A Family’s Amazing Day of Visiting a College

It’s always an exciting weekend with our family, but you know that already. Days are always filled with plans and obligations. It can be a family event, game, or even visiting a college.

Wife and I found ourselves going to college on one particular weekend. Lovie got into college some time ago. We got to see the campus she’ll be calling home when she finishes high school.

Visiting College

It’s been a while since Wife and I have been to a college. We both graduated some time ago. It was interesting to go to a campus and see what college is like with Wi-fi and Uber Eats. Some things have changed. Some things haven’t changed so much.

College campus. We looked around on our own before starting the activities.

We arrived on campus on a beautiful spring afternoon. We negotiated our way through campus to a parking lot and continued through the campus to the activities. I looked around the campus and tried to take it all in. Wife and I explained to her what college was like for us when we were students. We didn’t live on campus, but we felt our time in college, no matter how long ago, could help her as she spoke to different students and faculty members.

We asked questions to get more information for her about life on campus and how they could help her prepare for that big, scary place they call the real world. If you have teenagers, you know what I’m talking about.

I told Wife how I wished I was wearing a tweed jacket. Nothing too flashy, just a little something with nice arm patches. Something that said “Academia” while we leisurely walked around campus. Wife just gave me that weird look she always gives when I have a great idea. I love her, but sometimes she has a difficult time understanding my vision. I think it’s a common problem visionaries share.

Lovie is undeclared for now. We spent some time in the hall where the different majors offered by the college were set up to discuss their major and the benefits they offer to the incoming freshmen and transfer students.

What we saw when Visiting the College

While we walk around seeing what fields of study are available, I notice a prize wheel on the table of the Communications Studies Department. I stop to take a picture to send to a friend of mine, who was my boss at a radio station I worked at in my days before I became a daddy. After taking the picture, I send it to my friend. A lady who is working behind the table sees me and we begin a conversation about the communications industry. I explain to her about my brief stint in radio promotions and how I had forgotten about our gargantuan prize wheel until just now.

While we are speaking, I mention my daughter and how she is looking for an academic home during her time in college. She is excited to hear this and would love the chance to speak to Lovie about the things her department can offer her. I am also introduced to two gentlemen who are professors in the department.

The visit was a nice little homecoming for me. I was able to talk shop with people who work in the field. It was nice to discuss things I had studied in school and methods employed in writing serious news stories before the days of the Homework Wars and serving meals you were sure would be a hit, only to find out it was no good and you should have resorted to chicken nuggets and mac n cheese. Sometimes you don’t realize how much you miss something until you just happen to run into someone with the same interests.

Eating at the Campus Common Area

I thank “J” and “Y” for their time and reconnect with Wife and Lovie. We listen to a talk put on by staff and current students. From there, we go to the dining area where we sample some of the delicious fare Lovie will enjoy as she studies and prepares to make the world a better place. We get in line for me the buffet. I have to say everything looks good except for the cheeseburger pizza.

Cheeseburger pizza. The only blemish on the day.

Wife and I continue to talk about our time in college as we ask Lovie for her thoughts on the school. I talk about the nice people I met during my venturing alone. We get into the car and head home. There is a house full of children waiting for us, and we need to make sure everything, and everyone, is still intact and standing.

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Pizza Bagels, Video Games, and Batteries

I needed to drop one of my children at their friend’s house last week. I know the father, so I stayed for a bit and talked over a beer. We were in the living room, where one of his kids was playing video games.

Video Games

I’ve met a lot of kids over the course of parenthood, foster parenting, coaching, school pickup and drop-off, and a variety of other circumstances and duties. I think teens are the funniest, and this encounter with another life expert who is still in high school was no exception. Loyal daddies and mommies are familiar with our friend Wilt. Wilt was a child of another friend who seemed to know everything about life, especially basketball. Check out the link I so generously provided. If you have teenagers, you’ll understand what I’m telling you.

I think teenagers are the funniest, and this encounter with another life expert who is still in high school is no exception.

My child and I arrive at the house and the younger children quickly disappear upstairs. I remain downstairs, where “15” is dealing with one of the many challenges you face when trying to assemble a team on a video game. Dad is also in the living room finishing up work before getting ready to go out for the evening. It’s not an easy time for “15”. He’s playing a soccer game on his console, and he’s trying to assemble a national team. Apparently American soccer players are few and far between, and the good ones are even harder to find. I would like to help him, but I know nothing about who plays soccer, let alone where they hail from.

My friend and I watch “15” scroll through lists of players and their attributes. I offer whatever advice I can, but nothing works. The game works in a certain way, and you can’t just create a player and place him on your team. I literally haven’t played a soccer video game since last century, so I’m pretty much useless.

The Smoke Alarm

It gets harder for “15”. Not only does the field of available players lack what he needs, but the battery in the living room’s smoke alarm died, and there is an annoying “chirp” signaling the need for a new one. Each shrill call for a new battery is grating on the virtual general manager, who is having enough headaches with his lacking roster. He’s finally had enough, and he marches to the smoke detector, pulls it from the wall, and then the real struggle begins.

“15” has the smoke detector in his hands. The battery needs to be replaced, but first the old battery needs to be extracted. The Chinese water torture is getting to be too much for the lad, who can get the compartment open, but can’t get the battery out. Dad is enjoying this and so am I, to be honest with you. Finally, I show mercy to the poor child and take the battery out for them. After said extraction, I hold up the 9-volt nemesis and sing, “Ta-daa!” Now it’s time for a new battery, but there is no 9-volt battery in the house. So, the smoke detector sits on the end table sans battery for the time being.

A New Battery

I return home to take care of some chores and duties while my child is away at her friends. My friend has plans that evening, so I am sure to be there promptly to take my child home. I arrive at the house with a gift for “15”. A brand new 9-volt battery. To this day, I am mad at myself for not putting a bow on it.

Loaded and ready

I proudly present the lad with the gift and the life lesson. He installs the battery and places the smoke detector back in its proper place. Dad and I are proud of the child for doing his part to keep the house and his family safe and secure. Now, it’s back to video games where he has moved on from soccer to basketball. Dad and I are watching him scroll through teams and players. “15” makes some comments about Larry Bird, causing Dad to educate his child about Bird and Bill Russell. Meanwhile, we continue to watch him play.

“Hey, Auerbach,” I say.

“What?”

“I called you ‘Auerbach’.” Dad laughs. The child has no idea what I’m talking about, nor does he understand the reference to his basketball personnel moves.

Pizza Bagels

It’s time for a break in the action. “15” needs food. His dad follows him to the kitchen for a beer. “15” wants to make a pizza bagel. Dad and I watch the child struggle to slice a pre-sliced bagel. We remind the child it’s already pre-sliced, but this doesn’t matter to him because it’s not, “pre-sliced enough”. He gets the bagel sliced and prepares with sauce and toasts it. When it’s done, he has enough grated parmesan cheese for a dozen pizza bagels.

“Hey, Fieri,” I say after a sip of my beer, “Do you want some bagel to go with that cheese?”

One of the beers I received.

He tells me he has a solution and carefully shakes some cheese from one slice of the bagel onto the other slice. He then proceeds to eat the bagel while standing up, back turned to the counter. Crumbs fall to the floor. I tell him I’m willing to bet Dad has invested in some plates for the house. Dad tells me he needs to constantly remind him to use a plate when eating. I had no idea it was so chronic.

Driving home with my child, I ask how things went for them. I get home and enjoy one of the beers my friend sent home with me. My daughter and I watch some important, informative video on Harry Potter. While sipping my beer, I wonder if parents of teenagers were really meant to survive.

My new book, “A Collection of Short Stories” is now available on Apple Books.

Prince of the Road

Being a foster parent gives you numerous challenges everyday. There are things to deal with for school. There are doctor and dentist visits. Meetings with social workers. Another wrinkle being a foster parent can bring is a change in the order of milestones.

Our children range in ages from 17 to six. We will be celebrating a driver’s license before we will celebrate graduation from elementary school. We will help prepping for a high school final exam before dealing with middle school orientation. Things like these are perfectly normal for a family that doesn’t exactly do “normal”.

One of the Gaggle has their learner’s permit. This person has made Wife and I proud. They have shown initiative in their life and work. They looked for and got a job. They sought out how to get their permit and they are looking into driver’s ed.

The child and I have been out on the road getting practice and experience whenever we can. They do well most of the time. Then again, there was this one time…

I fancy myself an amateur craft beer and bourbon critic. One time nearly became a “Four-finger Night” as a neighbor likes to say. We were driving around town. The Gaggle had a few rounds behind the wheel under their belt and kept improving. We were making our way home. On our right was one of those glaring-red stop signs. Painfully obvious to me right away. Somehow, the Gaggle didn’t see it until we nearly passed it. Being the diligent person and stickler for rules, they slammed on the breaks as soon as they recognized their folly. I exclaimed an expletive and put my hands up to shield myself from the dashboard in case the seat belt didn’t work.

The Gaggle apologized. I reminded them to keep their eyes open when driving. They promised to do so and thanked me for the advice. As we continued our way, the route called for a left-hand turn. Unfortunately for our driving novice, this was one of those clearly visible streets that somehow remained hidden until you were halfway by it. Most people would continue on and make the next turn and make their way back to it. Not the Gaggle. Our driving dynamo saw the nearly passed street, slams on the brakes, and cuts the wheel for a hairpin turn that would make Vin Diesel proud. If they ever start casting for “The Fast and the Furious 17”, I think I’m signing the Gaggle up for it. Wait. They haven’t made part 17 yet. Have they?

We continue. We’re almost home, much to my relief. I think the car’s relieved, too. I instruct the Gaggle to make a turn. Maybe they were thinking about the turn they almost missed. Whatever it was, they make this one a little premature and we’re on the left side of the road, practically on someone’s front lawn. I thought I heard a mailbox scream and a lawn gnome reciting a prayer. I tell the child the laws haven’t changed and we’re still driving on the right side of the road. He apologized and literally rights the situation. We get home. He apologizes again before we get out of the car. We get inside the house. People inside ask how it went. We both say it went great. I poured a bourbon.