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Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

College update from M

M phoned last night, for the first time since early September, so we got to hear loads of good details about college that never make it into our usual brief, disjointed, text conversations.

In no particular order:

-He’ll be going on a “get out the vote” trip to Pennsylvania with the college Democrats group, in the days right before the election. I’m hoping it will be a valuable learning experience for him, a good way to make more friends, and help to swing that state a little more blue, for both presidential and congressional races.

-The food truck parked on his street is open 24/7. This is why he could get fish and rice at 12:45 in the morning.

-He and a friend went to see a taping of John Oliver, and really enjoyed the experience.

-Classes are going well, yesterday’s midterm went well, and he was sorting out something about class registration. He seemed to have it all under control, despite taking a rather heavy course load.

-His dorm room has cockroaches. We emphasized he really needed to report that. He seemed to know how to do so.

-He’s gone to a couple different art museums (I think as part of his art class assignments), and really liked seeing Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” in person. He also learned that when museums are 30 blocks apart, it’s a really long walk, and would be better to take the subway.

-He’s gotten moderately lost in the NYC subway system, but in general is figuring it out OK.

-We asked about his class schedule on the day before Thanksgiving, then clarified for him that Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday, not Friday. He’s got to check on a couple classes, but we’re getting closer to being able to buy a bus ticket for him to come home.

Because it will be very good to see him again, and hear even more about what he’s been up to. And I’m sure he’ll appreciate sleeping somewhere without cockroaches.

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We haven’t heard anything from M since we said good-bye after moving him down to college on Tuesday. But E happened to chat with the neighbor kid yesterday after his first day of school. So at least we know 7th grade is going great.

And we’re assuming things are going equally well with M, in part because we haven’t heard from him. Move-in went much more smoothly than expected. Roommates were nice and dorm room was the largest we’ve ever seen. M managed to find his way around the campus/neighborhood well enough to take care of a couple different tasks by himself. And after we said good-bye, we saw him at the welcome session comfortably chatting with a group of students that included his two roommates and several other transfer students. Such a wonderful difference to see how confident he is this time around, despite the unfamiliar setting, compared to last year’s weepy good-bye and anxious texts later that evening!

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Going into M’s first year of college, he had the usual freshmen angst about contacting his roommate after getting the housing assignment. What should he write, how to write it, not to seem too eager, not to seem too weird, etc. But with some parental nudges, he did eventually manage to communicate well enough to agree that M would bring a microwave for their dorm room, while the roommate could bring a minifridge.

So we bought him a microwave and drove it out to college with all his other stuff. He hauled it up 2 flights of stairs. He used it occasionally throughout the year. We packed it back up in May, he hauled it down 2 flights of stairs, we drove home, and he hauled the microwave into his bedroom, where it’s been sitting on the floor ever since.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. He got his sophomore housing assignment, and it’s essentially a studio apartment shared with 2 other guys. Their kitchen nook should have a sink, stove, and fridge, but anything else is presumably up to them. A few days later, we had the following conversation:

M: “I was Facebook messaging with my roommates.” (No angst this time around, thank goodness.)

Me: “Good! Did the topic of a microwave come up?”

M: “Yeah. Do we have a microwave I can bring?”

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M: If a burner is making a hissing noise could that be a gas leak? 

Me: No, because we have an electric stove.

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Raised by wolves

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Over the years, there has been a lot of arguing and many studies about how kids raised by LGBTQ parents turn out. I’m pleased that, by 2016, the many reputable studies have mostly managed to drown out the biased flawed ones, and a majority of people have stopped seeing this as a point worth debating. Nevertheless, as someone whose child is now 18 and a legal adult, I thought I’d like to share how this child raised by 2 lesbians has turned out.

Drum roll please…

On the plus side, he is:
– Compassionate
– Intelligent
– Hard-working
– Creative
– Helpful
– Loving

On the minus side, he has:
– Hygiene habits that would make strangers suspect he’d been raised by wolves

Let’s elaborate on that last item a little bit. It became fully apparent when we helped him move home from the dorm last month, at the end of freshman year. The mouthwash was still as carefully wrapped up as when he’d moved there in August. The 8-pack of bar soap and 4-pack of washcloths were still neatly packaged. The 32-load jug of laundry detergent lasted him all year and was still 2/3 full. He’d discarded his fitted sheet after a nasty bout of stomach flu in late winter, then spent the rest of the year sleeping on a mattress pad rather than put on the spare fitted sheet. And while he’d washed his clothes prior to packing them, it was 400 miles and 24 hours later that we discovered he’d packed his damp dirty bath towel in with them.

We really did spend many years teaching this kid about cleanliness and hygiene. But clearly, we might as well have been a couple of howling wolves.

However, we mostly focus on the plus side, where I suspect our parenting was vastly superior to the wolves. After all, how many wolves have a kid who was accepted as a transfer student at an Ivy League college, due to things like stellar academics and an essay about 10 years of volunteering at the local soup kitchen? How many wolves have a kid who was named “counselor of the year” at camp one summer, then hired to be counselor-coordinator the next?

And how many wolves have a kid who, when he comes home from a late night out with friends, leaves a really sweet note for his moms to find the next morning on the kitchen table, saying that he loves us and that he hopes we have a good day at work?

These lesbian wolves are very, very happy with how he’s turned out.

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While M has enjoyed many social and extracurricular aspects of his first year of college, he has been disappointed in regards to the department he’s majoring in, both the classes he’s taken and related opportunities available.

He muttered briefly about wanting to transfer when he was home at Thanksgiving. We couldn’t tell if it was general freshman transitional angst or not. He muttered again briefly at Christmas. Again, hard to tell how serious he was. And then, in late February, a week before most transfer applications were due, he decided to go for it. 

Let me inject some parental irony here. When he applied to colleges as a high school senior, he had copious amounts of help to make sure everything went as smoothly as possible. E and I drove him to countless tours and info sessions and several interviews. We kept a spreadsheet on the fridge to make sure everything got done in a timely fashion. A family friend worked with him to hone his long essay. His guidance counselor made sure transcript and recommendations all went through electronically. And ultimately he got into 3 good colleges, but not either of the Ivies he’d really been hoping for.

This time around, the entire process was on him, and was a lot more complex and problematic. One college misplaced his mailed transcript; another misplaced his mailed midterm report. One professor forgot to write a recommendation for a month. He drove himself to tour and interview at one school.

And the end result? M was accepted at 4 colleges, including 2 of the Ivies he applied to. Wow! That extra year of maturity, and actual college experience, clearly made him much better able to articulate who he is, and what he aspires to, and why a top-tier college should want to help him get there.  

And ultimately it came down to a choice between Columbia and Brown.

We took a whirlwind day trip to NYC since he’d never visited Columbia before, and they had a special visit day for accepted transfer students. He traveled to Brown by himself for a revisit, since he hadn’t seen that campus in almost 3 years. 

And after much thought, he finally made what is probably the toughest choice he’s ever had to make. 

Columbia, here he comes!

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Mother’s Day

At 8:00 in the morning we met up with M outside his dorm. (We’d driven out to Rochester the day before.) He took us to breakfast in the college cafeteria, where E and I enjoyed watching a couple of groundhogs sun themselves on the lawn outside the window. M was very patient with the fact he had to be awake at such a ridiculously early hour, never mind listen to parental running commentary on the groundhog activity.

We got back to his dorm and helped him finish packing up his stuff. We had previously asked that M do as much laundry as possible ahead of time, since our washer drain is problematic, and who wants to spend 7 hours in a car full of dirty laundry. Well, he had indeed laundered almost all his clothes, and had already packed them — woohoo! We threw out a few items, including a stained pillow, and a mattress pad that had been used all year evidently without a sheet. We were amused to note a number of other pillows already in the dorm’s trash room. And then we loaded everything else into the car.

He checked out of the dorm and we were on the road by 10:18. He was asleep before we reached the highway.

Freshman year is DONE!

Updated to add: just discovered that he had packed his damp towel in one of the bags of clean clothes. Oh well!

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