Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Parenting Teenagers

Pretty much freaking out this summer as my last baby prepares to go off to college. We bought a Brita pitcher (green of course) and some bookcases. Her older sister is handing down her dorm bed sheets (green again, yay!) and her brother gave her a pretty decent TV after he won a better one in a poker game. All that stuff is basically handled - although, this is our, hmmm how do I put this, well she's our hoarder. Pretty sure it might require a full size moving truck to take the stuff she wants to take. On the other hand, it's not just about what will fit in whatever vehicle/method we finally determine will best move her to college, but also what will fit in her dorm room - so at least we don't have to be the total bad guy in this. The University she is attending actually provides rather large dorm fridges, so she won't be needing that, even though we have one left over from the older sister. Three kids in college at the same time does tend to present the requirment for two of almost everything, pretty much the same as when they were babies and we needed two cribs, two car seats, two strollers, etc. Haha, we thought all that baby shit was expensive -- two things, people have a lot more baby shit they are willing to hand down. We had big family collections on both sides that we handed around. Most of my nieces and nephews who shared baby clothes, kid furniture, and even sports equipment have not had a single dorm thing to hand down... hmmmmmm, do you think they all lost their shit in poker games? These details are not freaking me out.
Also -- God Bless America -- yeah that's right, every single school wants us to do a verification of our FAFSA. If you don't have (or haven't had yet) a college student, then you probably aren't familiar with this "college lingo" that has evolved quite a bit since we packed up our toaster ovens and hot pots and trundled off to college on a wing and a prayer and hopefully some $$ from our grandparents. These days, regardless of how affluent you are, you have to fill out the FAFSA (it means Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The name would imply that if you have your college $$ all taken care of (great savings, scholarships, blackmailing your mafia uncle, etc) that you don't have to fill it out. I'm told EVERYONE has to fill it out, although, with three in college and basically nothing saved toward their educations, we didn't bat an eye at "Federal Student Aid". 1st year, one student in college, FAFSA returns an EFC (more new lingo - Estimated Family Contribution) about equal to what I was being paid at the time - and not something we could possibly have come up with. Many student loans and three years later, that child is still enrolled, her tuition is still being paid, and I only owe several thousand dollars to various entities -- she owes tens of thousands of dollars, sure hope she gets a good job! Second student added 1 year ago, and I lost my job in the meantime (love this economy) - FAFSA returned a slightly more swallowable EFC, still impossible, but several scholarships later, we only paid out of pocket a couple thousand dollars for his education last year. Third child not even enrolled yet, but registered -- FAFSA returned a very reasonable EFC (which we pay little of) and THREE PELL GRANTS - one for each kid - YAY (Federal $$, does not have to be repaid). However, there's this little thing that I think is at the discretion of each school, called 'verification'. Second year that oldest child was at her University - we had to do a verification. Third year that oldest child was at her University was the first year that the boy was at his college -- his college required a verification -- this year ALL THREE SCHOOLS want the verification. It's not that big of a deal, it's just sorta like filing your taxes all over again (or filling out your FAFSA a second time). This is also not freaking me out.
Our house will be empty - okay this is freaking me out a little. Part of me thinks, "wow, no more shit to wash/pick up/cook/shop for/etc." (usually when I'm washing, picking up, cooking and shopping) -- and part of me thinks things like "I will love just cooking for the hubby again, special little romantic meals, etc." (this is usually when I'm up to armpits in cooking for 28 people something that I don't actually like to eat) -- and part of me thinks, "geez how long has it been since we had sex in the middle of the living room in the middle of the day" (usually when he wants to and the kids are home with 12 friends on their way over) but mostly I think, "who the fuck am I going to talk to?"; "who is going to go to Costco with me?"; "what will I do with all that time?"; and of course I cry (not as much as I thought I would). This does have me a little freaked out - but...
My BABY is going to be further away than her brother and sister, the reality is, flying, driving, anything short of a science fiction transport of some sort, is going to have her a minimum of 15 hours away. I don't like this, I don't like it at all, and I'm totally freaked out about it. I don't know how people send their children half way around the world, I now have a much deeper understanding of how my mother felt when I went to Spain. I can't bear the idea of her having some sort of emergency or crisis and I can't get to her for 15 hours. My other daughter is two hours away, from my front door to hers. My son is right at 3 hours away. This fifteen hours thing is literally taking the breath out of me. I sometimes look at the clock (1:49pm) if she had an issue right now, I couldn't be with her until 4:30 tomorrow morning. ACK!!! Also, much more than my other two (maybe because we are closer?) she is pulling away from me. Spending less time with me, not being as affectionate with me, acting like any of our shared interests are boring and mundane -- this is freaking me out. Logical me can tell myself that this is probably a very natural part of the whole transition that was either less obvious with my other kids because they are by nature very sanguine and their methods of showing affection are not what other people would call affectionate, or because I still had other children at home to spend time with, to share activities with, etc. Logical me can tell myself that this is good for her, it will assist her in becoming independent, it will make the change less severe, etc. Logical me can also tell myself that this is temporary, and that after she is gone, and she misses me, she will express her affection, she will want to call up just to watch a television show together over the phone, she will get a cold and want her mommy, just as her brother and sister have done. Emotional me doesn't give a shit for anything logical me has to say, emotional me wants to kick logical me in the shins and pee on logical me's pillow. Emotional me just wants my baby to come running up to me and tell me how much she's going to miss me and could we just go get pedicures and hang out for the day, just us. Today emotional me is winning -- logical me is sleeping sitting up in a chair with one eye open.

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