The Rite Of Passage


TWO OLD CROWS are sitting on a branch looking bored to tears. No, this isn’t the start of a joke — it’s part of the landscape on Interstate 5 as my daughter and I head home from a tour of six Southern California colleges.

It’s a rite of passage, I suppose, in the life of a mother and daughter. But tempting as it is to push the college of my choice, I’m reminded that the decision is really hers. I like small towns and skiing but it’s not about me and my needs. My teen wants sunshine and a big city — and Southern California has plenty of both.

Armed with a tattered copy of the college issue of U.S. News & World Report, we made the sweep of UC San Diego, San Diego State and then north to Los Angeles. Bleary-eyed, we inched through impossible traffic as we made a loop to see USC, UCLA, Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine.

At each university, we made it a point to peak in a classroom, grab a snack in the student union and check out the gym and fitness facilities. The guys were the cutest at Loyola Marymount and USC. That was my daughter’s observation, not mine. I noted that the visitor parking was best at Pepperdine and LMU, where there were plenty of free curb spots in the heart of campus.

All along the way we chatted up the highlights and low points of each visit, analyzing everything from the architecture to the colors of the beach cruisers in the campus bike racks.

We had an opinion on everything.

It remains to be seen whether my teen will actually apply to any of these schools, much less get accepted. But the good times we shared as mother and daughter were worth the effort. As far as spring breaks go — it was one for the books.

BACK TRACKING: Last week’s piece on actress Kat Foster spawned a conversation with her mom, Marilyn, in the hot tub at my swim club recently. Marilyn made a career out of teaching childhood development, and it shows. Both her daughter and son grew up in Montclair with the kind of confidence that led to their success in the entertainment industry. The secret to good parenting, Marilyn shared, is to watch as your kids take an interest in something and then help facilitate it. She’s started a Web site with parenting tips at http://www.raisingchildrenatoz.com.

TALENT SEARCH: Reader Jill Broadhurst (the force behind the new pocket park at the corner of Thornhill and Moraga) is trying to start a summer concert series in Montclair Park. She envisions the kickoff for the Fourth of July, and is looking for civic-minded musicians to perform for free. (think family entertainment, music you can munch to, picnic style). If you can help, contact Jill at beautification@montclairsic.org.

TURTLE WEAR: Could the man who created Zonk the Tortoise finally be coming out of his shell? Local artist David Hoobler has been quietly selling his Zonk watercolors and children’s books for years but is now branching out to pajamas. He’s partnered with Sara’s Prints to make whimsical PJs with colorful green turtles all over them. It’s dreamy sleep wear for kids. I only wish they made my size.

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