Perspective On The Year Ahead

17.0 and I just got home from the first real college tour – last year we did a one-off college visit to NYU in NY but that (at least in my mind) wasn’t a real tour.  This time we did two of the State University of New York (SUNY) schools that would realistically be college destinations.  While one is still in the running and one is out – my lesson was in perspective on the year ahead.

17.0 is going into her senior year of high school.  For the most part I can recall most of that year (despite it occurring more than 25 years ago.  I really don’t recall such a big focus on the college tour – but that’s a different story.

As we were walking the second SUNY school today, I asked 17.0 what she was looking for on these campuses.  I think I wanted to know what she was using as her yardstick to measure one school against another.

Her answer was interesting – she wanted to measure out the campuses (small, medium and large); find out about campus life and maybe a little about her major.

I would have thought she would be more focused on the school’s proximity to town and what living in a dorm would be like.

Just a differing perspective on the year ahead.

As we were driving home, she asked me for a reminder of when she can go for her senior portrait (tomorrow).  Then she was focused on her yearbook quote.  I can’t even recall mine.  To be honest, I can’t even recall if we had them.

My thought on them though is you need to think about your audience 10 years out.  After all once the school year ends, the yearbook is put away – and comes out right before the 10 year reunion.  I’d like to think experience gives me perspective on the year ahead – but I could be wrong.

I’m going to guess that this year will be eye-opening for me – going through a lot of changes for the first time.  It’s been a while since there was this much upheaval – the good news is, hopefully I learn something by the time 14.5 is ready for her senior year.

That’s my perspective on the year ahead.

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Maintaining Lines and Boundaries

lines and boundariesOne of the things that I find most challenging as an only parent is maintaining lines and boundaries – not just between my kids and me but as it pertains to the running of our house with just about everyone.  From the outside looking in, two parent households seem to have an advantage because there is the concept of good cop/bad cop and no one person has to play both roles all the time.

In our house, I bump into this with the girls when it comes to feminine hygiene and product issues.  I admit I am in way over my head for most of it, and rely on the girls to take the lead, and I usually show up with a credit card.  This leads to broader issues with shopping – things that as a boy growing up I never had to deal with.  12.5 needs a specific bikini for camp because everyone in her bunk is getting one.  13.5 needs specific shirts and shorts because her group is the oldest campers this year.

The line is what do you need and we’ll talk about the rest.  The boundary though moves into a social sphere though – and their acceptance and ability to be comfortable in their surroundings.  Issues I can’t control, and boundaries I have to cross.

Having a second parent in the house to sound that out to is a luxury I don’t enjoy.  I am sure there are reasons why it’s not as simple as it appears with two people sharing in decisions, but it certainly looks easier to not have to be the one to make every ruling and then enforce each directive.

Added to the mix in our house now is my brother, and that dynamic helps keep the lines and boundaries blurred.  I have set up rules for my brother in living with us, and have promised my girls its temporary.  But the reality is, it feels more permanent that I want it too….

And then there is my brother not following the rules in place that I use to govern my house.  It’s that house guest who won’t use a coaster, but your children do all the time.  I don’t want to have to “scold” my older brother and point out what he is doing that violates the house norms.  But I also have to maintain the lines and boundaries that keep the house afloat.

It’s a fine line to walk.  But why should I have to clean up after my brother when I don’t clean up after my kids?  Why should I have to unplug a smoking space heater from my brother’s room when my kids can’t even have a space heater in their room?

As any parent has – I’ve invested a lot emotionally, physically and financially in my house and family.  Since I still expect to reap an ROI (return on investment) at some point, I need to protect it.  That’s becoming increasingly difficult to do though when I am not only maintaining two sets of lines and boundaries – but apparently two sets of rules.

When my brother moved in, the agreement was he would leave by the end of February.  Now its the end of April.  Do I have the cachet left with my kids to maintain the boundaries I’ve set up while they see they can be flexible?

So, we’ll go shopping for 12.5’s bikini.  And 13.5 will get the senior camp wear she needs.   And feminine hygiene products will continue to befuddle me.  But I will maintain the lines and boundaries to protect my investment in my girls.

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