The Beautiful Daughter

A man and a woman performing a modern dance.

She lies on her bed, my seventeen year old daughter with her long curly blonde hair swept up into a messy top bun that looks exquisite. She has headphones plugged into her computer listening to music, she instant messages friends on her red phone and does her homework simultaneously.  She doesn’t know I am looking at her and I hide the tears that start rolling down my face. She is a senior in high school; her criteria for looking for a college is for it to be “far and pretty” emphasis on far.

I’ve been through the college admissions process last year with her older brother. But, this child, this girl, is my baby, the one that clung to me like a little a warm nesting animal burrowed in my neck. This was the child who only wanted me and I was always there for her, picking her up when she screamed, soothing her at night. She called me “Mama.” Her first memory is being “sprung” from her crib by me and I remember that day as well.  A small, eighteen month old child engaging me with her big blue eyes and devilish smile, she melted my heart instantly.

I miss the little girl she was. I wish I could scoop her into my arms like I used to when she was a child. Even a hug is asking too much, I know. I still remember how it felt though. I can’t remember what I did last night for dinner but the softness of her skin and her wet sloppy kisses on my cheek are unforgettable, as well as the sound of her infectious, devilish laugh.

My daughter knows what she wants at all times. When she was a mere child she planned her birthday parties three years in advance and never changed her mind. When she was younger she did ballet, wearing a pink leotard, a pink tutu, tights, and tiny beige ballet shoes. Her hair was in a bun covered by a pink, lacy barrette.  If I had to recreate her in dance she would now be a modern dancer, leaping through the air like a gazelle, wearing scarves in vibrant colors, her hair loose and wild, moving with the music.

She is a vegetarian and always has been since she was a baby. When I tried to feed her meat baby food she spit it out immediately and laughed when it hit me on my face. To this day, she does not eat meat, she loves all animals, especially our dog. She shows the most affection to our dog whom she hugs and kisses and confides in. I love watching her long arms around our dog’s neck, whispering her confidences to her.

She is incredibly smart, private and can buy five outfits on the clearance rack that look gorgeous on her within three minutes. She takes after her grandmother when it comes to style, it definitely missed my generation. We do, on occasion, have our mother-daughter feuds. She will stare me down with those hardened blue eyes and say as condescendingly as possible: “you’re not wearing THAT are you?” or  “what exactly are those pants you’re wearing, tell me they are not sweat pants!!” Sigh, and I thought I looked fashionable, I refused to change.

I will always be here for you, beautiful girl.  I’m holding on to these last months when you still live at home. I can’t wait to see what second semester will bring: the prom, the senior musical, the college of your choice. I know you will have a lot of fun; be happy and know that I am happy for you.

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I’m Thankful For…. Chronic Babe Carnival

Waves crashing at Sal, Cabo Verde

Image by aldask via Flickr

In this blistering cold weather, I am thankful for a peek of bright yellow from the sun coming through the budding trees. When I am sitting on an, old, worn bench in the front yard and see the little purple flowers around the edge of the brown grass I am thankful for that too. What I am thinking about this very moment is how to be thankful when you have heard news that makes you unhappy, in other words, when life throws you a curve ball or two.  I think those are the times, like now, that might mean the most because it is test and a challenge and I need to teach the lessons to myself all over again. Learning from unexpected challenges….learning the hard way in the real world.

I wished for my mom to feel better and with deep gratitude, she is slowly feeling better. The spark is back in her voice for the most part and she plans to go back to her yoga class every week where she is surrounded by loving class-mates who have kissed her soft cheek after months of her absence.  I am thirty years younger than she is but with Fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, I cannot do yoga. Yes, I have tried it and couldn’t manage it. I did take Pilates for senior citizens and special needs people but because of my lack of balance, I couldn’t keep up. What was humiliating and embarrassing at the time, is funny now. I am grateful my sense of humor returned.

Tonight, I heard that my husband will have to spend six weeks in Buffalo on a new project. This came out of the blue and he starts immediately. It shocked us both, and within one minute we also heard from our son that he did not get into one of the colleges he applied to. I had to think hard and glean the gratitude of these two events. When my husband said he had “bad news” I thought his (new) job had been eliminated. The fact that he wasn’t let go and still has a job after two years of unemployment is a good thing. I need to wrap my head around the location change. Even though it’s not the end of the world, it’s hard to be a mom of two demanding teenagers when you have chronic pain issues. That my son got rejected from one of the schools he applied to, could very well be a humbling experience for him and a good life lesson. Life speaks to us that way, in gentle tones and whispers unless we ignore them and then we are hit with hard, crashing blasts of turmoil and angst. The decision might not have gone the way you hoped, now stop and think how some things are not meant to be, and that “things happen for a reason.”

We’re constantly (does it really have to be THAT constant?) challenged in ways which we do not expect. Riding the waves, both rough and smooth is part of the process and I am grateful I have learned to do that. I am also grateful that I know myself well enough to know that I need a good 24 hours to process ANY change. After that, things are easier to take and understand. It doesn’t help me from not getting shocked but it does give me a reasonable time frame to get myself together and plan accordingly.

I am also thankful for my family, of course, and my friends. I am equally happy that I can let my feelings, good or bad, out on this computer and learn to process things on my own. I have books to read, music to listen to and ultimately, little control over what happens in the future. With years of trial and tribulation and of experience, I have learned that there are many rough waves in the world to ride out. I just need 24 hours to remember how to do it. For that knowledge alone, I am exceedingly grateful.

EARLY COLLEGE: A PARODY

Even though the SAT or ACT is preferred in dif...

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Dear College Board,

We are parents of a Junior and a Senior in High School. We know all about ” early decision” where students can find out their application status earlier than other students. We also know it is a binding contract and should be taken very seriously. There is also “early action” which is non-binding but still affords the potential student with information about their status from certain colleges with a rolling admissions process. We know it can be a very stressful and tense time waiting for the dreaded AND most eagerly anticipated, April 1st 2011 deadline.  Herewith, I am planning a proposal for yet another placement strategy that is called ” Early College.”

“Early College” are for those seniors in High School that are READY to be in college even though it is still the first quarter of their senior year. “Early College” is meant to help parents deal with their children’s “senioritis”: obnoxious behavior, arguments and their child’s apparent “superior- knowledge -in -everything.” Since these children seem to be SO advanced,  with their astounding wisdom and arrogance it seems fitting that they should have a temporary place to live at a college, any college, before they get officially accepted. Students  would be required to take the following courses: No Beer 101, No Weed, 101, No Lying 101 thru 501 (advanced placement offered after a failed a polygraph test), I Like My Friends Better 101, 301, and 501 and Trying The Patience Of Parents (can be repeated if necessary.)

Parents of the world have been suffering through this transitory stage since the inception of college as we know it today.  It is generally a process that starts in the Junior year of High School which includes, but is not limited to, the following:  1) driving permit, 2) PSAT, 3) tutoring for the SAT, 4) paying for the PSAT and SAT ) 5) paying for driver’s education course 6) paying for additional drivers on our insurance etc. We listen with an open heart to gripes about the PSAT, ACT, SAT, SAT 2’s, and those teachers that “hate” our children. We pay for additional tutoring with a smile and a hefty check and we shuttle those with a learner’s permit to and from: malls, movies, friend’s houses, malls, and malls. I am proposing a Junior program as well for those Juniors in HS that are not quite ready to take the big step away from home. It’s called the “Parent Appreciation Program & Smiling” program or PAPS as we call it. This program is for an entire week where students will have to sit through (or be sat on) courses such as the following: Eye Rolling, Superior Attitude, Cursing, and Selfish Behavior.  In these classes, teachers will parrot student behaviors and show students what it is like for parents every single day and night. They should learn how it feels and recite the following every ten minutes: “treat others as you would like to be treated.” That is, in our program, our mantra.

Thank you for your attention and consideration. We know that the aforementioned programs will bring a brief respite for parents and some important information for the Juniors and Seniors in all High Schools. Please let us know what we can do to expedite this program. I mean that seriously, please.

Yours truly,

Parents of High School Students Incorporated

“Please Come To Boston In The Spring-Time”

My husband and I  are sitting in the huge auditorium at a college in Massachusetts, visiting with our son who is a Junior and our daughter who is a Sophomore in High School. It’s the first college tour for me and I am both in awe and incredulous. Like an ice-cold hand  pressing on a sunburned body. Shock. Excitement. Surreal.  An out-of-body experience and, the new reality that is your life.  The first college tour ever is probably the one you, (more than your son and daughter) will remember, because after all these years, your baby, your first-born is really, truly, thinking about college; and eventually, sooner rather than later, is going.  Gone are the Mommy and Me classes, the grade school performances, the middle school musicals.This is being a Junior in HS,  this is big.

As much as the focus is on the student you will find, as I did, there is a moment of part regression, part longing that whispers into your ear  “Why can’t I go to college  for four years and have fun and study? I sat through talk after talk, part of me knowing now how much fun college was but not appreciating it back then. I listened intently as they spoke about community involvement, special clubs, volunteering. It was all I could do not to raise my hand. But this wasn’t about me, this was about my son.

Watching your baby (and they are all our babies) sitting in the auditorium, intently listening to the Admissions Officer or Student Guide talk is fascinating in itself, regardless of what school you are in. The baby whose hands you clasped just minutes ago, to cross the street, is the one bounding up the stairs  with a bold grin to be on a tour with a student who is also a Volunteer Ambulance Corp and an EMT. That’s a connection, something your child is passionate about; something that at this college exists.

My point is that irregardless of the all too familiar campus spiel  (and after a while they do all sound the same) and how great this and that college is, there may be a pivotal, random moment (and it could be ANYTHING) that will have your son and daughter make his or her mind up in half of one second. You will know it when you see it, your child will absolutely glow. It could be the food in the cafeteria, or a particularly nice day outside or what the girls are wearing on campus. This is what I am here to tell you as we get started in the process. It may not make sense to you, but it will for your child. That one second buzz word (like Volunteer Ambulance Corp and EMT)  could have been the moment his decision was made. It  could be made in a blink of an eye or a particularly sunny day, or the french fries in the cafeteria. What they are looking for and most certainly find, is a spark, a connection, the right buzz word for your child. If you know your kid, you can’t miss it and you won’t. It most certainly doesn’t mean he or she will get in but it will be a moment to remember.  Pay attention to it.

Go, little bird, fly away and be happy. You and I both know I will cry when you leave; saying good-bye is not one of my strong points.  All parents really want, is for you to be happy, be safe and come home to visit even if you bring your dirty laundry. We’ll take what we can before we send you out back again into your new exciting life, away from us, in your new fun-filled, marvelous world.