It seems like just the other day I lamented about the change in our lives brought on by the return of our two college students. We have experienced this migration and disruption for several years now. The expected total change in lifestyle took place through the summer, but with a little more calm. I guess that is part of the kids being 21 and having jobs and maybe finding they enjoy mornings more? Not sure…but as the summer has gone on we have had to start to see our lives change even more significantly. Our two 18 year olds would also be leaving. One to Purdue. The other had a decision to make. He is our hockey goalie and despite my ranting and raving about the world of hockey when kids reach this age…it didn’t change anything. He wants to play in college and the colleges like the players to spend an extra year in what is called Juniors. Tryouts ensued and as the summer rolled on it became clear that his selection, and the best choice for his development as a hockey player and young man, was 2300 miles away in a place we have never been..Medford Oregon.
How do you move a soon to be 19 year old boy across the country? We spent the summer on that one. Fortunately we discovered that he qualified for on- line classes from Indiana University. We really wanted him to not just sleep and play hockey. Starting his college classes and having the most flexibility for the future was our goal. Being the partisan that I am I must brag… Indiana University offered the solution. So we can officially also now say we have four in college! Bragging rights is what this game is all about! Look..we are much more broke than you are!
So, three at Purdue and one going to Indiana University while living in Oregon! While I am not sure this fully qualifies that I finally got one of my kids to go to my school, at least for a semester, I can feel a little better about how the college savings flow. If you know anybody who has saved enough to have four kids in college in the same year they have likely either 1. inherited wealth, 2. won the lottery, or 3. sacrificed for years. We fall under #3. Maybe this helps a little more to explain my conservatism? Not an excuse…but a lifestyle choice.
So, the point today is that 30 minutes ago, our son and my wife hopped in his Chevy Silverado to make the trek across country. My first observation is thank goodness he is a boy. He is able to move himself and make decisions I have never seen our girls make. Travel light. I carried Jennifer’s suitcase downstairs and realized she would pay the suitcase up-charge if she was flying. She took up 25% of his cargo space and she flies back in a week! He was lighthearted about it. He knows his Mom and had saved plenty of room in the covered truck bed for her (suitcase that is)! Our 8 year old son said his goodbyes and I know I was about to lose it. I hugged our hockey player/IU student and told him I am proud of him. I do not believe I could have ever made the decision he made at his age. As Mom and I said our goodbyes, her face full of tears, I realized just how hard this was going to be for her. Not the three day drive, but leaving her baby boy so far from home. This is not a one hour drive to Purdue!
On Thursday I will have a U Haul truck loaded up to deliver the rest of our girls to Purdue. When I return it will be the 8 year old and me until Mom comes home. Then it will be just three of us in a house that is now too large for three, but needs to be able to accommodate seven. The kids do migrate home. Then they fly the coop again. It is a stage of life. One between needs and support, and total independence. It is a time of growth and excitement, and a heart tug that can’t be described unless you are a parent experiencing it. The birds have flown from the nest again. It is quiet.
For some reason, I am sad.
Not intentionally, but simply because I got a jump on an end of season task.
As I have mentioned before, our little burb has quite the light display courtesy of about 90% participation from all Christmas celebrating families. We also have large trees bordering the street and the tradition is they are wrapped in white lights-as high as one can reach with an 11 foot light pole (available at Target right now for $15.99)! It is beautiful and our street becomes a must see for Christmas light seekers. Cars slowly creep down our street all December, annoying us residents who simply want to get home at the posted speed limit.
There are no rules or regulations for how to participate. We are a 20 year old neighborhood and new residents catch on quickly. When they stop by the summer cookouts and somebody asks them..”hey..you got a pretty good stock of white outdoor lights and a hanging pole don’t you?” they start to get indoctrinated. Actually, at these same get-togethers, many of us start to contemplate how we can end this labor of love that starts every Thanksgiving. Cutting down the trees seems like the only idea anybody really has since the peer pressure is so high.
So, our community light display is a rather unstructured participation with little rules other than white lights on your street trees. There is no rule as to when the lights go off, though typically they start getting shut down New Years day. In May, I still observe trees full of lights..just not being turned on at night. I have never done that but it seems once the trees are full of leaves you will never get those lights out.
Yesterday afternoon produced sunshine and 50 degrees. Being accustomed to freezing my hands and other body parts off taking the lights down, I decided it was time to end our family participation in this ritual. Next week could bring snow, ice and who knows what other pitiful Indiana weather extremes but not Thursday December 29. Over the course of the three hours it takes to bring down the entire display, cars crept by slowly giving me the look of disappointment…possibly questioning my loyalty to the program. I started to believe they were calling me Scrooge from inside their cars. How could I create this opening in the beautiful path of lights?
The truth be known, I bet secretly they were all envious they had not thought of this first. It is pouring rain today, and by Sunday it will be in the 20’s. As the cars drove slowly down the street last night I could hear them actually accelerate as they came to our home. Next year they will go looking for lights before Christmas since it appears people shut down this show early. The neighbors will likely watch out for a nice day and get those lights down also. A trend has started. Either that or my social expulsion from my nighborhood for betrayal of the unwritten Christmas light rules. So
Happy New Year everybody!