Daughter Changes in College

My daughter eats eel!

I knew there there would be changes for my daughter in college, but this?

This is the girl who when she was eight I had to sit at the table and cut pieces of meat and vegetables the size of rice kernels and insist she eat a few mouthfuls.

“I’m going to throw up,” she said.

“That’s fine,” I replied. “But if you throw up, you’ll have to clean it up yourself.”


We spent a couple of weeks like that to break her of an extremely nasty picky-eater habit. She never threw up and, after that, she always ate what I put in front of her.

However, during her growing up years, I never insisted she eat any fish beyond tuna or a little white fish. This is because I am personally picky about shellfish and other squiggly things that swim in the ocean. It may also be due to an extremely bad bout of food poisoning I once got from eating some crab.

So now Lauren is at a college near the coast, and she is telling me how much she loves being near the ocean where there is all this great seafood, and she really loves sushi.

My daughter the snake eater—I don’t believe it.

Now, my daughter the NASCAR driver—that I can believe.

One of my early conversations with her went like this:

“Mom, I just love the traffic down here.”

“What do you mean?”

“We went shopping in Santa Barbara and on the way back the freeway was packed.”

“Yeah? What’s so great about that?”

“I hardly had any room to move. It was such a challenge to change lanes.”

“And you liked that?”

“Yes. The roads here are so much more interesting than our dull old roads at home. I love it.”
And she really and truly meant it.

I made a mental note to light a candle for her at church.

Although she has a cell phone, her provider has terrible reception at her college. So it isn’t easy to make phone contact with her. But there is one big spreading oak tree on campus where she can get some reception. When I do get a call from her, I can picture exactly where she is under the oak tree. At night when she calls, I can hear the campus dog barking in the background.

One time she called and we chatted as a vicious mattress tug war was going on in the background between the boys’ dormitories. She said that although there were rules, if one side cheated it could get pretty ugly. I was glad of her gender.

Another weekend, she drove into Los Angeles, about a 45 minute drive, to visit her uncle. They went on a 17-mile bike ride. Then she drove back to campus to make it to a school dance. She e-mailed me, “Last night was our first official dance: the freshman-sophomore dance. It was sooo much fun, I danced for almost five hours straight. I really like the dances here; it’s such a relaxed atmosphere. You don’t only dance with the people you know; actually everyone pretty much dances with everyone else. I think I’m going to be a pretty good swing dancer by the time the next four years are up!”

Wow! A 17-mile bike ride and then five hours of dancing?

I feel really, really old.

That e-mail I was particularly glad to get. Knowing she had been in Los Angeles, I had worried that she might not get back to school safely and that no one would notice. I e-mailed back and told her “I’m so glad you made it back safely. I was worried you wouldn’t make it back to campus and no one would notice until Monday. Be sure to tell Jill [her roommate] that if-you-don’t-come-back-when-you-say-you-are, alert-the-Highway-Patrol!”

Come to think of it, she never did acknowledge this excellent advice. Maybe I had better write her again.

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