schools on the Left Coast. There's no chance we're going to visit any of those. We have one more tour booked. We're going to my alma mater, Kansas State, for a fall weekend. Now while I would love for her to be a Wildcat legacy, I would love it even more if she found just the school that suits her. I've repeatedly said that I've had my college experience, she should have her own. While I'm excited to go back to a state I haven't visited in more than three decades, I am looking at it more as the chance for her to take a look at a bigger campus. She knows what city universities look like, having grown up and traveled along routes that take her to Boston University, Northeastern, and marginally, Boston College. She knows she doesn't want to go here. Getting a look at a Division I school in a bona fide college town will give her a different prospective.

But I'm ready for EB to get cracking on her last year of high school. As usual she has had summer reading, which she has waited until the last minute to begin. And I refuse to stress about it any more. She already knows she will have a challenging final year. She decided to take two AP courses, will be dancing at two studios again, will be babysitting regularly and cheerleading again is in the mix.

And in the midst of all this is EB's hankering for her license. She still has one more class to make up, but she is almost through with her 40 hours of parent-supervised driving. She has gone from a Nervous Nelly behind the wheel to a pretty confident and observant driver. She is constantly questioning signage and signals and has gone from being a zoned-out passenger with earbuds practically surgically implanted, to watching every step of the whole process. Although she still worries about parallel parking and is too much of a weenie to back up our narrow driveway, she has come a long way in a relatively short time. I'm no longer stepping on the imaginary brake or giving her multiple instructions about the obvious. By the time she takes her test for her license, I have no doubt she will be more than ready.

This is going to be our last year with Earbaby home full-time. By this time next year, God willing, we will be empty-nesters and she will be off somewhere starting a new journey without us.

I must remember to cherish this last year of high school with her. We're not there yet, but we're heading into the homestretch.

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