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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Love and learning


She called me on Wednesday to say she had just taken her final college class ever, and now all that was left were papers and projects, no finals. She sounded exhilarated, but admitted to some ambivalence about leaving her college years behind. "All I had to do for the last four years was go to classes and learn," she said. "I mean how much better does it get than that." Her brother had a completely different view when he made the same call three years ago. He had no ambivalence whatsoever about being done with college, though he knew he would miss the social part. But when the classes and papers and tests were completed, he felt as if a great weight had been lifted. 

And then he moved back to the city and went right back into a classroom setting to qualify as an EMT. Learning is easy for him when it's active and relates to emergency medicine because he's dedicated to the idea of being a first responder. He'd be an excellent emergency room doctor, but won't consider medical school because he can't imagine adding so many more years of classrooms to his life. And yet, before the FDNY called recently, he'd actually begun to think about becoming a nurse practitioner. He seems to have put that idea back on the shelf in favor of his original dream—becoming a firefighter/paramedic. "I love school more than he does," his sister reflected. "I love the feeling that my mind is going to explode with what I'm learning. I wonder if that means I should go to grad school? But to do what?" 

I am in that place of wanting to know the good and purposeful outcomes so I can watch the movie of my children's lives with a sense of peace. But that's not how it works. I get to have all the suspense as it happens, and I have to just trust that they have the tools and the grit and the humor to meet their challenges, and make it all come out okay. (My daughter's friend since first grade, who is also about to graduate, took that picture of her. She gave me permission to post it.) 

24 comments:

  1. Eternal mysteries that we cannot know the answers to until they unfold as they will.
    What a beautiful picture of your beautiful daughter. Has there ever been a bad picture taken of her? I doubt it.

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    1. Ah Mary, the mysteries. I am not good with the unresolved, hence my general agita about life. Life is nothing if not unresolved!

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  2. Long time lurker-first time commenter. I have a 15 year old daughter who is considering college, and I am wondering-is it worth it? The great expense, the time? I know, by reading, that your children are not who they are simply for their education-their parents are tremendous advocates who have loved and nurtured and sheltered them. I am just wondering if you would change anything about their educational paths.

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    1. Ashley, I'm so glad you commented so I'd know you're here. I definitely think my kids have benefitted from their college experiences, perhaps most of all from being on their own and having to juggle their academic, social and other responsibilities. There are of course many considerations but if your daughter *wants* to go to college that's probably a good indication that she'd get a lot from the experience. I do think it's important for her to choose a college where she will feel comfortable and engaged. My kids went to very different types of schools because they're really different kids. My husband sees it a little differently. He thinks wherever you go, you make the best of it. Maybe that's also true. Where are you located? And what is your girl interested in studying? Good luck to her!

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  3. I think it's a shame that much of the world thinks of college merely as job training. Your daughter has a healthier approach -- that love of learning, as well as the social and personal strengthening that come (as you said) from being on their own. That's what college really is all about, isn't it? I remember being quite ready to graduate when I did, and then within a few years I wanted back in! But I never did go back. I think I mostly just wanted to retreat from adult responsibilities for a while.

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    1. Steve, I so agree with you. I think college is about learning how to be in the world under your own steam, and about developing the qualities of mind and character to sustain you through all that follows. Admittedly, tuition was a "thing," but it doesn't have to be. There are lots of affordable options for college these days. I do think living away from home is an invaluable experience so I'm glad both my kids chose to go away to school. Of course, New York real estate being what it is, they're both rebounding back home after college, though my boy says he's moving out this year, and my girl isn't planning to be at home with us for long. I'm fine with them being here in the meanwhile though. I'm glad they have that option.

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  4. I'm happy for both kids because whatever they end up doing, they'll be fine and so will you. Congratulations to your daughter!

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  5. It is awesome that your daughter loves learning just for the sake of learning. But is it just as cool that your son wants to go out and do life.

    I like the term "first responder" because I think of when I do palliative as a "last responder".

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    1. Birdie, I never really thought of palliative care in that way, but you're so right!

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  6. That is a million dollar smile :)

    Your kids both seem very well tuned in to their inmost selves, which is a big advantage. And they have two very helpful parents to be their sounding boards and advisors. That is invaluable.

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    1. jenny_o, when my daughter started high school, a counselor there told us that now we would effectively be fired as parents and it was our job to get rehired as advisors and counselors. I found that fascinating then, and true now.

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  7. Congratulations to your daughter!!!

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  8. Ah the suspense of life as we know it! Very well put,"I get to have all the suspense as it happens, and I have to just trust that they have the tools and the grit and the humor to meet their challenges, and make it all come out okay." BB ain't that big yet but just trusting life and having hope and faith when he and Hubster leave the house, that is suspense for me as I struggle with my anxiety and you sum it up so well! It's out of our hands, we simply have to wait and see and hope *zen moment* Thank you ;) and congrats to your daughter! I'm glad she can appreciate her school time and cherish it :)

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    1. Hannah, that idea that I must endeavor to control all outcomes so as to ensure good ones is so exhausting to me. I am trying for that zen moment you refer to. Love.

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  9. Wow. I feel like I've personally known her since she was little. I want to hug her in that photo. I want to congratulate her and you and everyone. Then I want to meet your son for coffee and try to convince to be an emergency room doctor. LOL

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    1. Kimberly, you DID watch her grow up. She was still in middle school when I began this blog and now she's graduating college! I'm watching your babies grow up too. It really is an extraordinary journey to observe. Hugs.

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  10. I hope you know that I watch and follow your kids' progress and your terrific parenting because it helps me with my own.

    And that photo of your daughter is gorgeous. She is gorgeous and radiant, always.

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    1. Elizabeth, my terrific parenting, ha! My kids would have dissertations worth of stuff to say about that! Fortunately, they'd be laughing, so it's not all bad. xo

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  11. A confusing time in life, graduating college. I feel certain that your children will find their paths and walk them with grace.

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    1. Brittany, thank you, friend. Your mouth to God's ear.

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