The Day My Son Almost Got on a Plane Alone Without His Cellphone

Early Sunday morning we dropped Chandler off at the airport for an overnight trip to Washington D.C. Yep that’s right, 2700 miles across the country and back in 36 hours so he could check out a college that’s much too far from home in my opinion. (What if he meets a girl there. And marries her. And never comes home!) I watched him walk away then looked to see if he forgot anything and saw his phone on the backseat.

His phone.

cell phone
Oops!

Dave hopped out of the car and called him before he went inside the terminal. As he handed over the phone Chandler said, “That would be bad.”

Yes it would.

Nobody was picking up Chandler at the airport in DC. He was taking the Metro to the university he was visiting and meeting the student whose dorm he was staying in. The student was going to text Chandler where to meet him. Without his phone that meeting would have been close to impossible.

It’s crazy how dependent we’ve become on our phones. Why look something up on a map when your phone is equipped with a high-tech GPS navigation system? Traffic on the freeway? No need to wait ten minutes for an update on news radio, just check out Waze for an alternate route. Your toddler bored in line at the market? Hand her your phone so she can play a game and stop whining about it. Email, Facebook, your camera, hell even a flashlight – all on your phone.

And when we need to get in touch with someone? Instead of calling them we text. Ironically our dependence on cellphones has made actually talking on the phone nearly obsolete.

Dave and I tried to speculate what would have happened if I hadn’t seen the phone. When would Chandler have noticed and what would he have done? He’s really responsible and leaving his phone behind is out of character for him. I’m sure he was just distracted, maybe a bit nervous about his trip. But I worried, was this kid really ready to go away to school?

I don’t think I’m as dependent on my phone as most people seem to be. I rarely use it check my email or Facebook or Twitter status. I’m terrible at texting. In fact, I forget my phone all the time.

But I will admit that I am dependent on my kids having their phones. I like to keep tabs and keep them close. We used to have Chandler text us when he got to his destination when he first started driving. And we still ask him to text us when he’s on his way home.

When we got home from the airport I told Marley what happened and then said, “I think at dinner this week we’ll have to have a discussion about this and what you guys would do if you were traveling alone and didn’t have your phone.”

She rolled her eyes. “Really, Mom? I’d just find a mom or an an airport employee and tell them I was a lost little girl and could I please borrow their phone to call my mommy.”

I met  her eye roll with a sigh. I suppose she would. That girl’s got some street smarts. (As most girls do.) But would Chandler? I wan’t so sure.

After he got home I did ask him what he would have done. He shrugged, “It depends when I noticed.”

“What if you noticed before you got on the plane?” I asked.

“I’d use someone’s phone to call you or call my phone.”

“What if you noticed after you were on the plane and it was too late to get your phone back?”

“I’d find a way to call you when I got to DC then take the metro to the school. He texted me. You could have read me his text.”

“But Chandler,” I said, “what if your phone wasn’t in the car? What if you lost your phone?”

He shrugged again. “But I didn’t, Mom.”

No, he didn’t. I don’t know why I was skeptical that he’d know what to do. He is eighteen. And he’s smart. (Plus, am an awesome mom.) It would have been inconvenient for him not to have his phone. Perhaps even difficult. But like all of us when we forget our phones, he would have survived.

And I probably would have too.

What I Learned in 2014 (And Other Things)

2014

Some years I learn a lot. Most years I am greatly reminded of things I already know. This year was a bit of a mix. But whether I learned it or already knew it, here are some things (as Oprah would say) I know for sure…

Being married for 20 years is an accomplishment to be proud of. (And not for wimps.)

The mama bear instinct to protect your child when an injustice is done to them does not wane as your child approaches adulthood. If anything it becomes even more fierce.

Parenting a teenage girl is also not for wimps. (And probably why wine was invented.)

I can run a 10K (and  not die).

Middle school sucks.

Helping your child through the college application process is more stressful and overwhelming than can possibly be imagined. (And must be added to the list of things that is not for wimps.)

The joy of reconnecting with an old friend should not be underestimated.

The most wonderful blessing can come from what at first appeared to be an unfortunate situation.

 

High points of 2014…

A trip to Paso Robles to celebrate our 20 year anniversary (with lots of wine).

A crazy 3 1/2 day college tour road trip that covered 1,365 miles. (Yes, you read that right. 1,365 miles in 3 days. In a car.)

A girls’ trip to my family’s lake house in Michigan. We did nothing but lie in the sun, float on the lake, drink wine and eat.

A trip to Fresno (yes Fresno!) to watch Chandler run in the 2014 Cross Country State Championship race. He ran the race of his life and his team placed 2nd. A proud mama moment for sure.

My two favorite books in 2014

Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan

This is a beautiful memoir about the mother-daughter relationship told through the eyes of Corrigan as she remembers an around-the-world trip in her early twenties when she ran out of money and got a job as a nanny in Australia for a recent widower’s children. It is laugh-out-loud funny, heart wrenching and heart braking.  At the end of every short, wonderful chapter I would say to myself (often while crying), “I wish I could write like that.” Trust me when I say, that you will love this book.

 

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

I loved this book so much. It shifts through time both before and after the apocalypse caused by a flu killing 99.9% of humanity. But it is less about the apocalypse and more about being stuck. One of the main themes of this tale (taken from a Star Trek episode) is “survival is insufficient.” That art must be experienced and appreciated and that we must live our lives to the fullest.

Here’s to wishing your 2015 is lived to its fullest.

Happy New Year!

(P.S. I’d love to hear about something you learned or loved in 2014.)

 

 

 

Road Trip: Next Stop – College

GOOD LUCK with the college visits. My heart is soaring and sniffling for you, my friend Julie emailed me before we left for our Memorial Day weekend college tour road trip. She nailed it. (As she always does.) In one year and two weeks Chandler will be graduating high school. Two months after that he’ll be heading off to college. Out of our home forever. Or at least until Thanksgiving break. My heart is indeed soaring and sniffling all at once.

Teaching him how to tie his shoes, how to cook (or at least how to make a grilled cheese sandwich), and (especially) how to properly clean a toilet has all led up my casting him off into the world to survive and thrive outside of our household. It’s enough to make me want to vomit. Happy vomit of course. If there is such a thing.

Thursday afternoon, right after the kids got home from school, we left on a 1400+ mile, three day road trip to visit three universities. Go big or go home right? (Or rather stay home in this instance.)

 

First Stop UCSC

Chandler wanted to start off driving so I buckled down in the back seat with a semi-cranky why-do-I-even-have-to-go-on-this-stupid-college-tour-trip Marley. We battled Santa Barbara traffic, chowed on Double Double’s in Atascadero, and arrived in Santa Cruz about six hours later.

back-seat-of-car
Hangin’ in the back.

 

We can’t afford two rooms -in fact this was a budget travel trip with coolers packed full of sandwich-makings and our rooms booked on Priceline– so we slept boys in one bed and girls in the other since our children refuse to sleep together. We weren’t expecting much from our $50/night 2-star hotel, but it was clean, had enough towels, and the free breakfast included a make-your-own waffle station, so we deemed it a success. (Even though the coffee -if you could even call it that- was incredibly weak.)

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the university and didn’t know if Chandler would really like it or not. We chose UCSC because of the D3 athletic program (Chandler wants to compete in college athletics, but isn’t sure he want to at a D1 level), the majors it offers, and the beautiful location. But it has a reputation for being a bit of a hippie school and Chandler is 0% hippie. Well, he’s an environmentally-minded liberal, but a buttoned-down, rule-following, environmentally-minded liberal.

The campus was amazingly beautiful. It felt more like a mountain resort than a university.

UCSC
This feels more like a vacation than school!

 

“I think going here would be great,” Chandler said to me halfway through the tour. “I love everything about this school, except for this view.”

UCSC Beach View
Yeah, this view sucks!

 

“You’re crazy,” I told him. “The view is amazing.”

“Yeah, but the school looks like it’s in a forest and the view of the ocean doesn’t really fit.”

(Have I ever mentioned that Chandler is a little quirky?)

 

UCSC trees
Trees like this cover the campus of UCSC.

 

In my world forest meets ocean equals perfection. But apparently in Chandler’s world forest meets ocean breaks some kind of rule. And as I said, he’s a rule-follower. Wow, is college going to be an eye-opening experience for him.

 

Second Stop Humboldt State

You might think that taking our 0%-hippie, rule-following, buttoned-down, quirky son to Humboldt State with its reputation of schooling hippies with a capital “H” an odd choice. Possibly. But we do want Chandler to consider a state school. And since he has expressed a possible interest in environmental studies, apparently wants to go to school in some sort of forest, and would like to attend college out-of-state, we though that Humboldt -which is an environmentalist’s wet dream, has a 20,000 square foot forest attached to it, and is closer to Seattle than to Los Angeles- deserved a look. Plus we thought the idea of embarking on a seven hour, 356-mile journey that included driving through San Francisco at 5PM on the Friday of a three-day weekend sounded like lots of fun.

The two things (semi-cranky why-do-I-even-have-to-go-on-this-stupid-college-tour-trip) Marley requested of this trip was to see the Golden Gate Bridge and to swim in a hotel pool. Of course it is our goal in life to bitterly disappoint her (just ask her), so we made sure that even though we had to cross the bridge she couldn’t really see it.

Golden-Gate-Bridge-Fogged-in

 

We arrived in Arcata close to midnight, two hours after the pool closed, screwing Marley once again, and headed straight to bed.

Our tour of Humboldt didn’t start until noon, so after more waffles and weak coffee we decided to check out the town of Arcata and happened upon the 45th Annual Kinetic Grand Championship taking place in the town square.

What is that you ask? It is a 3-day, 42-mile bike race over land, sand, mud and water. Which means one must convert their “bike” to be able to successfully handle land, sand, mud and water.

kinetic sculpture bike

 

And the crazier the conversion, the better.

pig-kinetic-sculpture

 

Coincidentally I went to this race with my mom and brother 31 years ago with a “why-do-I-have-to-go-on-this-stupid-trip-on-a-holiday-weekend” attitude and ended up having an incredible time, so I was thrilled to happen upon it again. Unfortunately Marley was even more determined than me (at the peak of my teenaged surliness, I might add) to hate everything about our trip and sat on a bench claiming the kinetic sculpture race lame. But she later told my mom it was “kind of cool,” so while not as big a win as make-your-own waffles, I’ll take it as a minor victory.

 

shark-sculpture
This sculpture was called “Bite Me.”

 

After our tour of Humboldt, Chandler met with a coach and liked him a lot. He also liked the dorms.

Dorms-at-Humboldt-State
Yeah, I could see Chandler living here.

 

Marley loved Humboldt and decided she must go there. Plus we went to a really cool record store where she bought two posters (bonus – one of them I absolutely hate) and we both claimed the Ryan Gosling doppelganger who rang us up super cute.

 

Third Stop: UC Davis

After leaving Humboldt we drove three hours to Red Bluff with me taking most of the time behind the wheel. We got there in plenty of time to enjoy cheap delicious Mexican food from a place called La Corona (thank you Yelp) with a big ol’ margarita for me (hazzah!) and plenty of pool time for Marley after dinner. (So, Marley found her future college, talked to a cute -way-too-old-for-her- boy, and got to swim all in one day. Maybe Dave and I aren’t the worst parents in the world after all.)

margarita
It looks a little toxic, but it was pretty damn good!

 

Chandler popped out of bed at seven o’clock on Sunday morning ready to head down to the make-your-own waffle station before it got too crowded prompting us to get shaking and get started with our day. He was mostly excited to visit the Capital in Sacramento, but our first stop was Davis. I think he may have been overwhelmed by its size. And while there were plenty of trees, it was certainly no forest. He did not love it. But they have a viticulture and enology major (translation wine making), so it is my new goal in life to change Chandler’s mind and have him go to Davis. I think he owes me that.

UC Davis
The Mondavi Performing Arts Center at UC Davis

After touring Davis we took a tour of the Capital building and Chandler was in heaven. I know I’ve stated that he’s expressed an interest in the environment, and that is true, but he loves history so much, I think his calling is probably political science. With a minor in viticulture and enology environmental studies. Maybe.

After touring the Capital we had a (very) late lunch at a dive bar on the Delta called Wimpy’s where I was once accidentally abandoned Home-Alone-style by my family when I was a teenager. (That is a true story, but a story for another time.)

Then we headed home.

We’ve now toured five colleges total. I hope to have Chandler tour at least five more. This next year will no doubt, like his entire childhood, go by at warp speed. Six months from now his college applications will be complete. Ten months from now all of the acceptance (and rejection) letters will have arrived. Eleven months from now his decision will have been made. Fourteen months from now my son will be going off to college.

My heart is soaring and sniffling.