5 Days, 5 Colleges, 5 States (Part 1)

We returned from our travels last night at around 7:00. I’ve been clinging to that nice vacation feeling all morning by continuing to read my silly novel about time travel and Scotland. (When I’m done, I’ll watch the show.) I have several urgent work matters that are glaring at me at my google inbox. I have to return phone calls from family wanting news. Later. Later.

We’ve been gone for eight days, which I think is our longest family vacation ever. The first three days were a traditional vacation on Block Island, a little football that Long Island kicks up to New England. We stayed at a motel-ish place a few miles away from the town that primarily serves People Who Live on Boats. Before this trip, I knew vaguely that were such people. My sister-in-law’s dad sailed his boat from Connecticut to Key West for about six months last year. Here, we had an up-close view of the life style, because the motel, which called itself a resort, had a long dock for the People Who Live On Boats.

Every morning, we got a donut and coffee from the store at the motel/resort and strolled down the dock to check out the new boats that came in over night. Some were huge with walls for flat screen TVs. Others were smaller with feral children eating Cheerios’ on the floor. At the end of the dock, they had a bar with a deck. In the evening, Jonah took Ian to the movies at the motel/resort, and Steve and I drank gin and tonics with the People Who Live on Boats.

In between the morning donut and the evening gin and tonic, we drove around. We swam in near-empty beaches. We found places to eat. We hiked. Next time we go back, we’ll book the hotel and the ferry ride six months in advance.

Those three days were the traditional vacation part of the trip. The next five days were about Jonah’s college tours. Next post.

24 thoughts on “5 Days, 5 Colleges, 5 States (Part 1)

  1. I’m interested to hear what you think about your vacation novel and the subsequent series watching. I believe that it traumatized my poor husband when we got to the end of the first season (his idea to watch it so he can’t blame me).

    1. I never read the vacation novel because I actually have a deep-seated prejudice against Scottish settings in my romance novels. I think I read a few too many cheesy highlander/laird/kilt epic romances back in the 80s, and it put me off them forever.

  2. Speaking of the 80s, Caitlin Flanigan is terribly worried college kids aren’t getting drunk for the right reason, like in her day.

      1. I read the first few paragraphs, then skipped to the end, then looked at the first comment, which said pretty much what I was thinking, which was something like “So this is true just because Caitlin said so?” And I decided that I had spent enough time on the article.

  3. From the Flanagan article: “many times things went terribly wrong. But most of us survived.” Of course, those that did not survive, or whom there are more than a few, are not able to write self-righteous articles for upper-middle-class, as it is now called, publications.

  4. I know; it’s as if she’s completely unfamiliar with the effects alcoholism and drug abuse had on people in the 1970s and 1980s. Everyone just had fun, and we didn’t worry about it!

    1. af said:

      “I know; it’s as if she’s completely unfamiliar with the effects alcoholism and drug abuse had on people in the 1970s and 1980s. Everyone just had fun, and we didn’t worry about it!”

      No kidding.

  5. On the other hand, the “Good Parent” vs. the “Get Real Parent” is a real thing, a real line that divides whom the parents socialize with, whom the parents let their children socialize with. One might argue there is a middle ground: you can be a “Get Real Parent” without permitting intoxication to the point of vomiting. A flute of champagne at the New Year’s Eve party. Craft beer served in 4-oz cups. To that argument the Good Parent says “no”: a single drink ever before 21 puts you in the “Get Real” category, and there’s enough Good Parent families for me to hold the line without having me or my kids being ostracized. If you do not know both types of parents, you’ve probably insulated yourself into one group or the other, and you may not have any sense of what the breakdown of the two types of parents is in your community. (For that matter, I know plenty of both types of parents, but could not begin to tell you what the overall representation is in my community.) So I enjoyed the article. I know this alcohol issue occasionally gets discussed in the media, but I do not think it comes up as often as the broader based “helicopter parenting” articles.

  6. 1) The Pumpkin Fest thing shouldn’t have been used as an example of college kids gone wild. See: http://www.wmur.com/special-reports/months-after-keene-riots-those-arrested-share-stories/34402738. Sure, many of the participants probably were college students, but if this is true, it’s not a side effect of helicopter parenting:

    Keene city officials blamed the riots and crowds in large part on the social media site FinnaRage, which publicized the event weeks in advance. They said that helped attract young men and women from other states and schools.

    There are adults in the entertainment industry trying to cash in on the image of college partying. I’m thinking of a number of movies (most of which I haven’t seen.) I’m not clear as to how a social media site makes money.

    2) At what point are college students adults? When does childhood end in Flanagan’s world? Are they “kids?” At what point are they responsible for their own decisions, rather than their decisions being their parents’ fault?

    3) You know, (although Flanagan might not), the drinking age led to a widespread drug culture for high school students and college students. The choice isn’t drink vs. not drink. It’s drink vs. smoke vs. pop a pill vs. inject vs. oh heck, all the above. And if you want to make your skin crawl, read up on synthetics http://www.narconon.org/drug-abuse/synthetics/classes.html. (Of course, there is also always good old heroin.)

    4) The Good Parents vs. Get Real Parents is too simple a structure. I know both types; I also know Good Parents whose children are not with the parental program. Peer pressure still exists. It is wishful thinking to think that Good Parents don’t have Get Real children.

    In my opinion, it’s a Bad Idea for any adult to serve alcohol to anyone underage who is not their child. Does that make me a Good Parent? I know parents who consider themselves virtuous, who have obviously provided alcohol to their children’s friends (because it appeared in the papers when the police were called).

    5) Is Caitlin Flanagan in New York? Where did her children attend school? There is a (dangerous) prep school tradition of graduation parties. Some parents host the party. I don’t know how a high school student manages to rent a house large enough to hold a party for up to 100 people. In other words, I suspect some adults are involved somewhere.

    http://www.unionleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20150608/NEWS03/150609173
    http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2011/05/vermont_police_crash_deerfield.html
    http://archive.boston.com/news/local/new_hampshire/articles/2010/06/09/host_says_he_was_unaware_of_drinking_at_nh_party/

    The schools try to do their part–they send letters and emails to parents warning against such parties. They restrict parental access to student contact information, in an attempt to make it difficult to invite the whole class. They graduate the seniors, then schedule finals for all the other students for the week after graduation, to limit the mayhem.

    My impression is that some parents are deeply involved in the planning and implementation of such parties. As far as I know, they are not “normal” graduation parties, in that the parents of the other students are not invited.

  7. I just submitted a long comment (twice) which may be stuck in moderation, or the filter. Probably because it was taken for advertising for bad stuff. (can’t specify for fear of triggering the filter.) Sorry!

  8. I’ll have to reread the article again, after letting it sit for a while. My first reaction is that it’s nostalgic, emotional balderdash.

    The past may seem more safe because people, especially women, didn’t talk about their injuries.

    In the hours after reading the article, I’d say I’m not as concerned about the evils of binge drinking as Ms. Flanagan. Off the top of my head, in the last few years young adults aged 18-25 in the towns in our school district have had the following happen:

    3 suicides
    2 sudden deaths (i.e., probably suicides, but not described as such in the papers)
    2 heroin overdoses
    1 death by freak accident
    2 deaths by DUI
    1 death by car accident (novice driver)

    11 deaths. Given the relatively small population of the towns, it works out to a higher than normal death rate among high school graduates in our towns. There may be more; I don’t really pay attention to the obituary pages unless I happen to read the paper that day, or my children call my attention to the death. In the context of the article mentioned, though, I’m not that concerned about drinking in college. It’s not a sign of existential emptiness, or maladaptive parenting. (And it says something about the writer that parents are seen as so powerful.)

    I am more concerned about the deaths among a population of young people who should be relatively protected. The college students (and can we not call them “kids,” please, as if they’re in elementary school?) might be drinking more than in past years, but it’s part of something larger.

  9. Cranberry said:

    “In the context of the article mentioned, though, I’m not that concerned about drinking in college.”

    For one thing, there’s a lot less drinking and driving in college than in high school.

  10. That depends on the high school and the college. Many parents at information sessions did ask about students “bringing their cars” to campus. In my opinion, a college student with a car is trouble waiting to happen–but then I’m on the East Coast. There is public transportation available, although taking the bus or train shows that your parents (ahem) aren’t underwriting personal cars. It’s not glamorous, but it works well enough. There are also Uber and Lyft, which are likely more affordable than parking, insurance, gas, etc. (Of course, if the student’s commuting to college or to a job, that’s different.)

    I don’t think there is as much drinking and driving in high school in these parts for several reasons. 1) Many students are too scheduled to get drivers’ licenses. 2) cars are expensive. The students I knew who had cars were giving younger siblings transport to high school–i.e., relieving their parents of transport duties. The “don’t drink and drive” message has largely been received, as has the message about using contraception. Yes, there were two deaths by DUI, but it was the same accident–and there were other factors involved.

    I’m more worried on the driving front about texting and driving. This isn’t a teenager/young adult issue. Everyone seems to do it. I see many cars and trucks cross the center line for no reason, other than the fact that the driver is texting. As texting behind the wheel is illegal in this state, there’s not much more one can do to stop the behavior.

  11. cranberry said:

    “Many parents at information sessions did ask about students “bringing their cars” to campus. In my opinion, a college student with a car is trouble waiting to happen–but then I’m on the East Coast. There is public transportation available, although taking the bus or train shows that your parents (ahem) aren’t underwriting personal cars. It’s not glamorous, but it works well enough. There are also Uber and Lyft, which are likely more affordable than parking, insurance, gas, etc. (Of course, if the student’s commuting to college or to a job, that’s different.)”

    Okay–soapbox time.

    While I have seen some amazingly bad driving on and around campus (4-way stops people–learn them and love them!), the most dangerous looking vehicle is probably the little motor scooters that a lot of students have. They just zip zip zip all over, often very unexpectedly for larger vehicular traffic, and often with no helmet.

    If you love your kids, don’t turn them lose as college freshmen with a new Vespa!

    Also, driving lessons! And more driving lessons!

    Plus, i’m not thrilled about a lot of the stuff that I’ve seen kids on bicycles doing–for instance texting while cycling.

    (Locally, a lot of off-campus students do need cars. Our close-in grocery closed and the new one is a solid 2.5 miles from the heart of campus.)

    “I’m more worried on the driving front about texting and driving. This isn’t a teenager/young adult issue. Everyone seems to do it. I see many cars and trucks cross the center line for no reason, other than the fact that the driver is texting.”

    Yeah.

    I’m waiting impatiently for my autonomous car.

    1. Amy P: Is there no Uber in your little college town? Adding up all the costs involved with owning a car, it would seem the occasional Uber trip would be more affordable. And there are also Zipcars in some cities on the Northeast, which would also seem to be more useful.

      Texting while cycling. Darwin award?

  12. cranberry said,

    “Texting while cycling. Darwin award?”

    Yeah.

    “Amy P: Is there no Uber in your little college town?”

    It looks like we do. However, believe it or not, Uber and Lyft are not operating in Austin TX:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/what-happened-to-austin-texas-when-uber-and-lyft-left-town-2016-6

    “The ride-hailing companies suspended operations in early May after voters upheld strict regulations on the companies and their drivers — specifically, fingerprint-based background checks, a requirement that cars must be clearly marked with the companies’ logos, and rules on where drivers can pick up and drop off passengers.”

    Having read about the prevalence of taxi and Uber drivers sexually assaulting passengers, I find myself in the uncomfortable position of thinking that Austin is actually in the right here–Uber should be background-checking drivers.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/rise-in-sexual-assaults-reported-by-taxi-passengers-1452476904

    Plus, in a college town, the Uber driver might just be another college student. (I was just checking, and their age minimum is 21 and up to 23 in some areas–but still….)

    Another related issue that comes to mind is that a college-aged child without a car is more likely to take rides from acquaintances who may either be poor drivers themselves or who may be otherwise unreliable or unsafe. So, in cities where a car is more of a blessing than a nuisance, having a car at their disposal may keep a college-aged child from making bad choices about accepting rides from dubious people.

    What pencils out is going to depend a lot on local geography, availability of on-campus housing, parking availability, local transit, taxi and Uber availability, how safe the areas are and housing costs. Locally, there’s a very noticeable price difference in student apartments depending on how many blocks to central campus they are).

    “Adding up all the costs involved with owning a car, it would seem the occasional Uber trip would be more affordable. And there are also Zipcars in some cities on the Northeast, which would also seem to be more useful.”

    But probably not for daily commuting, which a lot of students in our area do.

  13. As with everything, “it depends.” Certainly, for daily commuting, a car makes sense. But (hard hearted parent I) I would not be sympathetic to the argument that “I need to get away from campus.”

    On the other hand, when the student is a relatively new driver, taking a ride from another young(ish) driver isn’t increasing the danger. There’s also the danger of a tipsy student-with-a-car deciding to drive home from a party rather than taking a ride service. And the friend your child hands the keys to may not be sober.

    I suppose it depends on how willing one is to imagine relying upon others (taxi or ride-service drivers, trains, the bus). In my area of the Northeast, we may be more willing to do that than in your area of Texas.

  14. Complicated!

    My plan for our kids is LOTS of driving lessons from the local driving school (with lots of emphasis on intersections) and they do have good spatial skills, so I hope our kids will be better than average new drivers.

    That said, if our kids do what I would like them to do and go to school in town, they wouldn’t need a car the first few years. We got by with one car for the first 7 years we lived here and my husband has almost always walked to work since we’ve lived in TX.

    (Part of my background here is that my parents kinda sorta forgot to make sure that I got my driver’s license in a timely manner, so driver’s licenses and lots of instruction and lots of safe practice for the kids is high on my priority list.)

  15. Speaking of campus parking, occasionally my husband will try to take a car to work and then discover that the most convenient place to park it on campus is to take it back home and park here…

    Very sadly, convenient parking seems to be one of the first victims of campus building projects.

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