Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Continuing Art of Letting Your Child Go

Yes, the Lawrence campus is this pretty.
This past week-end I went to Appleton, Wisconsin to visit my daughter at her new home-away-from-home, Lawrence University.  We hadn't seen each other since that day in early September when I helped establish her into her dorm room.  Jo and I have always been extremely close (as long as you discount those first weeks in China when she eyed me with a certain degree of loathing), and this time apart has been hard for both of us.

That aside, my girl is settling in beautifully.  She has become friends with some charming young women (I wrote girls, but then remembered to delete.  My daughter might read this.).  I know I wasn't that poised at age 18.  She enjoys her classes, although she admits that the expectations are very high.  She is even juggling a number of on-campus jobs. Would I have ever had the nerve to accept a job as a telemarketer???  "But Mom, I get to wear a headset!"  What a geek.

Not Jo, but what she might feel like after 5 hours of calls.

It has been a while since I spent time on a college campus hanging with underclassmen.  In recent years when I take my required continuing education credits for my teaching license, my classmates are other teachers in various stages of mental and physical decline. Being around such an amount of youth jogs my memories of an earlier time.  Some things seem so familiar, but yet today's university experience is very different from my own--back in the day when we slugged around stone tablets and chisels to write our term papers.

Yikes, these late teens sleep a lot, and now with no parents to dictate, micro-manage, and scold, they sleep even more.  Granted I am sure that they aren't ready for bed by 10, but I wonder if some see the sun during the week-ends.  Did I spend a good portion of my week-ends in dreamland?  I don't remember it, but if Mom were still alive, she might enlighten me.  I do seem to have a vague recollection of eating breakfast at 3 in the afternoon. 

David Hasselhoff as Snapper Foster--memories!
I'd even jog so I wouldn't miss his pretty face.

The young ladies I was with certainly seemed to be much more health conscious than I ever was at that age.  They talk about their exercise regimes.  As a freshman, my regime was walking from my history lecture hall to the union at a fast pace so I wouldn't miss the beginning of The Young and the Restless.  Going to the gym?  Hiking on the river trail?  Joining an intramural volleyball team?  It never crossed my mind.  And as they talk about their athletic endeavors, they seem to view them with enjoyment rather than dread--like a social event.  Who would of thunk that running on a treadmill could be turned into a party?
As Prairie Eydie would say, "Yummers."
And then there is the university cafeteria.  Where are the steam tables of greyish mashed potatoes and meat substance floating in gravy?  How about the iceberg lettuce with dried carrot shavings and the bowl of phosphorescent french dressing ?  The hockey puck hamburgers on damp buns? Welcome to 2013! How about thin rice noodles tossed with a light soy ginger sauce and shrimp.  Hungry for pizza?  Do you want arugula with fresh mozarella or roasted baby beets on your thin crust?  Longing for home fare?  A cider pork stew served with a buttery polenta and fresh green beans sauteed with equally fresh mushrooms might be just right.  No wonder my daughter was a bit disappointed with our restaurant breakfast on Sunday morning.  As she poked at her rubbery french toast, she sighed, "Lawrence makes a really great Sunday brunch."

If this guy would have been sleeping
in that lounge, Jo would have been
coming home with Mommy.
Dorms?  Pretty much the same as in 1975.  They're are really small, a bit scruffy, and the bathrooms look like they could be in a prison.  The lounges are filled with low-esteem furniture wallowing in self-pity.  The lounges also seem to contain the same group of characters who took up residence in the mid 70's--hollow-eyed youth that either never found their dorm rooms on September 10th or can't remember how to get back there.  Do they ever leave those sagging chairs?  They are proof that at age 19, you can sleep anywhere.

I didn't look too hard for the sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Ignorance is bliss. I am sure all the darling co-eds I met only think virginal thoughts.  The students of Lawrence are obviously operating on a much higher plane of intellectual enlightenment than the UW-EC Class of 1979.  And if they're not, I don't want to know about it.  I don't sleep much past 5 am, and I want to enjoy the few hours I do get.

Prairie Sherry   


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