Monday, August 18, 2008

Back to School

"Was he excited?" Long Suffering Spouse asked.

I had just accompanied Youngest Son to school on his first day of sophomore year. Youngest Son drove. He has to accumulate 50 hours of time driving with a parent before he can get his license. Most of these hours will be obtained 15 minutes at a time, just like this morning.

"He did comment that there was a lot more traffic than he'd seen when we'd made this trip before," I told her. There are a lot more cars on the road at 6:45 a.m. on Monday than at 7:15 a.m. on Sunday.

"It's not the same, is it?" sighed Long Suffering Spouse. She was getting ready for her first day of school today, too. Classes at the grammar school where she teaches don't begin until next Monday, but there are meetings and seminars and all sorts of other command performances on the docket for this week.

"I remember when each kid was so excited to start school... and the next younger one would cry about being left alone," she said.

"Left out of the limelight, you mean."

"Well, that too." But Long Suffering Spouse was not going to let me puncture her sentimental moment. "By next Monday only Youngest Son will be at home," she sighed. "I'm going to miss them."

"Oh, sure," I said. No one to wake us up when they stomp up the stairs at 1:30 a.m. No one to leave the fans on all night when they're supposed to be turned off. Fewer glasses and plates to pick up in the morning --"

At this point I notice that I was getting the Death Glare. Long Suffering Spouse was not pleased that my attitude was so far out of alignment with hers. I apologized at once.

Then the phone rang. It was Older Daughter.

Older Daughter holds a degree in English from the University of Illinois. I contributed substantially to that enterprise. I told her, as I've told each of her siblings in turn, that she had eight semesters to do with as she pleased, to study what she wanted -- but, unfortunately, I could not contribute anything to her education beyond that point.

Naturally, Older Daughter did not believe me.

She took her degree in English and, somewhere around the end of that eighth semester, discovered that English majors are not highly recruited on campus. There are no signing bonuses for English majors.

So here were are, two years down the road, and Older Daughter has gone back to school. There are certain fields towards which English majors gravitate. Law, for instance.

But Older Daughter has selected nursing.

The good news is that she will find work if she completes the program. The bad news is that none of her hard-won mastery of the themes of Jane Austen or Geoffrey Chaucer satisfy any of the prerequisites of a nursing program. She may be able to explain iambic pentameter, but that won't help her start an IV.

So Older Daughter is working part-time at a Starbucks and studying chemistry and anatomy. She is also borrowing money like a Third World nation.

At the height of our current national credit crunch, this is not particularly easy. Banks have responded to their own irresponsibility in giving home loans to anyone who could hold a pen long enough to sign the papers by cutting out nearly all student loans.

No, I don't see the connection either. But there it is.

Today's crisis concerned a blemish on Older Daughter's credit report concerning a telephone company. The account allegedly has her name and social security number associated with it -- so naturally she was calling to accuse Long Suffering Spouse and me of not paying our bills.

I was so glad that Long Suffering Spouse took the call.

But it shattered her mood. Doubly chastened now, I tried to recapture the moment. "Yes," I said, improvising freely, "I remember those first days of school. The excitement over the new backpack. The crying on the way to school."

"But I always stopped, didn't I?" asked Long Suffering Spouse.

1 comment:

Fran said...

Mmmmmmmm.....good times, aren't they?