So we're putting a period on another month. Without a doubt October is a time where we bump into ghosts, ghouls, creatures of the night -- and the scariest part for a student in her senior year -- the college application process.
Earbaby is ready to begin the last leg of her journey of separation from the home, friends, family and community she has known her entire life.
The process won't be easy.
The first part of the separation was the breakup between EB and her ICB. It was destined to be a heartbreaker. First loves, with their too-hot, all-encompassing intensity, always are. But this one got ugly. ICB, who wanted to hold onto EB's every waking hour, even though he was two hours away in college, became too much of a burden on her sanity, her freedom, and her wellbeing. By the time it was all over ICB had become incredibly sinister, threatening, mean, and we actually thought the authorities would have to get involved. That nuclear option so far hasn't been needed, but EB was scarred and scared by the hard lessons she had to learn.
Luckily that was offset by the reintroduction to her own school friends, ones who had disappeared during the summer of needless isolation and bad choices. Going back to school was the best remedy for a broken heart. Realizing that all the people who have betrayed her in the previous year, not only ICB, but Brenda and Maria as well, made her question her own generosity and compassion. Getting back to the people who have always loved her, helps restore her faith and confidence.
It's difficult when an only child tries to share the good fortune she was born into. She shared her home, her life and her heart with people who didn't deserve it and aren't worthy. Once again, I don't want her to grow up thinking no good deed goes unpunished, so giving to others is permanently off the table. We are helping her pick up the pieces after a long broken year. She will live, love and laugh fully again. I just hope she will be more discriminating with the next person, or people she gives her heart to. I have to teach her the red flags she refused to see and let her know that walking out of bad situations is always an option.
But the uncoupling was only part of the scary season. Another part was figuring out just what EB is looking for as a college experience. We took a trip to the Midwest to visit my alma mater over the Columbus holiday weekend, and the trip came out better than expected. My old college is a Div. 1 school in a country town that is all university, all the time. A football game in a stadium of 55,000 people, a marching band of a few hundred, a goofy fight song or two, and EB, if not completely sold on being a legacy, is at least applying as one of her "safety schools." Odder still, her dad, who is quite the East Coast snob in his own way (Don't go there, you'll become a farmer, he used to say to EB), actually came away much more impressed with the school than he would have thought. One day he took a lone drive out to the prairie and was charmed by all the acres and miles of nothingness. He's a city kid who grew up with people living on top of each other.
EB acknowledges that my state U is out of her comfort zone, but is also considering that she may need to get out of her comfort zone in order to grow. She's also considering historically black colleges and universities, a school in San Francisco and yet another in Montreal. The sky's the limit, even if the money's not.
Some of her reach schools have tuition upwards of $60,000 a year. And even though we've been diligent about saving for her college fund, that's out of our reach without financial aid. And the price of doing well with two full professional salaries last year means there may be few, if any need-based scholarships or grants available. Although since we live in such an expensive state, EB could actually pay less to go out of state, even with the added cost, than she might at some of the state schools here.
In the meantime, as we try to work our way through this baffling college process, we have her school advisor and counselor trying to convince her to apply to state schools. They would like these kids to apply to 10. With the applications costing an average of $40 a pop, that's $400, much of it wasted on schools where she has no desire or intention of going. And there would be no fee waiver for us. So I told her to hold off on applying to some of these nonstarters. See where you get in first. If you find you haven't gotten accepted at a school you could see yourself at, then apply to a state safety school with an eye toward transferring after a year. It's difficult and frustrating trying to help your child figure out what her needs are when counselors are only looking at what their experiences have been, and guiding her through the lenses of their choices.
It's all scary. EB is still dancing several days a week, cheering several days a week, babysitting as a regular gig and juggling two Advanced Placement classes and one advanced math class. Oh yes, and trying to enjoy this, her last year at the school she came into at the age of 12. She goes full out almost every single day.
This scary month is over. But the chills, thrills, and spills may have just begun.
Trick or treat.