Yesterday was a very cool day. Doireann and I were touring colleges. Two colleges to be specific. We live in a college-saturated state. I don’t know if people think of colleges and universities when they think of our state, but we’ve got ’em. So, we headed an hour south yesterday to the little town that’s home to two of our state’s very well-known schools.
We were only scheduled for a tour of that school, but it was thorough. It was two hours, and it was a gorgeous day for walking around. This college is known for its beautiful campus. It’s seductive in its natural beauty, and there are fireplaces everywhere. There was a rooftop garden created by a collaboration with the environmental science department and the art department. They win in the aesthetics department.
The first tour ended at noon. The second tour began at 1. Doireaan was infatuated with the first college. It was impossible not to be. Our second college, however, is in the top ten of liberal arts colleges in the country. They are a highly selective college with a 20% acceptance rate. The first college has a 60% acceptance rate. It all became a question of what made the second college so outstanding. I was dying to know.
There was an informational meeting first. The Dean of Admissions himself led the meeting. He was a soft-spoken, avuncular gentleman with a white beard that reminded me of Santa Claus. He smiled a lot, and, to his credit, he had a way with helicopter parents. There was a father and daughter pair from Illinois that had come to see the college. They were in the meeting with us along with a boy from Oregon. Strangely enough, we were the only people from within the state. I heard this man talking to his very meek daughter. He was loud and obnoxious, going on about the benefits of a research university vs. a teaching university. Once the meeting began, we were all to introduce ourselves–even the parents–and the kids were to state their interests. His daughter was so quiet, and he bossed her around without hesitation.
“Tell them your name.”
“Tell them your interests.”
She was only a sophomore. According to her father, she was interested in genetics. I kept an eye on her peripherally, and I watched her play with her hands and blush every time her father hijacked the meeting. The dean, however, handled him with aplomb.
The tour was similar to the other tour, but the second college was vastly different in its culture and attitudes. At the end of the tour I looked at Doireann and asked, “Well?” She declared, “I’m going here. I will go here. I will live here. I’ll apply to both, but this is where I’m going.”
We had an early dinner in this little town’s downtown area at a place called The Hideaway. They have little niches in which you can hide yourself while you eat, and Doireann told me that she finally realized that life didn’t end after high school. She saw that she could survive the rest of her high school experience because a much broader experience was waiting for her. Also, why have her teachers been lying to her? For the most part, her teachers have made college sound like another level of Dante’s hell. I’ve been trying to tell her that it’s not, but she had to see it for herself to internalize that. Now, she can finish strong. She’s worked hard. She deserves to do that.
We found a darling boutique on our way back to the car. Totally girly. Men might break out in hives if they stepped foot in this place. I bought Doireann a necklace as a reminder of her day, and I serendipitously found a bracelet that I brought home as well. It had metallic beads strung together that spelled ‘gratitude’.
Doireann played DJ as we drove home. There was a moment in the car that I know I’ll never forget. Last year during Doireann’s finals, she became overwhelmed and very frustrated. I found her lying prone on the floor. So, I told her that she needed to let off some steam. Have a 5-minute dance party. Doireann glared at me. She does not dance. I told her that she misunderstood me. The choice of music mattered. She needed to choose music that would let her get out her stress. Her response? “There is no such music, Mom.” Au contraire, my daughter. There is one band that will do the trick. I am a closet fan. No one really knows this about me except my husband. I brought my iPod upstairs, plugged it in, and played Rage Against The Machine’s “How I Could Just Kill A Man”. Not very positive music, but it will get you off the floor in no time. It worked. “Ohmigod, who IS this?” She sat wide-eyed and listened. Then she tapped her foot. Then she looked at me. “Do you want me to just leave the room and leave my iPod up here with you?” She nodded.
She was going to dance…or jump around. What else can you do to Rage Against The Machine if there isn’t a mosh pit around? Throw things?
Well, on the way home yesterday, she put on Rage Against The Machine. I laughed so hard.
Eadaoin sings songs from broadway musicals. Grace loves the Muppets. Milly likes Demi Lovato and gospel music. Doireann and I? We have Rage Against The Machine.
I never had this sort of relationship with my mother. When I went off to college, I did it alone. When I looked at colleges, I did it alone. When I graduated, no one acknowledged it. So, it is a real pleasure for me to break that cycle and create a different life for my daughters and even for myself.
Sometimes it’s hard work, but sometimes it’s just fun.
What am I thankful for today?
- that I had the forethought as a young parent to know that I had to do it differently…and did.
- spring weather
- a working vehicle
- my iPod
- a day with my daughter