T-Minus Zero: Thoughts on Launching My Son Into College

Today is the day. We have been planning for it for over two years now, even before my son’s junior year in high school when we toured colleges, when he took ACT prep courses and AP classes, participated in all those extracurricular activities, solicited recommendation letters and completed the college applications. It was almost all-consuming, until this May when he finally made his decision to attend a college a two-hour plane ride away.  We could finally breathe a sigh of relief.  Then, reality set in and we began to plan. Shopping, sorting clothes, packing, arranging travel.

We are on an early morning flight, bound for Portland, Oregon to move my son into college.  It takes three parents to do this—his dad, his step-dad and I.  I am almost sure my son will have the most parents to move him into a dorm suite he will share with three other young men.  With all those parents and four students in one single room it is sure to be crowded.  But I would not miss this for anything.  Never mind that despite all my planning, late night packing and barely sleeping, we almost missed the flight because we left too late from the house.  Perhaps I was delaying the inevitable?  Anyway, my husband Juan and I made it without a moment to spare.  My son had arrived at the airport with his dad and was already seated on the plane.  Juan and I found our seats next to my son, and directly in front of his dad. It’s kind of strange to be traveling all together like this, but then again, it really isn’t.  I know that all of us who have played a role in getting our son to this moment, would not want to miss it.

As I settle into my seat and calm my racing heart I hear the voice of a little boy in front of me.  From the space between the seats I can see he has strawberry blonde hair.  The passenger seated beside the boy engages him in a conversation. From the sound of the boy’s voice I guess him to be about 4 years-old. He is talking about Mickey and Minnie Mouse and coloring in a Disney coloring book. All of a sudden I am transported back to a time when I would sit with my own sweet 4 year-old blond-haired son, and read, over and over again, the story of the Tonka Rescue Helicopter.  I close my eyes and try to recall the sound of 4 year-old Nico’s voice, but I can’t. I promise myself that soon I will convert all those video cassettes with countless recorded memories into a digital format, so I can actually watch them and hear my son’s 4 year-old voice.

I look over and see my son, headphones in place, eyes closed, and realize he is the same boy who I read to all those years ago. Then it occurs to me he is not. His once blond, fine hair is now a thick dark brown, and he has grown into a young man, ready to embark on a wonderful, challenging and exciting adventure—without me.

He is ready.  I, on the other hand, may not be.  My son has been a joy to raise and I love having him around.  He is thoughtful, funny, sensitive, bright, kind and good.  I don’t want college to change that.  As much as I know college will challenge him to think and experience beyond the familiar,  I hope that the values we have tried to impart on him will sustain him.  I keep thinking there must be more I can say to him, some wisdom I can share to prepare him, but I know there is nothing else to say right now. We have talked about everything, some of it sensitive enough to embarrass him.

So we are here, about to launch this young man into a life away from his family.  I realize that we didn’t begin this process only two years ago. We have been preparing for this moment his entire life.  I look over at hm, napping, and I am glad. I don’t want him to see me blinking and squinting, trying unsuccessfully to keep the tears from rolling down my face.  He is already concerned enough about his parents because he knows this transition will be difficult for us.  I don’t want to cause him any more concern by seeing my tears.  I use a cocktail napkin to dry my eyes and I know that even though I am sad at the thought of  his leaving, I am deeply, truly excited for him.  I think that means that I am ready too.


Ready to launch. College here he comes!

A Not So Uplyfting Start to our Family Vacation

The other day I told you that we were traveling to Colombia to make Juan’s birthday wish come true. What I didn’t say was that during the first hour– during the first 10 minutes of our trip– Juan’s nightmare also came true.

There are many things I love about my husband, but his anxiety about travel is not one of them. This is surprising because for a man who stresses about travel, we have certainly taken several trips.  To be fair, he doesn’t stress about travel in general, but what gives him the greatest amount of anxiety is everything that happens before we actually get on the plane. How should we get there? What should we pack? Where shall we stay? And most of all,  “How far ahead of our flight should we arrive at the airport?” (Four hours, thank you very much.)

This trip was no different. Even though we had worked out a lot of the logistics that come with booking travel for six people to a foreign country, we did not do any advance planning to arrange transportation to the airport. With Father’s Day as our departure day, we couldn’t ask any family or friends to drive us. The shuttles were very expensive and public transportation just seemed too complicated for six people and as many suitcases. Earlier this week I happened to take a Lyft and as I chatted with the driver, I learned that Lyft could take us all to the airport far cheaper than a regular airport shuttle. It sounded like the perfect solution, except that you can’t book a ride on Lyft in advance. For those of you who have not used Lyft, or Uber, it basically allows you to use an app on your smart phone to order a driver to come pick you up.  The fares are reasonable and the drivers are usually prompt and friendly.  There are different levels of service and since there were six of us, plus luggage in our group, I knew we needed a Lyft Plus. As Juan and I crunched the numbers we decided it made the most sense to order a Lyft Plus to get to the airport. I repeatedly assured Juan what the Lyft driver told me, “Lyft drivers are widely available anytime.”

In order to make our 1:45 p.m. departure, Juan wanted us out the door at 9:00 a.m. (I wasn’t kidding when I said he wanted to be there four hours before.) A little later than planned, I opened my Lyft app at 9:15 to arrange pick up at our house. My heart started pounding a little faster when I read, “No Lyfts available.” I refreshed the screen. Still none available. Worse yet, the message now indicated, “Prime Time,” which meant I had to pay 50% more! I broke the news to Juan and watched his face turn red and a vein in his forehead begin to throb and turn purple. Frantically, he picked up his phone and began calling an airport shuttle. He repeated the message on the phone, “No shuttles available in your area.”  I watched his face now became the color of the throbbing forehead vein. It was too late to schedule a shuttle! I began doing the math in my head. If we drove ourselves and paid for parking that would be $13 per day.  With tax that would be over $300! Luckily, Olivia, a Lyft and Uber expert, like most kids here age, suggested we order two Lyfts, estimating it would cost us the same as Lyft Plus. That seemed to calm my husband down and stop his cardiac arrest, especially when I told him that the Lyft could get to us in 5 minutes.

True enough, five minutes later our first Lyft arrived, a car without any trunk space! I watched from inside the house as Juan’s agitation grew until the driver told him that he would cancel our order without charging us, and order us another Lyft with trunk space. Two minutes later the second Lyft arrived–a Honda Civic. Juan and the driver crammed  four suitcases into the trunk and Juan left with two of the kids. Meanwhile, I waited with Olivia and Nico for our replacement Lyft. Less than five minutes later our Lyft arrived, a beautiful 7 passenger minivan! The kids and I put in our two suitcases and stretched out in comfort. Meanwhile, we sent Juan a text to tell him we were on our way and would meet him at the airport. He asked if we had leg room. Olivia and I debated if we should tell him the truth, and decided to let him know that had he just taken a breath and waited five minutes we could have been driving together in a comfortable minivan. The response he texted me looked a lot like Juan’s face did earlier:

The only thing this emoji is missing is a throbbing purple vein.

The only thing this emoji is missing is a throbbing purple vein.

Now we are here in Medellin and things are going well, for now.  The kids are generally getting along.  Juan looks a lot happier.

He’s smiling now.

Tomorrow we are venturing out in the city.  We have decided we are going to use Uber.

NaBloPoMo: 30 Days of Blogging About my Ordinary Life

Earlier this week my son Nico saw me at my computer editing a blog post. He had just come out from his room after working on Instagram a school essay. I’m sure he does not understand how anyone could possibly spend their time writing anything that’s not an English class assignment.

Nico asked me, “You’re blogging again? I explained that I was nearing the end of NaBloPoMo, when I post everyday in November. Skeptically, he asked, “Is your life that exciting that you have something to write about every day?”

I didn’t even know how to respond to that until I thought about my November’s daily posts, then I said, “No.”

My life isn’t that exciting and yet I still managed to blog everyday for the last 30 days. In my uneventful life, that in itself is pretty exciting.

I hope it wasn’t too boring for you, and you’ll be back to read more, even if my posts are biweekly instead of daily. Maybe something exciting will happen in my life on my non-blogging days. Maybe not, but I”ll still blog about it. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Now, back to my regularly scheduled life.

Happy December!

Black Friday

After a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. I actually went shopping from about midnight until 3:00 a.m. This probably explains why I wanted to sleep in instead of going to Diego’s soccer tournament today, but I went to cheer him on anyway.

I’m glad I went. Of course, I was exhausted afterwards. Which explains why I was not feeling like going out with my best friends for a birthday celebration. But, I went and had a fantastic time,

November is a busy time. I’m glad it’s almost over. I am writing this with one eye closed. I am so tired I can’t type straight. If it weren’t for NaBloPoMo I would be asleep right now. It sounds like a good idea. Good night.

Date Night

I don’t have time for a long post tonight because Juan and I are having a date night. Today just happens to be one of those times what the planets align and we don’t have any kids at home. My teens are with their other parents and Diego is at his first official slumber party. This means Juan and I get the night off!

You know what that means don’t you? Yes that’s right. Dinner and a movie. We get to go home to an empty house. I’m looking forward to a nice evening and a good night’s sleep. See you tomorrow.

Happy Friday!