Sunday, August 21, 2011

I miss my baby. But I'm really disappointed in her, too.

I had the dubious honor of taking my little girl to college this past week. She's only a few hours away, but she's homesick. Or, rather, she doesn't think college is for her. I'm not sure how a person can tell that after two days and before classes even start, but there you have it.

When I talk to her on the phone, she sounds so sad. So very sad. And that isn't her personality. In fact, she has a smile that you can hear in her voice. She is usually so outgoing and bubbly. She is normally a kid who makes friends easily, yet she's spent every spare moment so far sitting in her dorm. Yes, I realize the upside is that she isn't out partying, but she isn't out doing anything else, either. One of my favorite sounds in the world is her laughter, and I miss it. Like crazy.

I don't understand where she's coming from. I honestly and truly don't.

You see, she's fortunate enough to have this golden opportunity. Due to some circumstances, she has college practically paid for. She is being handed an education right there on a silver platter and she acts like she doesn't want it.

I know I'm biased. I think a college degree is important. Very important. So important, in fact, that I spent a total of 15 years trying to get mine. I won't go into the statistics of how much more a college graduate makes over a lifetime. It's a significant difference. Are there more important things then money? Of course there are. At least there are until you can't pay the rent. Then money becomes a bit more important. What's that phrase? Money can't buy happiness, but it's more comfortable to be miserable in a BMW than on a 10-speed. Something like that... A college degree is the difference between working in a coffee shop and owning the coffee shop.

And despite what she claims from customers at the restaurant she worked at, I've never heard of anyone who regretted getting their degree, but I know plenty of people who regret not getting one. (Hey, if I'm wrong, let me know!) Besides her education is practically paid for! Where is the "waste of money" if it isn't your money? (And why couldn't she come up with that moral argument when she wanted a car/prom dress/TOMS/new flat iron?) Where is waste if you take advantage of a limited time opportunity?

I hate to admit it, but I know that if she leaves school I will loose a certain amount of respect for her as a person. Don't misunderstand!! I will always love my baby. And yes, I want her to be happy. I just want her to also be educated. At 18, she has no idea what's going to happen in the next 5-10-30 years. And in all that time, she will need a roof over her head, food in her belly. But I will always remember that she had this chance, one that I had to work so much harder for, and she tossed it aside like a rotten tomato.

I honestly don't care what her degree is in. History? Fine. English? Fine. Physical Therapy? Fine. Counseling? Fine. Underwater Basket Weaving? Fine. I just want her to have that college degree. To have something she can use to fall back on later.

In the current economy, there are enough people unemployed (and, to be fair, underemployed). Many of them are fighting for those minimum wage jobs. Competition can be fierce. An education is a way to give yourself an advantage.

Plus, with all the general classes required, a college student learns a lot of things which can open their minds to so many more opportunities. And opportunities open more doors.

The idea of her miserable breaks my heart, it makes me cry. But I'm not giving in on this one. It's more important for her to have that sheepskin, to take advantage of this opportunity she's being given. I know it's harsh, but if she drops out, she's on her own. No more funds from mom and dad. We will support her as long as she remains in school: car insurance, health insurance, laundry money, whatever it takes. We'll even help once she graduates and is actively looking for work in any field. But not if she leaves school. That's a decision I can't support. And the thought of that breaks my heart.

I know that at 18, she is considered a legal adult. She's made decisions in her six months of adult-hood that I disagree with. She still hasn't registered to vote, which just bugs the crap outta me. We won't discuss the septum piercing. *shiver*

I will always love her. Always. More than she can possibly imagine. But I can't support her making a decision that will limit her future. Maybe I'm just a snob. Maybe I'm I worry too much. Maybe I'm just an overprotective mother who wants what is best for her child. Maybe I'm so cheap that I can't imagine throwing away such an opportunity just because. Maybe I'm letting the sadness in her voice get the best of me.

I think the next few weeks will be tough. On all of us. And I wish it weren't. I wish I'd hear the smile again. I wish she would look toward the future instead of acting like she was stuck in a prison.

Me
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