Tag Archives: growing up

Brackish Water

IMG_20150710_140848109Our oldest, 20 years old, is off living the college life she has dreamed about since she was a little girl.  I couldn’t be happier for, or prouder of, our young lady:  She is excelling in the classroom and representing her school on the volleyball court.  But there is one major drawback:  She is doing it all a 6+ hour drive from home.

Her sister, 17, is a high school senior.  College acceptance letters are arriving and she is swapping calls and texts with the schools’ coaches as she tries to find the right match where she will be happy on campus, in the classroom, and in the pool.  Family life is a little simpler now that she can drive herself to school and to practice.  But that means we don’t see her quite as much, and I worry about her getting from place to place safely.  Again:  pride, happiness…and a little melancholy.

Now the boy, who is 12, still counts on us to get him from place to place, to attend his events, to help with his homework.  He will be as tall as I am in the next couple of years, but clothing size aside, he is still very much a kid.  Right now, seeing how fast it has all gone by with his sisters, I am well aware that I need to savor the soccer matches, the school concerts, and the swim meets, because if I blink he will be off to college himself.

We haven’t done it all perfectly, but I believe we have done it well.  Each of them is happy; the girls have succeeded in creating options for themselves, and the boy is on a good path.  Like most kids, each has hit routine bumps along the way; but in many ways each has had the best year of his/her life over the last 12 months or so.

So if it’s ALL going well, why write about it?  Well, truth be told, while the kids seem to be on track, their parents are struggling a little with the transition in everyone’s roles within the family.  It seems all too soon that we are seeing the girls leading their own lives in important ways and our role changing from supervising to advising.  And the boy is right behind them.

Again, all too soon, the three of them will be living under other roofs, always needing us, but never in the same way as when they were little.  Right now, we are somewhere in between.  And learning to swim in this brackish water is a combination of gratifying, sad, nostalgic, and a little scary.

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Filed under Appreciation, College, Education, School, Transitions

Sand Toys

Construction Time

Construction Time

Our kids are 18, 15, and 11.  Almost every year we spend a week at the beach, and most years my sister-in-law’s family is also there, including my two nieces—now 14 and 16.  And for the last 18 years, there has been this green, vinyl drawstring bag from Benetton right there with us, a holdover from my wife’s days as a trendy teen in the ‘80s.  The bag holds the toys:  Shovels. Buckets. Rakes. Sand molds. Boats.
Though the contents have evolved over the years as new toys were added, as some disappeared into the surf or under the sand, and as others wore out and were thrown away, the Benetton bag has been a constant.  But there’s one problem:  Although no one has ever accused me of being a neat freak, sand that finds its way anywhere but actually on the beach is my proverbial kryptonite—an odd confession from a 30+ year volleyball player, I know.  Perhaps I need help—or perhaps the sand just needs to stay where it belongs.

So for years I have more or less hated that Benetton bag.  At the end of each day, someone has to carry the awkward bag full of toys that you can never get completely clean as you come off of a beach.  Then there’s always the decision:  Take the bag back to the room or leave it in the back of the van?  Either way, sand is going to wind up somewhere it has no business being.  If it gets on the floor of the condo, it will then find its way all over the unit.  If it gets on the floor of the van, traces will still be showing up months later when I am looking for the ice scraper.  It’s the Kobayashi Maru of beach vacations.
On the beach, it has been years since our now-18 year old has had any interest in playing in the sand.  Castles and canals are all in her past.  And this year, for the first time, our 15 year old and her two cousins spent all week playing in the waves and hanging out under the umbrella with books without ever touching the sand toys .  Our son is now the only one.  He once again spent hours each day on complex sand engineering and construction, drawing his grandfather, his parents, and temporary friends made on the beach  into his projects whenever he could.  I commented that if everyone worked as hard at their jobs as that boy works in the sand, we would do anything.

So on our last day at the beach, I wound up carrying the accursed green back to the van, trying not to get sand on my driving-home clothes.  But on the way across the parking lot I wondered how many more summers the boy will use them.  And I realized:  I’m going to miss that green bag.


The Green Bag of Sand Toys


Filed under Finding Peace, Transitions, Vacation & Travel

The Great College Search–Part One

Our oldest child is a junior in high school, so by this time next year we will know where she will be heading for college.  College has been a major goal since before she was born, so it’s amazing to all of us that she is so close.  But even though my wife and I are college grads, and even though I have spent 25 years as an educator, the process she is jumping into….of choosing a school, navigating admissions, applying for financial aid, and selecting the place that will be part of her identity for the rest of your life…is BIG.

A College Visit

A College Visit

Safety First.  The only limit I’ve imposed upon her search is safety:  Whether she decides to stay close to home or to move a plane ride away, to go in-state public or out-of-state private, my main concern is that she is as safe as possible on campus.  That means Google searches about crime and safety on campuses, and consideration of whether a campus is its own world or blends into a town or city.

Her Priorities.  Our daughter’s approach to the college search has been interesting–she is mostly interested in larger schools, but she is wary of colleges that she considers “party schools.”  Otherwise, her pool of schools has been relatively easy to fill, as her intended majors are offered almost everywhere, and “study abroad”–one of her plans since she was very young–has become far more common than it was when I was and undergrad in the ’80s.

College Visits.  So far we have only dabbled in college visits.  Her rigorous junior year course work and club volleyball schedule mean it is hard to take a weekend away.  But we have started to mix the volleyball tournament schedule with the college search–resulting in the surprising but definitive elimination of what had been one of her short-list schools a few weeks ago.  And summer is coming…

Admission Mystery?  Trusting in the consistent messages from college admissions staff, the keys to modern college admissions are solid test scores, good grades, and–the easiest factor to control–a RIGOROUS high school schedule.  The days of padding a GPA by taking an easier path are gone, with many colleges actually re-calculating each applicant’s GPA according to their own standards–focusing on academic classes and adding weight for honors and Advanced Placement.  But time will tell.

A City Campus

A City Campus

As we work through the next year, there will be plenty to learn about applications, financial aid, and scholarships, and our daughter will have to make a big decision.  It’s going to be an interesting year with one clear goal:  that she winds up in the right school…wherever that is.

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Filed under College, School