Saturday, December 06, 2008

College Visit

A number of years ago when our son J was a senior in high school, he visited a number of colleges trying to decide which college he would attend. One of the schools he was interested in was in northwestern Iowa about a ten-hour drive away. If memory serves me correctly both he and his younger brother and younger sister had a Thursday and Friday off school. We decided that it would be a nice idea if the three children and I drove to Iowa leaving their mother at home giving her some time to herself. I called my parents, who lived in the middle of Iowa, and arranged for my father to meet us at a rest stop on Interstate 80. The plan was to have the younger two spend a couple days with their grandparents while J and I checked out this college J had express interest in.

On Wednesday night we placed our suitcases in the van. Then early Thursday morning I quietly woke the three children up. I think it was either 3:30 or 4:30 in the morning when we crept out of the house trying not to wake their mother up. I remember we all were excited to be on a mini-vacation. Also I was hoping to allow P’s time alone to begin the moment she woke up. However, like a lot of plans this one didn’t go as I had intended because when I closed the door to the house P heard it close and woke up.

I drove for the first hour before stopping and allowing J. to drive. He and I then shared the driving responsibility for the remainder of the trip. About mid-morning we met my father at a rest stop, the younger two children started their own separate vacation at their grandparents, and J and I continued on our journey to northwestern Iowa. I must say that spending hours in a car with one of your teenage children on the way to visit a college allows you the opportunity to talk. We had taken along a number of “A Prairie Home Companion” tapes. As we listened to Garrison Keillor’s monologues we talked about the subject these monologues brought to mind.

About one hour before arriving at the college as day turned into evening it started raining. By this time we were both tired from the early rising time and driving all day. I remember how glad we both were to arrive at the college. While J stayed in one of the dorms that night, I spent the night in a local motel. On Friday, J visited some of the classes and talked to various people from the college, and I spent the day listening to various people from the college. As the visiting students were told how great this college was and how they would enjoy spending their college years here, the parents were told why we should send our children to this college, what the cost of the tuition, room and board, and other expenses would be. I did manage to spend some time with one of my nieces who was attending this college and spent some time with my 8th grade teacher who now was a professor at this college.

By mid afternoon J and I were on our way once again. This we drove the Iowa state highways across the northern part of Iowa. We were heading to my sister F and brother in-law R where we planned on staying the night and the next day. When we arrived, my sister M, who lived nearby, and family were there also. As I remember it, it was an evening of pizza and catching up on each other’s news.

I spent the next day visiting with my sister F while J spent the day helping his uncle R, who has his own electrician business.

Early Sunday morning, but not as early as we when we left home, J and I left to drive to my parents in order to pick up the younger two children. After having lunch with my parents, the four of us started the trip home. It was during this part of the drive that the two younger children talked and talked telling us all about their stay at their grandparents. The highlight of their stay seemed to be when Grandma let them play in the creek at the back the yard. We would never allow the children to play in the creek whenever we visited, however, my mother grew up on a farm in Michigan and thought children should be allowed to explore. So while my father was conducting a wedding one afternoon Grandma allowed the two grandkids to explore the mysteries of the creek.

Even though J decided not to attend that college, all these years later the four of us still talk about that mini-vacation.