I don't think I'm getting old.
I know I'm getting old.
And I don't mean this in the bad "back when I was your age" way. I mean it in the "I wish I knew then what I know now" way.
Because if I knew then what I knew now, I would have accepted that invitation to graduate school for my Masters in Journalism.
I would have gone on that backpacking trip to Europe.
I would have gone with that guy to California "just for the hell of it."
Not to say I regret my life. I don't, not one minute of it. But what if I had done those things? Where would I be now?
I'm still goal oriented. I intend on getting my PhD in Comparative Literature, getting published in The English Journal and Elle, and writing a book.
But for my sons? I'm not so sure that they need to have it all figured it out by the time they're 18.
I had some family members over last week, and the women were talking about which prep schools they were going to send their kids to, so they would get accepted to good Ivy League colleges. Now, mind you, no one has asked the kids what they want.
All I envision for my sons is happiness. I can't picture them any other way. In the truck on the way to the beach today they were singing a random song, and it went something like, "Today will be the best day ever," and in between choruses they talked about the waves they were going to surf.
Now correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't happy children what we are trying to grow?
I'm torn. I felt very behind the ball after this "prep school" conversation with these women. Sending my kids away to a prep school, and not see them until holidays? Who does this? Am I short-changing them by expecting them to attend Ocean City High, get into a good college, get a degree in something they love, and be happy?
So I asked them. I explained the advantages, and told them that a prep school education was financially viable if it was something they wanted.
They don't want it, but they're young. Do I give them a choice, or do I insist that I know better?
I think it is a very dangerous premise to decide your child's future for him. Because as I listened to these women decide what is best for their children, it occurred to me that not one of them asked their kids what they wanted.
There is a New York Times article floating around online right now about how twenty somethings are not focused. "They can't focus," the naysayers say. But the author recants,
"We can see the forest through the trees. We just want to get to the forest in one piece."
If my sons told me after high school graduation that they wanted to travel around and surf for a year, I would not only agree, I would applaud.
Life is so short. I wish someone had told me at 18 that I could take my time and see the world before I went to college.
Everything worked out for me, and I wouldn't change anything. But who are these women who are planning their children's lives at six, eight and 10 years of age?
I want my kids to be so happy that they break out into verses of "This is the best day ever" for no reason. The joy coming from them was palpable.
I don't want them to live up to some ideal that at 18, they are relegated to four, eight or ten more years of school right away. If this is what they want, great.
But if not?
Life is too short.