I Don’t Want Them to Cry

Dating.   Relationship.  Boyfriend.  All words as a parent I’m just not that fond of.  And luckily haven’t really had to deal with.  I’ve seen Oldest One’s friends go through relationships and angst, and I’ve even hugged some as they cried because the boy didn’t want to be with them anymore.  Oldest One had a couple of boys hurt her feelings, but she didn’t really date.  Little One has already had a boy make her cry.  I know it is a part of life, but I hate to see my girls cry, especially over a boy who just isn’t worth it.  Yes, that is so parent talk to say that.

Last night I stayed up late to chat with Oldest One. We talked about grades, and her roommate, and an upcoming sorority event she is really excited about.  And then she mentioned B.  It’s not the first time I’ve heard about him, but I wasn’t too excited to hear he was back, because from a parental view he is nothing but bad news.

She met B along with a bunch of other kids in the dorm when school started. She thought he was cute, and he seemed to like her.  Then he started to spend time with another girl in the dorm, G.  But G said she wasn’t spending time with him, he said he wasn’t spending time with her, but yet there they were together.  And it seemed they were, from what she heard from others in the dorm, losing their clothes when they were together.  It happens.  Then it turned out B had a girlfriend back home.  Quite the player, at least in my mind.

So Oldest One and I talked about it, after she quit talking to him. We talked about how it was better to find all this out about him early, and about how she wanted someone who would treat her a lot better than that.  Someone who would respect her, and wouldn’t lie about things.  You know, someone decent.  Because there was nothing I heard about this kid that was good.  He’s young, he can do what he wants and say what he wants, just not with my daughter.

But last night she said they are talking, and there were circumstances she didn’t know about. She of course didn’t go into those circumstances with me.  I asked her why she would want to consider being with someone who lied and didn’t respect her, and she went back to these circumstances.  Apparently these circumstances absolve him of all lies and rude behavior.  I said if she wanted to be friends that’s great, be friends with the world.  But don’t date someone who doesn’t respect you and who isn’t nice to you.  I asked her what she would say to someone telling her all of this.  Apparently I overstepped my parental bounds at that point because she got irritated with me and cut that conversation off.  But not before telling me he might be one of our Thanksgiving guests.  Yippee.

I have a lot more I’d like to say to her, but I know I have to let her get hurt if she decides to date him. It’s not like I didn’t have a B in college, I did, and I’m pretty sure he was worse than this guy.  And a whole lot older.  But I remember how much it hurt, and I wasn’t even in love with my B.  But I sure liked him a whole lot, and I was willing to overlook a lot of things I shouldn’t have.  It was a good learning experience, and I know I have to let her have her learning experiences with relationships.

I just don’t want to see her hurt, and upset, and crying. I don’t care that it’s a part of life and growing up and figuring out who you are and what you want in a person.  I want to keep my daughters from getting hurt, which is impossible.  So I’ll do my best, instead, to be there when I’m needed.  I’ll listen when she needs me to, and try to not criticize and put B down.  When things don’t work out, I’ll support her, and send a lot of chocolate.  Most of all, I’ll continue to love her unconditionally.

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The Hovering Helicopter

Helicopter Parents. I’ve read articles about them, and how not to be one, and I try.  I’m sure in some ways I am, because I worry about the girls.  But I’ve always tried to let them solve their own problems, because I won’t always be able to help.

When Oldest One was in 6th grade – I think – she ran for a class office.  We made posters, and helped her write her speech…the usual parent things.  Problems came about when the girl she was running against started to take Oldest One’s signs down and put them in the trash, and started bad mouthing her.  Oldest One told us about it, and that the principal had called the other girl in, and her parents were called.  We talked about it, and how she felt, and what she could do about it.  Ultimately the other girl won, and Husband bought a beautiful vase filled with flowers for Oldest One to cheer her up, and which did put a smile on her face.  A co-worker berated me the next day, saying I should have made a big deal of what the other girl did, and I should have demanded she be taken out of the running.  Basically, she was saying I didn’t do enough.  I told my co-worker I could have done all of that, but what would my child have learned?  Life isn’t always easy, people aren’t always nice, and you don’t always win.  Better for her to find those things out now, and learn to cope, then to be a 20-something having a major meltdown at her first job.  Oh, and Oldest One went on to hold offices in high school, so, yes, it all worked out.

This was all brought to mind as I texted Oldest One today. Although she went and paid her parking ticket last week, it is still showing on her Bursar account.  I have to pay the balance on the account today, and I’m not including the ticket, since I know it’s paid.  I texted her to remind her to go to the Bursar’s Office with the receipt to have them remove the ticket charge.  She is busy today, can she go tomorrow is what I received as an answer.  She can, but there might bet a late charge, so I told her she needed to make sure it was removed along with the ticket.

Could I call the Bursar’s office myself? I could, although since she is 18 I don’t know if they would talk to me.  But I don’t want to.  She needs to start handling this stuff herself.  I’m reminding her, but ultimately she has to do it herself.  She needed to go to Student Health, so I told her to take her insurance card, pay for the visit with her debit card, and I’d put the money in her account to cover it.  Because she is old enough to make the appointment herself.  She still needs our help, and our advice, but she is at college now, and needs to start doing things and figuring out things.  I haven’t talked to any professors or her advisor, because I shouldn’t.  I don’t want to either.  But I’ve suggested she do it, when the situation seemed to indicate it would help, and she did, and it was a good result for her.

Letting go is tough. Kids grow up too fast for us parents, and our instinct is to throw our arms around them and protect them from the world.  Doing everything for them is one of the ways to do this.  But it doesn’t help the kids grow and learn, and understand what to do next time.  I’m always just a phone call away, and I’ll always stop what I’m doing to listen and to chat.  But it’s time for her to start making her own appointments, and to figure out how to get the Bursar to remove a charge that has already been paid.  Bigger challenges are on the way, and if we don’t give our kids a chance to conquer the little stuff, how can we expect them to be prepared for just living?

Bad Girl for Volunteering!

At Oldest One’s University there is an Alternate Breaks program, where during spring break student’s go to different cities and work with the homeless and underserved populations. I had told Oldest One about this program last year, and she recently applied to take part in it.  She was accepted into the program across the country, which costs a bit more than those in states closer to us.

We were still fine with it, since the program gets grants and solicits donations to make the fee the students have to pay very low. It is a fraction of what we paid for her Costa Rica trip.  And, since there are a couple thousand kids that apply, and she got chosen, we are also very proud of her for getting a spot.

She set up a GoFundMe page to try and get donations to help pay for the trip. She posted it to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  I only have Facebook, and I shared it asking anyone who wanted to support her to please donate.  Most people either ignored it or commented they thought it was great she was doing this.  Except for one person.

A family member’s fiancé, who tends to be negative (one day I’ll tell you all the story about meeting her…Oy Vey!) commented “Why leave the state to help the homeless? Couldn’t you help locally??”  Oldest One does help locally, and through University groups does volunteer projects to help the underserved populations.  I was just amazed that someone could look at her trip, and make it seem like a bad thing to be doing.

Oldest One could have asked us for money to go to Florida for spring break, where I’m guessing things go on I don’t want to know about. But instead she asked to go as part of a college program and spend her break helping those having a rough time of it.  Yeah, she is a rotten kid.

Oldest One answered the comment before I did, in, as one of my friends said, a very mature and articulate way. She very nicely pointed out that she will be able to do more, having an entire week, and that she will be able to interact with them in a very different way than when she only gets a few hours.  And she also pointed out how many students weren’t able to be a part of this.  My comment was how proud we were she wanted to help people on her spring break instead of partying.  Not surprisingly, the negative commenter didn’t say anything else.

With all the stories we hear of kids the age of Oldest One doing idiot things, and being narcissistic, you’d think Oldest One would get this person’s support for getting into this program and for wanting to do this. It shows a different side of this age group, and one I’ve seen in a lot of kids, that they care, want to make a difference, and are worried about the plight of others.

I didn’t delete the comment, or de-friend this person, even though several people told me I should. That she is negative and possibly narrow-minded is her loss.  I also don’t know how to de-friend someone, and I’m too lazy to figure it out.  I support my daughter, and many other people do also.  I’m proud of her, and excited for her that she has this opportunity.  One Negative Nellie isn’t going to change that.  Oldest One, and Little One too, are going to help make the world a better place.

Exercise Classes?

Oldest One is registering for spring semester at college. She really wanted to take an exercise class, but said there aren’t any.  I offered to look, because of course there are PE classes offered.  Heck, back in the late 80’s we were required to take a PE class in order to graduate.

But that has changed. The only exercise type classes I could find were under Dance.  I know ballet isn’t to her liking, and though she might like modern dance or tap dance, that isn’t what she is looking for.  These days college students have massive, and amazing, recreation centers.

I went to look up the rec center website. Her dorm is right across the street, and she does use it regularly to run, treadmill and lift weights.  She and her neighbor try to go every night.  She said the classes cost money, so she didn’t want to ask to do one there.  It’s actually a good deal though, to get her a pass for the classes.  I can get a pass for an entire semester much cheaper than I can get her a gym membership, and she can go to any of the classes when she wants.  If she has time and wants to go to 3 different classes in one day she can.  And the classes are for everything from yoga to Zumba to water aerobics.

Husband agrees the pass is a good deal, so if she wants it we are getting it. My parents never encouraged me to do any exercise or sports, because “girls didn’t do that.”  We have always had our girls active, mostly in competitive cheer, which is very physically demanding.  I’ve been told if I had been physically active and exercising my scoliosis may not have gotten so bad, because my back muscles would have been stronger and could have held up better.  Today all my back issues ultimately stem from the curving of my spine.

I’m determined my girls will always have access to recreation centers, gyms, and classes. I will happily pay for all of it to help keep them fit and active, and keep their muscles strong.  I don’t want them to have my issues one day, and in doing this I can help them avoid it.

Family Weekend

This past weekend was Family Weekend at Oldest One’s university. Because we weren’t sure with all my problems if we could go, I waited until the last minute to book a room.  Our usual hotel was charging $800 a night, instead of the usual $80.  Ridiculous!  So, I found another hotel for $60 a night, which, upon entering, prompted Husband to declare we had hit a new low for our hotel stays.  The area was definitely rougher, yet we had a very quiet stay.  Husband had to pay $20 (refundable) to get the one key allowed for the room.  The air conditioner, which kept the room very cold, was held together by duct tape and cardboard.  The furniture was chipped and stained, and Little One had fun hopping around the carpet finding where the hard lumps were.  The beds were really comfortable, the sink in the bathroom was huge, and most important, the cable in the hotel included the channel needed to watch the college football game we weren’t able to get tickets for (just for Husband and Little One, I had planned to watch in the hotel all along).

I couldn’t do much, so Husband and Little One went with Oldest One to the carnival on Saturday, and to walk around the campus with Oldest One showing them where her classes were, where she went to study groups and to study, and where the Starbucks with the least amount of people was. I was able, with my cane and special chair, to do the tailgate and brunch at the sorority house.  The sorority house was beautiful, and much bigger than it looked from the outside.  The only Mom I got the opportunity to talk to was a completely rude and nasty woman.  When I initiated conversation she actually ignored me and turned her head.  Oldest One assured me most of the Moms are really nice, but I got the one who isn’t.

I also made it to Oldest One’s dorm room. I did have to lay on the floor on the sleeping bags and blankets Little One had slept on after I got there because the beds are so high, but that was okay, because I was there!  She has all the sorority things she has been given so far on the walls, along with pictures of family and friends, and Audrey Hepburn.  Oldest One loves Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  We briefly met her roommate (they are cordial, but that’s it).  Her roommate’s side of the room is super clean and organized.  Her roommate also has a framed 8×10 of herself on her desk.  Interesting.

To spend time with me Oldest One brought the DVD of Dirty Dancing over (checked out from the front desk of the dorm…she loves their movie selections) and we watched it on my laptop snuggled together in one of the hotel beds. Because of the game, and how long it took for her to get her car out of the parking garage with game traffic, she got to the hotel super late…we didn’t finish the movie until 3a.  Husband and Little One fell asleep in the other bed, and Little One pretty much sleep walked back to the dorm with her sister.  Oldest One and I had a great time watching the movie, chatting, saying the lines, and getting annoyed with Baby.

And, to keep the good times going, I got a call yesterday from the Big Name Clinic I had sent my MRI reports to for review, and the surgeon gave me an appointment! Which means he saw something wrong that he thinks he could surgically correct!  Just think, next year for Family Weekend maybe I can do everything, including walking everywhere and attending the football game.  I always strive to dream big!

Ahh, College

Going through the college process with Oldest One brings back memories, and definitely has provided some interesting moments of how the teenage mind works.

Oldest One will be attending the university I started out at. The processes were completely different back when I was about to be a college freshman, and there is no comparison to how it is done now. But it is still bringing back memories of my excitement, and how ready I was to leave home and be on my own. Not that I was truly on my own, I just didn’t know it. Oldest One loves to tell us she is almost an adult, and gets quite miffed when I respond that it is due to Husband and me providing the money for her to be there that it is happening.

Oldest Ones best friend was not able to get into the same dorm because she was doing everything a month later than Oldest One had. So she was trying to convince Oldest One to move dorms. We looked at six or seven dorms during our visit last year, and there was one dorm that stood out that Oldest One loved. It is across the street from the rec center, there is a university store within walking distance, and it is at a good place on campus to access the student union, library and most classrooms. Luckily the housing website has pictures and video tours of all the dorms, so before any changes were made I suggested we look at those. We looked at my old dorm, and wow, as much as it has changed a lot was still the same.

The showers looked exactly the same, down to the white shower curtains across each one. The closet and dresser in each room were the same. The beds were new, and much nicer, and there is a separate desk for each person. When I was there my roommate and I had a huge table with a chair on each side and that was our desk, our refrigerator was under the table, and it was also a catch-all for stuff. The night the table came off the wall and fell on me we discovered someone had written “beware of the killer desk” on the bottom.

Oldest One stayed with her original dorm choice, and now needs to do roommate matching. I was supposed to room with a good friend who ended up not going to the university at the last minute. So I was put with someone who hadn’t requested a specific roommate. She was fine, but her boyfriend wasn’t, and when I walked into the room one night and found him going through my underwear drawer I was done (the last of many wrong acts on his part) and requested a new room with a new roommate. The new person didn’t have anyone who wanted anything to do with my underwear. So I hope the roommate matching system, which works with Facebook, is good. She’ll answer questions and then be matched with other people looking for roommates and they can find out about each other, message, and decide if they want to room together. If she matches with more than one person she gets a list of people. Almost like looking for a date, only if you don’t like this person after a couple of days you are probably stuck for a while.

One of the best parts has been applying for scholarships. I didn’t have any scholarships and nobody ever suggested I apply for any. My student loans will be paid off after my house is. So Oldest One is being seriously nagged about applying for scholarships. She is doing them now in her senior year, but after all I’ve learned Little One will start applying for them in her sophomore year. Oldest One is trying to find and apply for anything she qualifies for. I was so happy when she started asking me questions to help her determine what she could apply for, and to help answer questions for specific scholarships. I did have to point out that she shouldn’t mark that she is active military, but that she is the dependent of a veteran. And unfortunately nobody in any family is a licensed contractor, so that scholarship had to be skipped. We figured out that if we had been homeless, she had a kid, one of her parents was part of the LGBT community or any other number of categories she didn’t fit she would have a much easier time with the scholarships. Oh, and it would have helped if Husband and I didn’t have college educations. She was right, we didn’t plan well for the world of scholarships.

So as Oldest One gets ready to start making college memories I am remembering my college years. I had fun, it was a great learning experience for me, and I am so glad she gets to do this. I’m not looking forward to her being in a different city, because of how much I’ll miss her, but I was fine, and she will be just fine too.