So our girls enter senior year without a whole lot of hoopla. Each was working a part time job…were in and out of love with a boy…not the same boy, mind you. They built their own class schedules without parental input (at least from our side). It wasn’t that we didn’t want to have a discussion, it’s that we were never approached to have it. We gather from things the girls said that their Mom was plenty involved…ahem. Anyway, we began to wonder out loud whether the girls had looked into college at all. Neither seemed interested or concerned much about it, there were after all parties to attend, games to go to, shopping to do. We asked a time or two about whether or not they had looked into taking their SAT exams and got the same lackluster responses. We tried to explain how quickly the year was going to go, how important all the research and planning was….nothing. I sat there sort of in amazement at their lack of concern for their own future. It was as if it was all just going to come…just going to fall into place. I’ve looked back and can see how part of this is our fault; parents of our generation or at least many of us I think. I mean, other than maybe making a team (which I do not diminish in the least), what have these children ever had to work for? It has just all been there; the food, the nice warm beds, the parents who care, the clothes, the manis and pedis, the hairdos, the activities, later even the cars, just poof there it was. So why on earth would they understand that it was actually going to take effort on their part to….well….make a life!
Finally the girls let us know that they were about to take those exams and it’s late late late in their school year by this time. We have had conversations by then with several of our friends some with kids the same age as ours and some younger. When asked what was going on with our girls, I must admit some bewilderment and some embarrassment. When the scores camr in they weren’t good. They were just ok. And of course due to their procrastination. they didn’t have time to re-take the exams and make any college admission deadlines so stuck with those scores as they were. Swell. I myself began to refamiliarize myself with this whole thing and read to the girls what the odds of being admitted to even local universities actually were with scores like theirs. I just got those looks like whatever, I’m not concerned. Here.where we live.we have a big time University and up the road we have a pretty well respected Ag school. Big big rivalry and my hubby just hates that other school. So when our oldest declares he wants to go there, he also declared Vet science as his area of interest; sort of a no-brainer in our parts so we let that one go. When it came time for the girls to apply, they each applied to and were accepted at both, one stayed local, another one jumped ship and went down the road, much to Dad’s dismay. What happened next seemed like a whirlwind. While one of our daughters spent the summer hanging out with her boyfriend and applying for jobs, the other daughter worked. We tried, on multiple occasions, to involve the girls in a conversation about the practical side of the decision of where to go to school; not the least of which was how it was to be financed. Me in more subtle ways, my husband in louder not so subtle ways. The closest we got was being informed that their Mom was visiting the campuses with them…oh okay…and then I was able to talk to them a little about the difference between the effort college was going to take vs high school. I helped them apply for a scholarship which they approached half heartedly. To their credit they applied for and were granted some scholarship money and apparently took out some loans but we weren’t involved in that conversation or that process. We were never asked anything about our college experiences, how to approach choosing classes, none of that. We were somewhat hurt and frankly confused. I mean, one daughter was talking about going off, living in a dorm and then added sorority life and all that to the mix, the other local daughter, never to be bested by her sister if she can help it, signs up to live in the dorm; less than 5 miles from our house. Applauding their independence, yet still very unclear how all this was to be paid for, we just sort of stood by. We felt like we knew what was going to happen and in fact it did…when it came time to pay for things, we were just presented a bill. I remember before we got to that point saying to each of the girls as respectfully as I knew how….look I said, I know you love your Mom and she’s been sort of taking the reigns here but why would you rely solely on the advice of the only parent you have who has never attended college? I mean I can’t make sense out of it. I asked either one if they knew what a semester of school was going to cost and neither one did. Do you know what the sorority costs? Not exactly. Do you know what it costs to live in the dorm? no, but it’s not that bad…do you have a job lined out? No, on one count..the one moving away. I told them look, you are at a very important time in your life and it scares and concerns me that you have taken no real initiative to research all this, you’re just plowing forward and with your Mom in charge, who is just a doe-eyed about this entire experience as you are. I just got empty looks and shrugged shoulders so at that point I thought ok, I’m out.
The first e-mail from their Mom asking for money came when she wanted 1/2 the deposit on two dorm rooms. And this was hard, but our logic was no, you didn’t want us to help before, we’re not going to help now…sorry that’s not how this works. Secretly my husband plans to let the first year of college go and let them struggle then we will re-assess what we even can do to help. Had we been consulted in the first place we could have told them that since their Mother moved about 1 hour away, our biggest contribution to their schooling would have been free room and board, maybe books…free food…laundry room, but we never got to tell them that.
So we put our big step mom and Dad pants on and helped each girl get moved in…and now we’re in our first semester….let’s see what that has to bring!!
It’s hard to stand by and watch your kids think they know it all when you know they don’t…and there is little you can do about it when there isn’t agreement across the board with the parents.
Smart people make use of the resources available to them. People who aren’t smart yet don’t, it seems.
When you’re a parent, sometimes admitting what you don’t know the answers is the thing to do…..more on that later.
At times when it’s most important for split parents to pull together for the sake of helping the kids…and then they can’t…the kids pay. They always pay…