Friday, March 30, 2007
Lend a hand — now it's your turn
Tomorrow, Saturday, March 31, from 9 a.m. until noon, is the annual Mosquito Trash Party. This is the 35th annual Mosquito Trash Party, which was begun on October 14, 1973 when staff from the Mosquito and a group of teenagers spent the day cleaning up trash on Concord, Lowell and Westford Streets and Bedford Road.
Over the years the Trash Party has grown into a community-wide roadside pick-up of trash and litter by individuals and civic groups. Off-road areas, away from traffic, are also covered and are the ones assigned to younger groups of children.
Recently we have been reading articles in this newspaper about the people who serve on town committees and boards — the Finance Committee, the Planning Board, the Board of Health, the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Conservation Commission and last week, the Board of Selectmen. When you read these articles you realize the time and energy that these townspeople give to making things work in Carlisle. They spend hours at evening meetings, studying issues facing the town, and solving problems for the citizens of the town. When you consider the hours these people donate, wouldn't the Mosquito Trash Party be the perfect opportunity for others of us in Carlisle to give back one morning or at least several hours to make us proud to live in our town?
Individuals, families, neighbors and students who wish to earn community service can stake a "trash claim" on his or her street or neighborhood. Call Trash Party Coordinator Lynne Carpenito to sign up, at 1-978-371-7508. A few more pickup trucks at noontime could also help take filled trash bags to the Transfer Station.
Others who wish to help out should just show up at the parking lot next to Ferns in the center of town at 9 a.m. to pick up trash bags, help yourself to a cup of coffee or some juice along with a donut hole, and let Carpenito know where you will be collecting trash so she can direct pickup trucks to those streets at noontime.
With snowdrifts finally melting away and temperatures rising into the 50s and 60s, tomorrow should be a great day to gather together outdoors for an event that gives back to the town. Come with your family or do it alone, wear gloves, and collect the trash into bags that may be left off to the side of the road or taken by you to the Transfer Station. There is instant gratification in taking part in a community activity like this and it should be lots of fun.
Letting them go
These past two weeks have been my son's spring break from his junior year in high school. This can mean just one thing: The College Tour.
Like many Carlisle parents with recent high school juniors, the first thing Karen and I learned is that the strange process of college selection now is nothing like what we experienced back in the dark ages. Though our kids are smarter and have infinitely more interesting resumes filled with extracurriculars, colleges are also infinitely harder to get into than they were for us. So it takes a lot more planning. And the time to start is now!
The applications aren't due until well after next fall's World Series after the Red Sox have either come tantalizingly close only to dash our high hopes once again or have actually performed another miracle and won it all after a much shorter than 86-year wait. (I digress.) But there is much to accomplish and there's no better time than spring break of high school junior year.
The buzzword is finding the right "match." While stressing that everyone involved has to be careful not to get overly stressed, the experts reveal to us the categories above and below real matches: "reaches" and "safeties." (At my daughter's college, one of the taunting cheers at athletic events against their archrival is "Safety School!")
Our task: narrow the huge field of fine colleges to a select few that are a good "match" for our sons or daughters, while also selecting a few "reaches" that are perhaps less of a sure thing in terms of the likelihood of acceptance and a few "safety" schools that will eliminate the prospect of high school advisors being sued for failing to get our kids accepted somewhere.
Our children are supposed to "take the lead" in the process. To help them do so, we ask them questions (or ask ourselves these questions about them and then telepathically tell them our answers): Will he or she prefer a large urban school or a small one in a rural college town? Or like Goldilocks, decide that one in-between is "just right?" Close to home or as far away as they can get? Or far enough that we won't be tempted to visit, but close enough that it feels safe and they can come home every now and then for a weekend of laundry and home cooking?
Among the things I find strange about this process is that it is impossible to predict some of the critical factors that will determine if the "match" will ultimately feel just right or only so-so. Things like freshman year roommates. Or if they'll meet the loves of their lives in their first six months on campus. Or not.
Stranger still is the fact that our proper role as parents is fundamentally to empower our children to leave us. Just as we helped them learn to walk as toddlers, we must now help them take the first big steps on a journey towards being independent adults with lives of their own. As Aaron and I visited a half dozen schools these past two weeks, this thought was never far from my mind.
Aaron's older sister, Casey, is going to spend her junior year abroad in Salamanca, Spain. We're proud of her, and marveled at her maturity as she decided on this adventure. But Spain is far away. I want Aaron to become equally independent as he makes his own mark in the wide world that awaits him, too. It's just wicked hard to let them go.
© 2007 The