If you have a kid in college, you know what time of year it is. It's the culmination of some serious hours of planning, writing and researching. It's midway through the term and our children have set goals, collaborated with their peers and have formed the highest of standards to achieve the most successful of outcomes. Midterms? Oh please, go back to high school. It's spring break and the only thing my daughter is focused on is whether her online purchase of Victoria Secret bikinis will arrive on time.
Charlie called to ask me if she should notify the post office that her suits were scheduled to arrive and hadn't.
"Sure," I replied, "as a matter of fact you go right down there and demand action."
She didn't think that was funny because this is no laughing matter. All I did was ask why she needed another black bikini when there were three already buried underneath a pile of clothes on her bedroom floor.
Deep sigh. "They were only $5, mom."
"That's because a Kleenex could cover more of your body." I replied.
She didn't think that was funny either.
$15,000 a year to educate this kid and it all rides on a $5 investment. Now that's funny.
In my college day we boarded the Amtrak and headed south. I packed two bathing suits I'd worn since junior high school. My parents gave me $100 and a lift to the train station.
Now these kids start planning months in advance. The destination, wardrobe, who's included and who's not, is placed on a spreadsheet.
They book packages to the Bahamas. They go to Europe. They search on VRBO for a shabby-chic cottage in the Florida Keys owned by a rich New Yorker.
We get breaking spring break news as soon as our kids pull out of the campus parking lot: an Instagram photo from the airport, a tweet from the state line, an uploaded, but certainly edited, video the morning after they've arrived at their destination.
All my mom got in 1980 was a collect call from a pay phone telling her we had arrived safely.
"How's that seven-page paper coming?" I asked Charlie continuing our bikini crisis conversation.
"Fine. Do you think we should rent a kayak while we're there?" she asked, clearly on to more pressing matters.
"I see you have $5.26 left in your checking account to last you until March 7," I declared, ignoring her comment like she was ignoring mine.
"Yeah, uh.... oh wait, a kayak is included with the rental." she said, delighted with herself.
She's using money from the sale of her horse to fund this expedition. She's a senior and has declared this year will be different since last year's spring break included a cabin in western North Carolina that was surrounded by meth labs and chortling hound dogs.
I guess I shouldn't complain. Her four closest friends are studying abroad this semester, yet another expectation my generation missed out on. Facebook threads are plastered with glorious blogs from these girls traveling, eating and drinking their way through Italy, France, Hong Kong and New Zealand. I can't tell if there is any studying going on over there either.
The problem with Charlie is that she isn't the best planner. Her break is right around the corner. She knows she's headed to Florida, but few other details have been worked out. I know she'll pull an all-nighter to complete this project if she has to because that's the kind of dedication she puts into her education.
"I'll take you to the train station, if needed, baby," I offer.
"We're driving, but can you lend me $100 for gas money, mom?"
Now that's my girl. Give her an "A" for effort.