October 01, 2006

Home from College

Our household has adjusted to being smaller and quieter. With my two oldest off at college, Shaggy Hair Boy has assumed the role of oldest child, the responsible one who feeds the cats and locks the doors at night, the person who calms his mother down when her computer goes berserk. Boy in Black is not much for chatting on the phone like his sister will, but he talks to his brothers online and often stops home on Wednesdays after his drum lesson. And both kids meet me for lunch on Fridays.

My Beautiful Wonderful Smart Daughter will chat about her classes and her friends and her plans for next semester, which will be spent in London. Sometimes she will call me on the phone to talk to me about a story she is writing, or to tell me what is going on with a friend. She is already looking ahead to grad school and a career. She's been home to do things like gather documents so that she can get her passport.

Boy in Black is quieter. When asked about his classes, he shrugs. Even though he is taking upper level science courses, he finds the work easy so far and is puzzled that his classmates keep complaining how hard it is. He had planned to major in chemistry, but now he is thinking of shifting to physics. "I love the stuff we do in organic chemistry lecture," he said, "but I don't like the labs. The thing is -- I don't really care about chemicals." Well, I guess that's a good reason not to become a chemist.

"Are you learning anything in college?" I asked.

"I'm learning tons," he said, "in Ultimate Frisbee." His whole body became animated as he talked about the Ultimate Frisbee team – the practices, the drills, and the tournament they went to in Bison City. He rattled off sentences full of Ultimate Frisbee jargon, and he pulled a frisbee out of his backpack to demonstrate ten different ways to throw. The other night the team practiced for hours in the rain and cold. Apparently, he's found a whole group of young people who are just as fanatical about the sport as he is.

Both brother and sister have told me how nice it is to be on the same campus. "I think I've seen Sister every day," Boy in Black said. When we have lunch together, they tease each other affectionately and joke around. They are both adults now, but they will still act like kids, racing to see who gets the front seat of the car if we decide to drive somewhere. They eat lunch together every Tuesday, Boy in Black told me.

This weekend, my daughter went out of town to visit a friend, and Boy in Black decided to come home overnight. Even though most of his high school friends are off at college, he still managed to gather a dozen kids for a big Ultimate Frisbee game, teaching his brothers and extras all the new throws and moves he's learned. Even after it had been raining for a few hours, and all the other kids had drifted into the house to wrap beach towels around their wet, muddy bodies and huddle near the fire to get warm, Boy in Black and Shaggy Hair stayed out in the field, tossing a frisbee back and forth as it grew dark.

By night time, the house was filled with music. The Pseudonymous Boy Band was playing the same songs they've always played, happy to have their leader back. Blonde Niece suggested we order pizza and the group of kids hung out by the fire, eating and joking around. When Boy in Black sprawled out on the couch, With-a-Why, worn out from playing Ultimate Frisbee with the older kids, snuggled up to his big brother and fell asleep.

19 comments:

Jenevieve said...

I'm glad to hear you guys are adjusting. Boy in Black is taking upper-level science courses already? Huh. How does With-a-Why seem to be adjusting to the lack of Boy in Black?

Nobody in Edinburgh plays Ultimate. I feel saddened by this, despite my lack of Frisbee prowess.

Anonymous said...

It's just a matter of time before Boy in Black realizes he could probably write a senior paper on the physics of ultimate frisbee.

Or maybe he HAS realized that and that's why he's going to switch majors. :)

jo(e) said...

Jenevieve: Boy in Black had more than 40 credits of college courses from high school so he hasn't had to take any of the typical first year courses. He's already had Advanced Placement Physics and Chemistry, for instance, so he didn't need to take the big intro courses in those areas.

I think it's still difficult for With-a-Why, but Boy in Black has been really great about stopping home pretty often and talking to his little brother on instant messenger.

My mother-in-law had to give up her car because her eyesight was failing, and she gave the car to my two older kids to share and that has helped a lot -- they can stop home whenever they want.

Liesl said...

Well, chemicals don't really do it for me either. That's why I left research and went back into teaching :)

JM got me to thinking - there's also a thesis waiting to be written detailing the fine points of polymer chemistry that go into making a quality frisbee!

For what it's worth, the typical lab stuff we have undergrads do in the organic lab doesn't really relate to a whole lot that's current in the organic chem world. It's a part of the curriculum in sad need of overhauling for most undergrad chem courses, but doing so would involve a lot of time faculty-wise and a whole lot of $$$ to outfit the labs with current instrumentation. I tell students that if the lecture material seems interesting, then it's worth staying for the whole year, even if the lab work isn't exactly interesting.

Plus, BIB probably won't get to polymer chemistry until April or so if Snowstorm U. follows the usual class structure.

bridgett said...

I have long thought that Boy In Black was a physicist in personality. At least in our U, the physicists were the self-directed creative multidisciplinary thinkers. They were the shaggy unworldly young men and women with a range of offbeat hobbies. Oh, and they were all wicked smart.

No knock on chemists (most of my in-laws are chemists), but he indeed might be happier pondering the mysteries of the innerverse.

Marcie said...

I've never left a comment on your site before, but I usually check in every day. I just wanted to say that I love your writing style. It seems like after every post I read, I feel all nice and cozy, like wrapped up in a fleece blanket. OK, that sounded sooo corny, but there's something so mellow about your writing, I truly enjoy your blog.
Marcie

mom of 2 said...

Boy in Black is the same age as my oldest who is also majoring in Physics. A very cool major

listmaker said...

Ultimate Frisbee is also very popular on our campus. The kids are very serious about it and, you're right, will play in any kind of weather and until it's too dark to see.

It sounds as if Boy in Black is having a wonderful time at college.

Anonymous said...

I love how close your kids are to each other, sharing and giving and including.

Lilian said...

Ha, yes, of course physics is the way to go! :) Obviously, I'm saying this just because I'm married to a physicist... :)

Yankee, Transferred said...

I cannot WAIT for Older Daughter to come home for Thanksgiving. I envy you having the 2 older ones so close by. And of course you know I totally HEART With-A-Why.

Anonymous said...

Glad you got to have a night of noise from BiB and the extras!

Kristen said...

Man, I love hearing about your relationships with your kids. It gives me something to aspire to. It's not in my nature to invite lots of people over and be spontaneous, but I want my kids to have the comfort level to be able to bring their friends in the way yours so clearly do.

Froggymama said...

Wow, that's great your kids are friends in adulthood. My sis and I never got along until college and now we're best friends. I couldn't imagine going through life without her.

ppolarbear said...

I don't care about chemicals either (of course, I don't even know one thing about physics, but that's beside the point.) Now, again, WHEN am I going to be adopted into the jo(e) family?

delagar said...

Like Liz, I just wanted to say (wistfully) how much I like reading your posts about your family -- about your kids who like each other, about a family that functions.

ccw said...

I love reading about your kids and their relationships with one another. Having no siblings and a mother and husband who are not close to their siblings, your family shows me what it can be like and makes me hopeful for my children.

Silver Creek Mom said...

The last paragraph I could see. I love to see my 2 kids interacting and loving each other. I hope that My daughter will always take care and remember how wonderful it is to have a family and siblings. She was alone for so long.

Boy in black should talk to my DH he has a degree in physics.

Anonymous said...

If BiB does not care for chemicals, he should not become an organic chemist. We loooove our chemicals and we love transforming them into things they were not. -K.