An Orientation Mystery

July 19, 2016

Sandwiched in between the chaos on the home front was Ethan’s college orientation at Virginia Tech.

We arrived at the hotel Sunday night, the 17th (yes, another hotel) and had a lovely dinner out with a friend. By the end of the dinner, I realized Abby wasn’t feeling well. Fever, cough.

Back at the hotel, Ethan realized “we’d” forgotten some important things he needed to register properly for the Corps of Cadets.

So, we’re all freaking out. On top of that, Ethan’s rattling off a million questions about how orientation will be and I finally had to say (me, the anxious one), “I don’t know. We’ve never done this before. But, it’ll be fine. We’ll figure it all out when we get there. It’ll all be okay.”

Somehow, that worked. It's a ginormous mystery! And, yes, it ended up being true. Imagine that! Even Abby rallied and made it through!

Orientation was neat, not just because of the obvious - learning about the school and college life - but because looking around, we were all the same.

I noticed it in the kids first. Nervous faces, uncertainty, using their phones to hide their anxieties, avoiding eye contact, keeping heads down. All this, I picked up just from the kids on the shuttle from the parking lot in the morning.

A minute after observing their nervousness, I spotted it equally in the parents, though parents hide it better. No smiles, no talking, secretly sizing each other up - I did this. I eyed the bags the moms carried - were they more practical than mine? Or shoes - had I worn the right ones?

That morning shuttle - you could hear a pin drop.

By lunch, the tensions eased. Ethan disappeared with his group. The next time I saw him, he was walking with his group, talking to some guy, and he was so into the conversation, that he walked right by us without noticing we were there. By the end of the day, he’d made some friends and spent the night on campus.

The coolest part of orientation for us was learning about the Corps of Cadets.

Ethan has chosen to give up the typical fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants college experience for a regimented, disciplined, rigorous soldier-like existence. He’ll wear a uniform all day, every day. He’ll clean bathrooms, and be up at 5:00 in the morning. He’ll have mandatory study hours and lights out. He’s choosing to give up TV and Playstation and his beard (which is pretty impressive) and his hair. It’s crazy, but he wants to give it a try. I’m extremely proud of him.

Orientation was so successful that we left as soon as it was over, instead of spending another night like we planned. We saved one night at the hotel, two visits for Brownie’s dog sitter, and another day off work for Joe. Besides, we were well-oriented and with Abby feeling under the weather, we wanted to get home, even if it meant getting back to the chaos.

“In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul.

If you find it, you will have a bright future,

and your hopes will not be cut short.”

Proverbs 24:14