This is what Peter’s doing instead of college paperwork.

(College paperwork…right…old term. It’s all online now. Whatever. The point is, he’s not doing it.)

If you’ve been following this transition-to-college saga, and I wouldn’t blame you at all if you’re not,  you might remember that we were all but done with the lion’s share of the bigger decision-making aspects of this process. He’d decided, if begrudgingly, on UC Santa Cruz–which was the granddaddy of all decisions. Huge decision; I’ve written a lot about it. He had made his college-within-the-college selection and been accepted into Stevenson, which seemed a good fit. He’d filled out the dorm application and decided on a meal plan. We’d selected a date for our orientation (yes, our, because parents simultaneously attend their own orientation), and built our summer plans around that and move-in day and the first day of classes. He’d even, with the help of our friend Wes, set up a face-to-face meeting with a real live Santa Cruz physics professor, one who wrote the book on string theory, literally, which was going to help him feel connected and confident and enthusiastic.

We’d made great progress! We were finally settling in for the summer. The college application-acceptance–enrollment process was almost just a fading nightmare.

But then something extraordinary happened. But before I mention that, a little more backstory:

Recall that way back when, all the way back to last Fall and extending into February, he’d had to decide which colleges to even apply to. This was one laborious, teeth pulling process. (Ha, ha, did I say “process?” A process might suggest some method to the madness. There was some, but of course it wasn’t the kind of process one imagines and hopes for, the exhaustive and thoughtful process outlined in the numerous books that offer guidance on such huge, life-altering, momentous decisions.) He’d not only had to narrow down the universe of schools and select a reasonable number of reach schools, good bets, and fall backs, but he also had to pull together the applications for said schools. That was months of sheer hell, a smidge exciting, but largely difficult. Wrote plenty about that, too.

Still, he managed twelve applications. I’m not sure how, but he did, with help (thanks to Brooke), but wow. Twelve applications in by deadline. He ended up getting accepted at four, waitlisted at four and rejected at four (which somewhat, but not completely, corresponded to the reach, good and sure bet distinctions). High among his hopefuls was UC San Diego. UCSD emerged as a top choice when Berkeley and UCLA seemed ridiculously unattainable, and NYU and other out of state schools too expensive. Alas, UCSD turned out to be one of schools at which is was waitlisted. Which was a little heartbreaking and left him with choices that did not excite him. Blah blah blah… Santa Cruz it was.

Well, cutting to the chase here..

Lo and behold, at 1:30am a couple of days ago, he learned he’d been accepted at UCSD. Practically his dream school (discounting Cal Tech and MIT, which he didn’t even bother applying to, and the aforementioned Berkeley and UCLA).  He’d made a practice of checking his admission status at UCSD daily–often several times daily–since the date he’d been notified of his waitlist status. Some UCs were admitting students from their waitlists, but not all. It’s a big UC shuffle thing, based first on one’s qualifications, and secondly on who’s accepted where, and where they ultimately decide to go. I presume the whole thing is just very complicated and it’s also different every single year, completely dependent on the applicant pool, which is ever evolving. Well, with a June 1 close to the UC acceptance process looming, his chances were dwindling. He hadn’t heard from either UC Irvine or UC San Diego. But he still checked regularly.

So, as you might imagine, when he casually checked his status, not expecting anything different than the hundreds of previous checks, and found his status changed, he was ecstatic. His acceptance was huge news–thus the announcement at 1:30am, excitedly, loudly delivered next to our bed.  He was over the moon.

I lay there, awake, for the next three hours processing this. UCSD is more his concept of the college experience: a bigger school, taller buildings, more students, greater energy, lots of sports programs. UCSD is highly ranked among other UCs academically and has a very good physics program. It has a great study abroad program, a baseball club team, a beautiful library and proximity to a big city (sorta). Peter’s very good friend and fellow pitcher Ray is also an entering freshman and Ray’s older brother Bobby is a senior this year, on the baseball club team and can serve as a bit of a mentor. Torrey Pines golf course is across the street. Our friend Rick’s son is a professor there. Did I mention tall buildings?

UCSD is my alma mater.

He’s thrilled. UCSD speaks to him. He’s proud of himself. Instead of feeling resigned about his choice, he feels excited, and very, very pleased. He is ready to be identified as a Triton. (But really, who wouldn’t want to be a Banana Slug??) As his mom, I’m so grateful he is starting off his college experience feeling good about where he’s going instead of the alternative. We were making a lot of lemonade about Santa Cruz. Truth be told, it would have been a fine experience, but he was lacking the kind of enthusiasm you want them to have when embarking on such a big chapter in their lives.

So it is all fantastic. And it’s a bunch of forms, processes, refunds, to do lists, calls, emails. We have to undo all the Santa Cruz stuff, including that nice meet up with the physics professor, and start anew with San Diego. With everything: his UCSD account, mail, ID, his orientation, dorm, meal plan. All the dates to know, all the deadlines. And it’s all bearing down on us in the next two days. All of it has to be done. On this holiday weekend.

One would have thought that with all this new-found enthusiasm and gratefulness, he’d plow through the forms like nobody’s business, that he’d be so quick on the draw it’d make our heads spin. Like he’d want to confirm and secure his spot and quickly get to where he was just a couple days ago with Santa Cruz: done and ready. He’d done it before, he’d just do it again.

But no.

He says he hasn’t fully decided. (What?! Jim says that is about controlling the process, being in charge, being independent. Not to worry.) Peter is going to let this go right up until the final moment. If it’s not due until May 31, he’s not going to move on it until then. I’m going to have to back off, let it go, chill.

Not my strong suit.

All I can do (or should do) is watch from the sidelines and gently support when/if asked. Let him fail if that’s where this is going. Santa Cruz is a fine choice!

And I can document with incriminating photos.