And we’re off…


After 18 years of training, it’s happening. For real.

The time has come to see if all those lessons and words of wisdom (kids these days call this “nagging”) took hold as No. 1 readies for college.

It’s kind of like the Olympics — the Parental Olympics. These games also require supreme strength and grit and superior muscle tone, but in one very specific area: the heart. Instead of hurling a discus, I’m ripping out my ticker and hucking it 675.1 miles away.

My first qualifying event happens this week: taking my girl to campus, her new home away from home, for orientation. It’s just two days, really only one and a half. But I have to show that I can be the best of the best, that I can hold it together and be as tough as the other comparentors (competitors who are parents — I’m still working on the trademark). I’ve had only a few little pre-trials so far, like when I was in the allergy doctor’s office last month and he asked me how the kids were and I told him that college was looming. He — the father of three grown kids all in various stages of medical school — looked at me with his kind brown eyes and talked about how it’s so hard to let them go, but it’s what you’re supposed to do.

“It’s good for them to be on their own, they need to experience that independence,” he said.

I nodded and dug the nail of my index finger into my thumb so I could concentrate on that instead of how much I felt like crying. I mean, I had an out — blame it on allergies, duh — but that would be cheating — emotional doping, if you will. I took a deep breath and pressed harder. The Russian judge gave me a 7.5.

So, we’ll get to Cal Poly* in lovely San Luis Obispo Wednesday and report for orientation bright and early Thursday morning. After checking in, we’ll be separated: Students go one way, supporters the other. Reading the seminar names makes me weepy — “Transitions and You” — and I got really teary reading this, but for different reasons….



C’mon, fratunity? Even autocorrect was trying to fix that word as I typed it. Now, I know this school specializes in engineering and math-y, tech-y stuff but isn’t there at least one liberal arts major on staff who can copy-edit? Sheesh.

I think to get through this qualifier, I need to quit thinking like a parent. I need to not focus on how much I’ll miss her and instead consider things from a student’s perspective. So, I guess what I’m saying is, I have to go now because I need to figure out which classes I’m going to ditch so I can hang out on the beach.


*Every single time I say or hear “Cal Poly,” I automatically think of Jim Stafford’s song “Cow Patty,” which was like my theme song when I was a kid because I was a weird kid who really, really enjoyed poop puns. And I still do.

The lyrics, in case you have never had the privilege of hearing that song:

From the badlands came the killer
He lived by the knife and the gun
He’d cut ya just for standin’
Shoot ya if ya tried to run
He was as big as a tree and did as he pleased
And everthing he did was bad
They said if ya was to kill him
You’d only make him mad
From the goodlands come the cowgirl
Patty was her name
She was hot on the trail of that killer
On a moped she called Flame
‘Cause the killer had killed her daddy
For spittin’ in the road
And you only had to kill her daddy once
To get that gal po’d

Yippee yay a Cow Patty
Yippee yay a Cow Patty
She rode in to town to find the man who killed her daddy
Yippee yay a Cow Patty

Killer hit town at day break
Ate the door off the local saloon
He started to drink
You could tell he was thinkin’ they’ll be a showdown soon
Patty hit town in a cloud of dust
Old Flame was buzzin’ like a saw
And the whole town got as quiet as a church
When the killer stepped out for the draw
Forty shots rang out forty people fell
Patty and the killer missed each other
But they shot that town to hell


Killer took a step toward Patty
Said it’s time I gunned you down
But he slipped in somethin’ that was layin in the street
And was shot fore he hit the ground
Yes the killer slipped
And it cost him his life
And Patty said as she roared out of town
You gotta watch your step
When you know the chips are down

1 thought on “And we’re off…

  1. Kristen, this just gets better and better! Congrats to your daughter.
    Nan Standish


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