Friday, June 30, 2017

Friendship rings

Earbaby is all graduated. Her two maternal aunts, a cousin, a new baby cousin (the next generation!) and her 94-year-old grandma, all came to the Northeast corner of the country to celebrate the last grandchild's foray into the new world. It was a fun, momentous occasion. She was later joined by cousins, an aunt and an uncle from her dad's side for a dinner in her honor.

And now the real world beckons.

As EB prepares for this next part of her world, it's been interesting to note how she balances her old life with the impending new. She's been out of school and adrift for almost a month and a half now, sleeping late, going out with friends, spending the gifted money she's received almost faster than she gets it (a physical impossibility that still baffles me), and yet becoming more anxious, not only about the fall, but the rest of the summer.

She's got to get a job. And she's actually turned down two jobs, because she's been promised another one through the city resources. She's been through workshops, CPR training, and yet the days drag on, with no start date in sight. After several emails to the coordinator, she was told she had mandatory three-day training for 2 1/2 hours in the middle of the week she had an intensive (and expensive) dance camp. When she told the coordinator those didn't work for her, she went into panic mode, thinking she had turned down two birds in hand and would be denied the promised one in the bush.

Now that mandatory training has been moved to the first week in July, since apparently she wasn't the only one who couldn't make it. There actually are some kids who were still in school until the last week of June. This has been quite the messy process to get a summer job, that will eventually last only a little more than a month before she is off to the wheat and sunflower state.

But she has occupied her time (between sleeping and Netflix) with lots and lots of friends. It seems every day she finds a new group or friend or two to just hang out with. It doesn't hurt that she has access to a car, but at least a couple of her friends have also been willing to drive to go to the beach, or to the mall, or to just get food. I figure they are all trying to squeeze in their last summer before they scatter to the winds of college or trade school. Interestingly, many of her friends are male and all platonic. She doesn't seem interested in dating any more, and we don't even talk about it. There will be time for the warning talk before we say our goodbyes, but for now she seems much happier with herself as a single lady than she ever was as half of a dysfunctional couple. This summer is definitely a turn for the better.

But June has been quite the swoon. Three straight weekends of whirlwind activity included her final dance recital, her graduation and her college orientation.

The trip to formerly my state U, and now Her State U, was for the most part good, but where would we be without the occasional return of the snarky attitude?

EB is a small city kid. I'm snarky enough to consider our place of residence a little city, because I grew up in what was then the second (now third) largest city in the country. But she's still a city kid, and she's going to a country college town, albeit one rated one of the top college towns for satisfaction, etc. Anyway, we spent a hot weekend in the middle of the country. Her dad and I got to spend a couple of days alone tooling around the countryside, since we both like long drives. EB went to two-day summer camp on steroids.

Of course she was snarky and crabby about it, texting us to ask if we could pick her up from the dorms early (we didn't) because it was boring and a waste of her time. Then she was tired, because they never let them rest. But even though she wouldn't participate in some of the goofiness, she couldn't keep from having somewhat of a good time, despite the fact that the temperature was 90-plus degrees every day. And she did make friends. One can only keep from smiling a little for so long in the face of all that relentless cheerfulness.

But the other part of her crabbiness came from the constant contact with her friends who went to Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic the same week she had orientation with the country mice. The Snapchat stories and texts that she saw seemed as if everyone was having a much better time than she was, even with a few hiccups. (The stories ended up being a lot less fun, and a lot more dark when everyone got home, and she realized that even had we allowed her to go, her friends would have gotten on her nerves.) So EB spent way too much time comparing getting herself ready for college with the kids who work so they could go on the trip where there was drinking, drugs and sexual misconduct. After she heard the stories, she seemed to stop wishing she had gone.The reality didn't sound nearly as glamorous in the cold light of day. But she couldn't know that while she was turning her nose up, resisting the charms of the Wabash Cannonball dance.

Next month, God and the city services willing, Earbaby will have her first steady job. It will only be for the summer, but I'm hoping she will plan on saving something for college. I can't keep her in Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts for the next four years. In the meantime, she's waiting to hear from the dance department to see if she can start right away with her minor selection, since she didn't get any help in that department from the adviser who helped pick her classes in the psychology department. She was reticent about contacting the instructor we met in August, but I'm trying to make her see that she will have to advocate for herself in the coming years. We pay the bills, but we can't do everything for her anymore. Those days are over.

But it's going to take a minute before she's ready to let go.

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