A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!
Once upon a time, my high school friend Vicki, who'd gone to Brigham Young for college because it was the cheapest school with great skiing, called me and asked, "What are you doing next year?" I didn't have any good ideas, so when she said, "Let's go to Madison," I answered "Sure. Why not?"
I can't remember if we drove there in her brother's VW Beetle or took the Badger Bus. But we got there, enrolled, and wandered around until we saw an apartment building on Francis Street with a for-rent sign. The manager gave us the names of two girls who were looking for roommates, we talked to one (Mary Hill of Wauwatosa, it turns out), and we signed the lease. A month later we came back, big brother Jack and a U-haul in tow, and moved into The Surf.
Next step: stand in line for what seemed like a couple of days in the stock pavillion or some such place to sign up for the few classes left after everyone had gotten first dibs.
The message was a subliminal one: Well, you're here. Good luck. Sink or swim; it's up to you.
We thought it was pretty great.
Now Geo's going, but what a different world. There's a sophisticated 2-day orientation, Student Orientation Advising and Registration (SOAR). At the end, you walk away with a schedule and maybe, like Geo, a sweet deal on a Mac laptop. They even let you bring your parents--mainly because parents have changed more than the students. While the kids are off with troops of cheerful guides and advisors in red shirts, the parents are being gently deconditioned by warm and experienced professors. "When your student calls to ask you about their schedule," the charmingly crusty retired bursar tells you, "DON'T answer."
The whole room shifts as people try on a new idea; let the kids float with a different flotation device. The school isn't going to let them sink unless they really want to.
Some of it felt like alternate reality. There are no rotary blades on this single parent's back, and I was not the extremely involved parent for whom much of this excellent program was designed. My kids have been managing themselves for some time, and there was no way Geo would even think of calling me to check on his class choices. For one thing, I don't have a cell phone. I was pretty impressed, though, with the parents who seemed to be ready to learn Korean to help their daughter's new roommate.
But what fun. We met great people from places like Little Chute and Edina. All stayed in Liz Waters, where Geo will be living in fall. Slacker and zealous moms alike were throughly worn out with good will and information by 9 pm. The kids lasted a little longer.
I figure if I stumbled through Madison, Geo will do great. The road is much better prepared for him. And in spite of -- or maybe because of -- my limitations, he's ready to roll.