Great Moments from a Younger Life

I really did think for a long time that I had run out of things to say about our personal loosening of apron strings.  As some of you know, I started this blog in 2012 when I had a one year count down to sending my son off to college.  We got him off to a university about 80 miles away from home in the Fall of 2013 and things seemed good.

Now it is Fall 2014 and it is necessary to look at these apron strings again as they continue to be stretched to their limit.

Today is the first road trip for my son and a friend.  They have decided to take a 300 mile round trip from Fayetteville AR to Springfield MO for a gaming event.  Now, Fayetteville is full of gamers and events, but this one, the one in Springfield, is the national pro-qualifier and the winner gets a paid entry and airfare to Washington DC for “The Big Game”.  So, they HAVE to go, right?

I will say that my son called on Thursday to tell me that he really wanted to go, but wanted my blessing.  That led to about 24 hours of my stressing over all sorts of bad things that could happen, but I knew down deep inside that: 1) he is ready to make a trip like this and 2) these kinds of trips are often completed successfully and turn into stories from “great moments from my younger life”.  I thought about the time when my college friends and I attended a Hall and Oats concert (a 300 mile round trip) the night before a physics test. The concert and trip were great moments, but unfortunately, the scores on the test were not “great moments from a younger life” for some of my friends. All of us have “great moments” that we look back upon and I’ve come to realize that we need to continue to have great moments in our lives no matter what age we are.

In about 4 days, I will be flying to Los Angeles by myself to conduct a training.  I’m not a great flyer, I’m going by myself, and Los Angeles……well, do I need to say anything else?  I’ve been secretly dreading this trip, but yesterday, one of my young (under 30) coworkers told me how much she wished she was going.  She rightfully saw it as an opportunity to have a great moment instead of the travel hassle that I saw.  So, that made me rethink the trip to Springfield for two college guys, some cards, snacks and a phone with a GPS.

So, in the immortal words of Elwood Blues and the original road trip,

” It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.”

blues bros

Have a safe road trip to add to  your great moments, Calvin.  And call me when you get back!

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Our Christmas Present – Another Grownup in the House

Christmas break is drawing to a close.

We have been experiencing the first Christmas break of our college student and it’s not been too bad.

I was prepared for daily battles of what time he thought he should come home and I would be moping around because he was spending more time with friends than family. But that’s not so…

It actually started prior to the break. We were on the phone catching up about finals and the end of the semester. Two important things stood out in our conversation. He had aced Physics and he wanted to pick up a few hours of work while on break to get some spending money. I don’t know which made me happier – good grades or the desire to work.

Throughout the break, he has done a good job of balancing work, friends and family. Even last night, he spent some time with friends and then came home to Mohaska Farmhouse pizza and a Red Box rental and spent the rest of the evening with us.

Could it be that college is not only helping my son get ready for a job, but helping him become an adult?  Or that he’s experienced more things and now home doesn’t seem so bad?

Whatever the case, I’m enjoying it.

Loosening Apron Strings, the Saga Continues

I’ve been quiet for the last few months.  Sorry about that.

We managed to get our son off to college and in some ways, I thought this blog should be over.  After all, my intention was to talk about that final year of high school, getting ready for college and how we dealt with it.  However, I realized that with the title “Loosening the Apron Strings” could mean a lot more than just that one year.  So, here I am, a parent of a freshman in college. If you read “Chrisman 2 College” (another blogger, who may be having waaaay too much fun in college) perhaps my blogs will offer the parent view point.

In a nutshell, the summer seemed to drag and fly by.  Each day I wanted to accomplish something to get ready for college.  Things like, 1) my son communicating with his roommate, 2) buying necessary residence hall supplies, 3) washing things (not sure what things – but they needed to be washed) 4) getting a new cell phone that is dependable and the back stays on, 5) well, you get the idea.  I had a list of things that I felt needed to be done.  In the middle of summer, we took a family vacation/family reunion trip to Portland, Oregon and an older nephew worked on luring my son over to the dark side of computer programming.  Considering the nephew is now living and working abroad for Microsoft, maybe that isn’t such a bad route after all.  My son worked on procrastinating for the summer, resulting in a flurry of activity the week before he moved into the residence hall.

By the way, does it really make it so much better to call a 10 ft by 15 ft room that you have to share with a stranger, the “residence hall”?  While on campus, we were corrected a few times when we referred to his temporary dwelling as a “dorm room”.  It might be a longer and fancier name, but it’s still a dorm room.

So here we are, right before Thanksgiving.  My son made it home yesterday.  All 85 miles by himself.  I’m still not used to him driving the highways by himself, but at least I know that he can find his way home.  In the past couple of years, he has demonstrated himself to be geographically challenged, which made our selection of University of Arkansas almost a must.  If he can find the highway and go north – he’ll find his hometown. And thankfully he did.

We’ve already spent one evening grilling him about every detail at college.  It seems strange to not have a part of his daily life, but it is great to find out that we still do have a part of his life.  I used to hear about “cutting the apron strings” but I hope that we never cut them entirely, just stretch them out a bit.

So, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you with apron strings that extend all over the world.

A Grand Adventure and Parenting

A Grand Adventure and Parenting

I haven’t written much about the last few weeks, preferring to keep all those thoughts and emotions to myself for a while.  As many of you know, we’ve spent that last year getting our son ready to go to college.  We’ve experienced college visits, college letters, orientation, buying and packing and finally, move-in day.

It is extremely exciting to get to see a loved one off on a grand new adventure in their life and probably the only thing more exciting would be starting your own adventure.  There is a curious mixture of pride, excitement and sadness, and each emotion is ready to overwhelm you at any time.  You want your son or daughter to live life and go forward with their plans, even if it means not being in your house or town, but then again, you will miss seeing them as much as you want.

I wonder, if prior to having a baby, if we were provided with a list of job duties and responsibilities of a parent, that culminates in working one’s self into an advisory role, would we take the job?  Would I have taken on this role if I had known that I would have a decade of pukiness and I’d have to learn how to get over the urge to sympathetic vomit?  Or that after the years of early teen disdainment, we’d have a wonderful and loving young man in our house and that would be the time that he would need to leave?  If parenting was logical, then – no, who would do it?  But, parenting is not logical and aren’t we glad our parents did it and that many of us get to do it?

I’ve been thinking about Jack London’s “Credo” and I think it is applicable to our young people going off on their adventures and to those of us parents who have got them there.

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

So, cheers to all of you parents who are seeing kids off on college/new job/new country/etc. adventures.

As for the kids starting their new chapters – Call your Mom.

Sunrise in Copenhagen – by A. Greenvoss