Monday, October 19, 2015

The Clown Car

Driving five teenagers to a weekend youth group event reminded me a little of loading and unloading a clown car.

I drive a Toyota Highlander. It claims to seat seven (including the driver), but that’s only if everyone is small with short legs and if you don’t need trunk space. Five teenagers, including two boys, are not small. Even limiting everyone to one piece of luggage—don’t get me started on how difficult that was—there was barely enough room for everyone. For a moment, I thought I was going to have to drive with items on my lap, or my own kids strapped to the roof.

The teen I made sit in the way back of the car even asked how she was supposed to get out, and it was a legitimate question. But we made it.

Stuffing everyone in, and finally releasing them from the car made me think of other things, though. It kind of reminded me of what we do when we stress. Or at least, what I do.

I have a lot I have to get done. Some of it is my own work, some of it is volunteer work, and a lot of it is for my kids, husband or extended family. It’s very hard to say no, so I just keep cramming it in, not thinking about how it’s going to get done or what I’m going to sacrifice in order to accomplish it.

And then I stress over all of it.

Eventually, one of two things happens. Either I get my to-do list done or I completely freak out about everything that has to be accomplished. Usually, it’s a combination of both. Both methods “empty out the clown car,” but neither one is particularly effective. Or funny. Even when I do cross things off my to-do list, I don’t get the time to appreciate the freedom, but immediately start to add more to the list, to “refill the clown car.”

This tells me a few things:

I need fewer clowns.
They need seatbelts—one per passenger.
I do NOT need a bigger car.

If those “clowns” happen to be teenagers, listen carefully to the conversations. You never know what you’ll find out!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

And We're Off!

We leave for our first college visits tomorrow. Well, technically, we visited a college last April during spring break. So I guess I should say that this is our second set of visits. But this time is different.

For starters, it’s just her and me. Thinking back, I don’t think the two of us have ever taken a trip together by ourselves, so I’m really looking forward to the bonding time. Of course, my luck, she’ll get in the car, put in her ear buds and text her friends the whole ride. But even taking typical teenaged behavior into account, there has to be some point during the four days we’re away that we can talk and spend time together.

We’re heading to one of the major college centers of the country. No, I won’t say where or list specific schools (see my post about that here). But let’s just say, you can’t look at colleges without checking out this part of the country. My daughter being my daughter, she doesn’t think she wants to go to school there, but I’ve told her she has to look at the area before she can say no.

Same goes for the schools we’re looking at. Two of them she’s convinced she won’t like—one it “too big,” the other is “too intellectual.” She may be right on both accounts, but again, I want her to see what a “big school” looks like and a “too intellectual” school looks like before she judges them. Decisions based on Disney movies don’t count. The other two she’s a little more amenable to, but isn’t sure they’re for her. That’s why we’re visiting.

So why are we wasting our time? By the time the weekend is over, she’ll have seen four very different types of schools—based on size, location and types of students. She’ll then have a clear picture in her mind what a city campus looks like versus a campus in a college town versus a small school versus a large school. She’ll be able to make future decisions based on what she has seen, rather than what others have told her, or what a file on a computer has said. She’ll have things to compare.

And in between, we’ll shop, check out some good restaurants, visit friends and family who live nearby, and try to turn a potentially stressful time into a mini-vacation. All while I keep track of my snarky observations for a future blog post! J