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tricia booker

tricia booker
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, United States
December 20
Tricia Booker is an award-winning journalist and neurotic writer of creative nonfiction. She lives in Ponte Vedra, Florida with her husband, two daughters, one son and a dog. She has written for many publications including Notre Dame Magazine, Folio Weekly, Minnesota's Law & Politics and the Vero Beach Press-Journal. She has taught creative writing to middle schoolers and journalism to college students. She's currently a dedicated domestic engineer.

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AUGUST 23, 2009 8:50AM

Why college is important. For parents.

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Husband and I don’t argue much in front of the kids, mainly because it seems silly to add to whatever neurotic tendencies they’ll develop simply by living with me, but also because I’m nearly always right and I don’t want to constantly correct him in front of  his children. 

But the other night I was so right about something that I had to give him the dagger eyes while speaking to the Diva in a soothing tone through a clenched jaw. It wasn’t pretty.

It started because the Diva was counting up how many years she has until high school. She figured it out - she has 7 years until high school - then added, “and then after high school, I’ll go to college.”

And Husband said, “Right! If you want to go to college.”

At this point I might have blacked out for a minute, but I’m pretty sure my eyes bulged and my hand flew up to my chin to keep my jaw from falling to the kitchen floor. 

I used my sweetest, most enthusiastic voice and said, “Of course she’ll go to college!” I turned to the Diva. “Daddy’s just teasing. Right, Daddy?”

Husband looked at me not at all sheepishly. “If she wants to,” he said.

Then the conversation devolved into a ridiculous “uh-huh” vs. “nuh-uh” type back and forth with the children watching intently like it was Pinky Dinky Doo and SpongeBob Squarepants involved in an angry game of badminton. 

Husband got specific. What if she wanted to go into the military, he asked. Again, I had the whole eye-bulging, jaw-catching thing, but I controlled myself. “ROTC,” I responded. Suppose she wants to be a rock star, he countered. Conservatory of music, I replied. 

Finally the Tyrant started screaming about something and the debate morphed into whether I should open a bottle of Cabernet or just have a beer.

Now, the truth is that I’m not terribly concerned about the Diva going to college. In my humble maternal opinion, she is the most beautiful child on the face of the planet and will obviously be a supermodel by age 17 and, it’s true, a rock star soon thereafter. But doesn’t it seem premature to already be giving her permission to ditch college? It seems a little like confirming that ketchup is indeed a vegetable before she’s old enough to appreciate tomatoes. Also, I don’t want her to get a big head. 

I do find that I’m less worked up than I thought I’d be about my children’s futures, perhaps because I find other parents far too worked up about it. I don’t need my kids to make a ton of money to take care of me in my old age. I’m hoping my parents don’t expect that of me, though I’d be happy to check with our homeowners association about getting a trailer out back. 

I’m much more focused on the happiness and well-being of my children, and on manners. I’ve always said that my kids might end up in juvenile court but, dammit, they’re going to say “yes, sir” and “no, ma’am” to the judge when the time comes to speak. Really, I think manners can take you far in this world.

Plus there’s the whole college fund issue, which we haven’t really addressed because we’re finding pre-school costs way too taxing. We keep hoping that, by the college years, our kids will be good at something so they’ll have a chance at scholarships. Maybe the Pterodactyl’s creative trash-talking indicates a propensity for basketball, or the Tyrant’s ability to accurately throw things at her brother’s head shows a talent for softball. 

I’m afraid the Diva might be really good at dating, which presents a complicated set of problems and is another reason I’d like to set her sights on college ASAP. 

A friend who has two little girls recently confided in me that he didn’t understand why people got so worked up over teenage pregnancy. He just wants his girls to be happy, he said, and if they have babies younger than expected, then he’s just fine with that.

I had to disagree, mainly because teenagers having babies, to me, means mothers of teenagers having to deal with babies ... again. And by that time I can promise I’ll be too tired to do it all again.

All of this means that I think it would be very nice if my kids went to college, and if they don’t, it better be because they found something better to do, which will be fine with me as long as they can be self-sufficient, at least for a while.

Because by then, I’ll just need a little time to myself. That, in my opinion, is what sending your kids to college is all about.


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Thanks, Elena! Slightly jealous of your empty-nestedness...
Thanks for the smiles! Absolutely--send them away and then there is no question about the cabernet or beer--you can have both! guilt free! My daughter went away to college but now has returned to the nest. I keep waiting for my empty nest but it might just be that I am the one who takes flight! Hmm, Paris? Rio? Gotta go find me a travel agent!
“But the other night I was so right about something that I had to give him the dagger eyes while speaking to the Diva in a soothing tone through a clenched jaw. It wasn’t pretty.”

May not have been pretty, but your telling of it was beautiful! Thanks for the laughs, and I most definitely hope the Diva listens to you.