So, LaMai, how are you doing?

Q: How are you coping with A's absence?

Well...these first few weeks I will admit, I have behaved like a jealous girlfriend.

Me: Hi, A. It's me.
A: Hi Mom. I can't talk now...I have to go to dinner.
Me: What? You don't miss me?
A: Erm...no, it's not that. It's just that I can't talk right now...dinner started a half hour ago and I just have a few minutes left to...
Me: But you don't call me 329 times a day like you did last week.
A: Mom? Do you want me to eat?
Me: Don't you miss me? Fine. I get it. You CAN'T TALK.

Okay, that's not an actual conversation, but you get the idea. I visited A one weekend to check up on him, see how he was doing.

A is making friends. Almost all his friends are Asian. I am not sure why this is, but I am hoping this will secure a decent study ethic.

His roommate is a slob.

And creates bad smells in the dorm.

And asks A for money.

I have addressed the above issues with A.

A signed up to DJ at the school radio station one day a week.

Joined a club or two.

Is learning piano in addition to guitar.

Is rowing and will compete at a regatta this week with his team.

Hates his Chem teacher.

Loves his English teacher.

Fell off his bunk bed last week.

Thinks the food is below average. It is "bland."

Learned to play pool.

And ping pong. With his Asian homies.

Takes a shuttle bus to Wal-Mart on Saturdays. This, despite our talks about the Wal-Mart ethos.

Is perpetually busy or exhausted.

So LaMai has come to realize, that her A really *doesn't* have too much free time to chat. His school keeps him plenty occupied.

And me? If I am actually suffering the syndrome that is "empty nest" syndrome. I think I am. But goodness, there is so much to do. Who has time to live vicariously through one's child? It's certainly not what I homeschooled him for.

And tomorrow, I have a flight academy to go to. I have decided that I will learn to fly.



Our beloved greyhound, a former racing athlete who was too skittish at the starting gate to actually make a career of the sport, and wound up being adopted by me and A, died at my mother's home this afternoon in Florida.

Born: "Okie Destry" in Oklahoma.
Lived: as "Destiny" after LaMai thought "Destry" sounded too much like "destroy" and the vet made the mistake of calling him Destiny on his medical papers.

He was only nine years old.


Our decision

...did not come without tears, confusion, emails to school officials, a last-minute mutiny of our school decision (72 hours ago), with reversal, and general "OH MY G-D I CANNOT BELIEVE I AM RELINQUISHING MY ROLE AS GODDESS AND UBER-OVERSEER OF ACADEMICS" malaise.

It was hard.

As I was about to leave A at his new school this week, observing his cute Converse shoes against his blue slacks, jacket and tie, he smiled and told me, "Mom, I feel as though I am living a once-in-a-lifetime miracle."

We chose to accept -- and matriculate at --- BTBSA.

We chose the school for many reasons. But primarily, BTBSA kept in constant communication with me and A from the time he was accepted. Most impressive were the phone calls from non-staff. "Hi. I am the parent of so-and-so. Do you have any questions about the school? We can help." and "Hi. I am so-and-so? Is A available? I'd love to talk to him about my school" and "Hi. I'm A's roommate. I can't wait to meet him. He's going to have a great time. Please call me with any questions or just to chat. I'm here."

There were a few things that were not snag-free. Namely, the course placement process took a really long time and I felt as though I were dealing with Mao Tse Tung's henchmen. "We'll take care of A's courses" then it was, "We have no records for your son" then things became ambiguous, mysterious. I was told things like, "The teachers know where to place him" and I was kept out of the loop altogether with course placement. Which prompted me to become more interrogative. It was as if BTBSA forgot that A was a homeschooler. HOME schooler. I am head of the HOME. I have knowledge. I have evaluative skills. Please keep me in the loop, people, or I will bite your head off if you don't do this right.

Our issues with this were not resolved until the day before school began. But BTBSA worked around the clock to make good with us.

Anyway, A registered for his first day this week. When we arrived, we were assigned a Move-In Buddy. He walked us to A's dorm. Walked us to A's mailbox. Helped walk packages to A's dorm. Took us to the bookstore and waited while our books were picked up and paid for. Answered our questions. Walked us to the Student Center for A's photo-taking. Walked us the computer configuration building.

We kept getting approached by older students. "You new to BTBSA? Welcome, man," and the handshakes between A and the BTBSA student would begin. I couldn't believe that we were treated so well (things did not happen that way at my b-school!).

Then, inevitably I noticed The Parents. Of the Other New Students. Remember them? The ones from Botoxlandia, Stress-istan, and The Corporate-Mogul States of America? Yes. They were plenty. I actually had to overhear this:

A heavy-set looking dad to his son: "So. What is going to be your plan for organizing your socks and underwear, son? Do you have that under control?" Yes, LaMai is so sure that the young man's socks and underwear were bound to escape and create havoc on the young man's academics if they were not properly reined-in and organized.

From a mother with a very stretched and eye-opened face: "What is my child expected to ask of her Grade Advisor? What are the students allowed to ask you? What things should they not ask you?" Grade Advisor: Erm...anything can be asked. There are no rules with questions.

From a very ambitious Asian father: "I want my son to learn about cross-cultural relations. What does the dorm do to encourage, stress, and maintain cross-cultural relations?" Very Cool (and Observant) Sandals-Wearing Dorm Advisor And Dad To Four Kids: Erm, we watch movies and occasionally have organized events. But the school has a good offering of cultural clubs. I just advise against telling your son he must join a particular club that YOU want him to join or else. It should happen organically.

In other words, PARENTS PLEASE CHILL OUT! Your kids have brains. Let them live and learn and make a few mistakes.

At the dorm across from A's, I noticed some seniors playing guitar barefoot, one pounding away on a tabla drum.

As A got ready for his first "special dress" dinner and met with his dorm mates who were also attired in special dress, I observed the flourish of blue sports jackets and khaki pants topping the brown oxfords. Then I looked at my A. Blue corduroy jacket, tie, blue pants, Converse sneakers.

"You look great. Like a rock star." He smiled.

We don't do Ticky Tacky Boxes. His new school accepted him knowing that.


Educational Update! For real!

September 19th is upon us.

There is really, honestly, nothing more educational than what you ought to be doing on this day.

It is why kids feel compelled to be in "school" in September.

It is why the wind changes.

It is why alcoholic drinks made from cane juice taste better for you parents.

It is why every year, up until this year, Harry Potter book sales would plummet.

Just do it.

Your kids will thank you.