[Post disclaimer: this is about our first college road trip. My daughter hasn’t decided on her list just yet. To respect her privacy, no schools/locations will be mentioned by name.]
Packing, planning. Today we’re getting ready for another great adventure. This one is going to be BIG. I think it’s the biggest – or at the very least the most important – excursion we’ll take. Welcome to College Road Trip, #1!
As I double check details on the itinerary, I can’t help but think about our daughter’s first day of Pre-K. We brought our baby girl, dressed in one of my favorite outfits: little wide-legged jeans and a white peasant style blouse. It had tiny embroidered flowers on it. Her hair was bobbed, with bangs. She could not have looked cuter. Anyway, there we were. Parents nervously milling around the edges of the classroom. Our children moved from brightly-colored station to brightly-colored station: pretend play, blocks, books. Every now and again, she would ask us, “is she my friend?” “Is he my friend?” about her new classmates.
A little while into the day, she spotted what would ultimately play a huge part in her story thus far: “They have easels!” Her smile. As the teacher handed her a smock and a paintbrush. The joy on her face! “Look at my picture! I’m making it for you.” Every once in a while, she’d stop and look back at us, smiling and talking to the little girl on her left.
And that was that. I knew she’d be fine. ❤
My husband hoped to have us out the door and on the road by 7:30. We were locking our front door by 8:30, waaaaaaay better than I ever thought we could manage. Of course my suitcase was THE most overpacked, ridiculous and super heavy of our three bags. My husband never complains though. I could open a Walgreens store out of my suitcase. It’s beyond silly. But I have this fear of not having something we need, that we won’t easily find a store to get the item. So I stock up for our trips like there’s no tomorrow. (Sigh). Meanwhile, everyone uses most of the “stuff” I bring, so it never goes to waste. Maybe I’m just a brilliant suitcase whisperer! 😂 Maybe I’ll just keep telling myself that, LOL.
We arrive, after just a few hours of very little traffic.
We spend the evening walking around the town, noticing details on houses and local businesses. She seems at ease, taking it all in. I imagine the conversations going through each of our heads. “Can she see herself here?” “What would it be like to walk around here, in different seasons? At night?” “Will she be happy here?” Ok, these are the thoughts in my head. I admit it.
I don’t know the answers. I’ll have to confer with the imagined conversations in their heads to know for sure. But I can say this, it was an overwhelmingly positive evening.
School #1. Impress me! Actually, impress her. Wow her with your courses and plans for her future.
I want everything for my daughter. As someone with a chronic illness, I can honestly say that RSD robbed me of many moments with her. The pain, the fatigue – all of it affected my parenting. So, now, as I look at this young woman walking alongside me, I’m desperate to say to our lovely tour guides, “If you’re lucky enough to get her, make it amazing.” But I can’t. So I observe and listen and take mental notes along the way.
Another good day. And, in the morning, we’ll be off again.
Another city, another show. I mean school! I mentioned to my husband that I felt like a band, going city to city and state to state. It’s a little bit crazy! Except we’re our own roadies, and that’s not fun.
What IS fun, however, is exploring this new local with our gal. She hasn’t been here before. It’s so cool to introduce a favorite place to her.
We ate delicious meals and managed to find a nice Panera Bread. It’s become our anti-road food place. We’ve been on long car trips when we could only find the basic fast food and easy meals. By the end, we all feel kind of gross and can’t wait to eat better things. This time, Panera Bread came to the rescue. Lighter meals, fresher food. It’s better all the way around.
We take mass transit to the school. Initially, none of us felt sure of it. But, after taking a great tour with a really sweet student, all minds were changed. I’m so glad we spent more time there. Who knows if this place will make the cut??
Today we opted to really make the trip count by visiting TWO schools in one day. Both were incredible. We heard a lot of information in both places. I feel exceedingly well-informed about colleges taking a “holistic approach” to accepting new students. That is a phrase we’re hearing a lot this week. Basically, they’re not relying on test scores alone. They’re taking everything about our kids into account. I love that. Test scores don’t tell the whole story about a student. They just show whether or not someone can take a test like that. This is just my opinion.
All of the walking is taking a toll on my right knee and back. I’m so sore. We’ve managed to take every set of stairs on each campus, for three days. At least that’s what it feels like, LOL. And the rain – during our walk around both campuses – well, not even bad weather could ruin this wonderful day.
Bless you Panera Bread! And our friends at the local Starbucks. Coffee! Coffee! Coffee!
Today we drove. And drove. And managed to see signs saying “Moose Crossing – Stay Alert.” Seriously?!? We are officially NOT in Kansas anymore.
Be kind to one another.
Peace and painlessness,