Practical Dad

Keep Talking, They’re Listening

You repeat yourself so often that you'd like a recorder attached to the hip that would say the phrases so you can save your voice.  Hang up the towel.  Put your cleats and shinguards in the garage.  Put your dishes in the sink, I'm not the butler.  Are they even listening?  With three kids in three different levels of school and typically surrounded by constant media, I wonder whether they even listen to what I'm saying.  But there are occasional moments that reveal that they are indeed listening to you.

A case in point is the other evening's interaction with Eldest.  Eldest is faced with the upcoming SAT and we were in the process of registering her online for the month-away exam.  Each registrant is allowed to have the results released - free of charge - to four colleges or universities for recruiting and information purposes and additional ones are for a fee.  This actually serves to focus the youngster's mind on the prospect that college is no longer some far-off dream but something with real implications, and that the college literature that's coming daily really has meaning.  And now Eldest actually had to sit and make some choices as to her preferences out of the dozens that have contacted her.

As we've talked over the past two years, my concern has been that an education is imperative to survive and prosper in the world.  My other concern however, is that the education must occur without the addition of such levels of student debt that her future after college is crippled with student loan payments.  There might have to be some debt, but it should be minimized as much as possible. 

Eldest is like most other kids and looks forward to leaving home for the experience.  The house rules are so restrictive for someone who's obviously old enough to handle herself and there are so many friends with whom to spend time and activities to enjoy.  Let's face it, we're raising our children to make their way in the world and become productive adults; we won't turn them away if they have to come home but it's not what either parent or child necessarily wants. 

This is why I was truly surprised when Eldest added the name of the local state university that sits three blocks away from our home.  It's a good school in it's own right and has even received national kudos for some of the programs but it isn't really what she wants.  At that moment, I became the child focused on dreams and she became the adult who looked at reality and I inquired why she was adding it to the list.  Because I want them to have my results in case I have to go there because of money.  That's when I knew that she understood what I've been saying for the past several years; part of her experience will depend upon her ability to attract scholarship money and the competition is fierce enough that enough of that money won't come to her.

We have two years left of high school and she has the intellectual firepower to pull it off - God knows she didn't get the book smarts from me.  But she's also demonstrating an ability to look beyond and understand that dreams have to be tempered by resources and choices. 

I had to remind her the other night to put her cleats and shinguards in the garage and the towel is still wadded up on the bed.  But it's encouraging to know that she's listening to what I'm saying and processing it, so I'll just keep talking.

 

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