2011.03.02 High school sophomore will be a college graduate

Written by David Green.

I find it shocking that the following column was written six years ago, when Maddie was a high school sophomore. She is now poised to graduate from college in April and Rosie is about to have a baby. Oh, Rosie. Enjoy them while they’re young because they grow up so fast...and then they think you don’t know crap.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

During short term at Berea College, where my daughter Rozee is a freshman, students take only one class for the entire month of January. Some classes are normal college requirements, others are a little on the bizarre side like Rozee’s selection—Visions and Nightmares: Utopias and Dystopias in Fiction, Film and Fact—which included a trip to Virginia and Maryland to visit “intentional communities” otherwise known as hippie communes. 

Short term is known for its more relaxed atmosphere and opportunity to try new things like salsa dancing, for example, or to trek to Virginia to feed teenage cows and freeze in your sleep in front of a fire that spits ashes and smoke. 

Then there is a five day break. Maddie and I traveled to Berea to pick Rozee up for her break—five days of more relaxation and visits to her orthodontist and periodontist in her never-ending dental saga.

I was anxious to get her home. At the first commune she had sent hastily written emails about her trip: terrible bloody nose, infected knee, freezing cold even while wearing several layers and a coat—indoors. And then came the cell phone calls about her vomiting at each rest stop on the 10-hour return trip to Berea. I just wanted to minister to her: chicken soup, massage, peroxide.

We left after Maddie’s volleyball game Thursday night and arrived around 1 a.m. to the House of Lots of Pink Stuff, where we were to spend the night, since Rozee’s roommate had already left. Maybe “Lots of Stuff” is enough to aptly describe the very chicly decorated room. It was really quite clean and organized for a dorm room, but I had the distinct feeling if I didn’t contain my belongings in one spot, they would be gobbled up, lost forever.

“How was your night in the dorm?” David asked when we returned.

My mouth was savoring a big bite of chocolate cherry bread, so I couldn’t readily answer.

Maddie answered for me. “She said,” [dramatic pause], ‘If this were a hotel, I’d be calling the front desk.’”

Even when I attended Michigan State University I had difficulty with the noise and activity level of college students. When I lived in the dorm, I had to contend with two roommates, one of whom consumed large quantities of alcohol, the other who did likewise, along with a wide array of drugs. Nice people, both, but the banging around in the middle of the night when they’d return from their escapades made me appreciate the invention of ear plugs. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember to bring any when we spent the night at Rozee’s. 

At 2 a.m., there was still loud talk in the hallways, clanking around in heavy shoes, banging of God knows what. Well, it is the night before the last day of short term, I thought, so I guess it’s to be expected. 

“Oh, everybody’s excited about going home tomorrow,” I said to Rozee.

“No, it’s always like this,” she said.

She shouldn’t tell me that. It makes me want to keep her home and subject her to remnants of her past, moments like these...poor Maddie’s present...

Maddie made cornbread a couple of weeks ago and she wanted to eat some more of it after having had several pieces. It was late Saturday afternoon and dinner was going to be a loose affair later on.

“You should eat something green first,” I told her. “Lettuce or broccoli.”

She settled on broccoli and as I was cutting it up, David said, “I should have some of that raw. It’s full of anti-oxidants, you know, and it’s the best source of...” and his voice trailed off.

“I read it somewhere,” he said.

Something he read somewhere, some new and interesting fact.

“You’re starting to sound like me,” I said.

I have a reputation among my children for reading too much and imparting the information to them. Usually it’s stuff that supports my opinions, bolsters my stands on issues such as why I don’t like them riding in cars with young drivers, why they should eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, why it’s important to wear a hat in cold weather—normal everyday mother stuff that they bristle at when I say it, but which has a tad more credence when it’s sitting there in black and white on the kitchen table, circled with her name on it.

“You read too much!” Maddie cries.

But she did recently point out to me a USA Weekend article about the top good practices to follow when raising babies, and noted that most of them were standard practice at our house.

But while David and I were laughing, Maddie had a new point to make.

“Remember you said if you listen to Mozart as a baby it will make you smarter?”

“Yeah, I remember. Did you learn that in your psychology class?”

“Well, it’s not true,” she continued.

And then she had one of those “Ah, ha!” moments.

“Maybe all the stuff you’ve told me is crap.”

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