One of the first things you discover when you have children is that you will be happier if you abandon all expectations. Nothing will ever go according to plan again, and your vision of control is little more than fantasy. Such realities perhaps become apparent to parents of multiples more quickly than to most other parents, but they do come to all of us, sooner or later.
College? Now THAT seemed somewhat under control. A Herculean task, to be sure, but a manageable one, as long as you do not mistake your own completely unbiased and adoring view of your child for the more jaundiced one that might be taken by admissions committees. A couple of reaches, sure -- but on the whole you and your child try to figure out what her realistic options might be and arrange things so that when the letters come, there are more acceptances than rejections and at least some of them offer something enticingly green. She makes her choice, she refrains from the kind of idiotic behavior that could get her expelled from high school in May, and she goes off to college.
So who thought about a hurricane?
Nope, not me. I just laughed at the "Personal Hurricane Emergency Preparedness" information that came along with the phone cards and post office box numbers and refrigerator orders.
Why would a woman who had to single-handedly evacuate three children under four from the house late one night when the church next door burst into flames EVER laugh at the possibility of disaster?
What can I plead? Undying optimism?
Well. My daughter and her father are back in NOLA this afternoon. Both of them, of course, have their phones turned off, so if something worse than Katrina has happened I don't know about it yet. I assume they're exploring and I hope they're safe. Tomorrow she'll get a look at her new dorm room and will learn whether her clothes and bedding survived the past four months, and then she will, once again, begin her career at Tulane.
She has certainly grieved the loss of Willamette, her first semester host school, and her wonderful group of friends there. But last night she was online purusing the array of volunteer and rebuilding opportunties available in New Orleans and wondering how she was ever going to choose what to do. I think she'll probably be all right.
PS: I'm flying down tomorrow and I'm staying till Sunday. "You're not planning to hang out with me all the time?" asked the lovely daughter. Are you kidding? My cameras are primed and I have hundreds of photographs to take. I plan to see as much of NOLA and southeastern Louisiana as I can. More next week!
PPS: They called! And here's the first report: No, it's not the NOLA they visited a year ago. Trolley cars? Gone. Street lights? Nope. Traffic lights? Mostly down. My daughter says it probably would be depressing, but there are lots of people around. French Quarter: There, but very quiet. Hotel? Sheets covering the windows, room ceiling pulled down, no hallway wallpaper anywhere, endless evidence of blown-out windows and water damage. "Spartan, " says my husband. However, there are lots of parents and students wandering around. My daughter does not sound the least bit deflated.
To my utter dismay, they also report that the President (of the United States) is coming to New Orleans tomorrow. Honestly. This administration's contribution to the recovery of a great American city equals less than zero. How dare he show his face just when the colleges -- among the few institutions that have made real headway, and almost completely on their own steam -- are re-opening? No one needs a presidential entourage impinging upon things tomorrow. Let the university communities have their day in the sun.