Wednesday, October 17, 2007


More fucking child drama. Let's see if i can sum this up succinctly.

Em is all freaked out over applying to and getting in to college. I am more relaxed. I KNOW that she will get into a college and get a good education and have a good life.

So, Em really wants to go to a certain large public college on the east coast. The real reason that she wants to go there is because that's where her girlfriend goes. It's scary to go off to college by yourself, i understand that.

My bias is that i don't really want her to go that far away. If something goes wrong, it can be more than a day's travel to get to her. She won't be able to be around for the smaller holidays, like Thanksgiving or her birthday, only Christmas and summer really. I fully admit this is my bias and i may need to just get over it.

There is a slightly better large public college in this area, plus we wouldn't have to pay out-of-state tuition. She is very likely to get into both of these colleges, and a few more that may be even better suited to her interests.

She asked me yesterday is she can apply "early decision" to the east coast college. That means that is they accept her, she has to go. The advantage is that she will know by the end of the year, the disadvantage is that it leaves her no other option.

I thought about it for a long time. The Mister and i discussed it. Then i said no. I don't want her to limit her choices like that.

I am trying to separate my fears from her desires. I think i have. I want to do what is best for her. But i hate having her mad at me. Such is the fate of playing the parent role rather than the friend role. And believe it or not, she hates being mad at me. I think it bothers her more than it bothers me.

Thanks for listening.


Mrs. Chili said...

Ooof. That's a hard one.

I'm not sure that I would have said no, but I'm going to temper that by saying that MY eldest is ten and I have no such issues in my life. Yet.

Still, I am all about letting the girls figure stuff out on their own. If either girl wants to apply to a school on the other side of the country, I'll probably let her, but only after we've discussed the fact that she'll be on her own - we can't be immediately available if something comes up like we would be if she were closer. I'd also make sure she understood that making THIS choice takes OTHER choices away from her. If I were sure she understood, I'd let her make her choice.

Then I'd go to my room and cry....

Mignon said...

First, you're a nicer mom than I am. I would be totally against my kids going to a college solely because of a love interest. I also am 100% against early decision. A lot can change in a kid's life in 4-6 months, and the best thing she can do for herself now is give herself many options.

Second, I am one of four kids and we all travelled to the opposite side of the country to attend college (my older brothers went to California when we were in CT, and my little brother and I went to the east coast when we lived in WA). Personally, I'm not into it. It was expensive and exhausting getting to and from college, and I think it was a little too much growing up a little too quickly. I don't want my kids in the same town, but at least only one time zone away would be nice.

Anonymous said...

You know, schools like Harvard have yanked the early decision option, in part for reasons like this. The limitation of options, the stress it imposes before the natural course of events can and should unfold. Everything's so RIGHTNOW these days.

Still, I feel for you. There's no drama like the silent treatment and a cold shoulder from the one you'd cut your own arm off for.

Anonymous said...

It's so hard when your own interests are impacted by the decision, hard to stay objective.

As for her being mad at you, I just make a mark on the calendar, on the days, when my middle one isn't mad at me. It's just easier:)

thailandchani said...

Well, maybe I'm just weird.. but I agree with your concerns. Tell her you will pay for the local college but if she wants to go to the other one, she'll have to pay the difference on her own. She might decide the local one is just fine after all. :)


flutter said...

Oh that has to be tough, love.

Anonymous said...

God, that's a hard one, isn't it? I hope I can have your courage when it comes to tough stuff with my son. I hate for him to be mad at me, but I know there are going to be instances where I have to be the parent in spite of his anger!

I'm sure soon, or in 4 years, she'll be happy you guided her this way.

Anonymous said...

I would say absolutely not on the binding early decision. Too many things could change between now and time to go. My son has been accepted to his first choice college, large state school in a neighboring state with rolling admissions (and out-of-state tuition, but still affordable). He could aim higher but he doesn't want to. This school is ranked highly in his intended major and is only 2.5 hours away by car. Perfect, right? But I'm afraid he'll regret it if he doesn't at least apply to some other schools.


Anonymous said...

I haven't gotten as far as the child leaving for college point in E.'s life, but I think if nothing else you've got it right--sometimes you simply have to be the parent.

Liv said...

I am 1000% on your side. One does not travel to school for a love interest. And what, pray tell, is going to happen when this love passes (they all do at this age) and then lovesick, sad Em is depressed and failing?? (it's not like anything like this EVER happened to me) She needs to go somewhere for educational reasons. Em will love and be loved wherever she goes, and she will be a brilliant student whether she's at a public school or an Ivy.

Airam said...

Wow that's tough. I'm sure that she will see your point of view when she gets more than 1 acceptance and finds she's got choices.

Lynnea said...

I'm wondering if, like the last time an east coast decision had to be made, Em might secretly deep down be glad you said no. That is a lot of pressure to put on yourself at that age. Things change so quickly and having many options available is always preferred. Locking in is a bad idea. What if she and the girlfriend have a fallling out? Will she regret going to a college for mainly that reason and then be so far away from you? Better to decide to go far away for a much more substantial reason like it's the right college for her. She may not admit that's why she wants to go there, but mom's instincts are usually well-honed. Bravo. I can sense that you put your own feelings aside at least enough to make a decision that was for her. You could have told her she couldn't attend that college at all. That would have been caving to your own feelings. But simply barring her from locking up her choices is a wise decision even for the local University. Hang tough Mom, you did great.

ms chica said...

I concur, and it has nothing to do with my desire to leave the east coast.

Emerging into adulthood sucks. You feel like you should have some sort of divine insight, but sometimes you don't get it until you screw up. Luckily she has you to guide her along. I'm assuming you explained your decision to her as you did to us in the peanut gallery. If not, do. It won't make things any easier for the next few days but she will respect you in the morning.

Bob said...

there is soooo much pressure put on kids today to get into the "right" school, that their entire career and life hangs on the balance of this decision. If I can't get into this school, my life will be ruined and I'll just DIE.

just like detention going on your permanent record will completely ruin any chance you have to be president of the u.s.

(be glad you aren't japanese - kids commit suicide over these things.)

I assume you've explained the rational behind your decision to her. (too early to be locked in, cross-country difficult for travel to-from and too far for emergencies, out of state tuition). at least the way you've presented it here you've made it sound as if your decision is based on logic, not your fears. She'll have to understand that - and will, eventually.

both of our kids understood the limitation of where they could go based on our finances - (or lack thereof) - we couldn't afford out-of-state tuition (especially since they both qualified for the state's Hope scholarship - good grades = tuition, fees, and some books paid by the state). But then, neither of ours had a burning desire to go to any particular college and were willing to go to where they could get in within the bounds of what we could afford.

I think Em will get over her disappointment about not being allowed to apply for the early decision. Despite her wearing her emotions on her sleeve she seems, on balance, to be a level headed girl.

not that it makes this tempest in a teacup any easier to endure. after all, you've just ruined her life, is all.

Schmoopie said...

The East coast is soooo far away. As a mom, I can't even imagine A. or Z. being that far (and I am glad I have more time!)

I met Stucco after I had made my decision to go away to school. I regretted having locked myself into that year of school. It all worked out in the end, but a lot can change.

Andrea Frazer said...

How about you just take over for me when Em goes to school? This way you won't miss Em so much and I'm pretty guaranteed to not fuck up my kids.

meno said...

mrs. chili, i didn't take the choice of going there away from her, i just said no to it being her only choice.

mignon, the realization that she REALLY just wants to go there because of the love interest has come upon me slowly. Now that i am on to her, she will not be able to make that foolish choice on her own. I like the way you think. You add good perspective to my thinking.

jennifer, you have nailed it. But i think she will get over it, because she does love her mommy.

deb, most days we get along well. That's what makes these days all the more shocking.

chani, if you are weird, than so am i.

flutter, don't have kids. Okay just kidding, but dammit it suck sometimes. They insist on having their own ideas!

irish goddess, much of the times we are friends, but in this case, i just can't let her go off and make what i think is a big mistake.

liz, yes, the limiting of the choices is hard to watch. So i'll not allow it.

irrelephant, thank you for the words of support. It's surprising how much it means to me. :)

liv, thank you sweetie. Not that i ever made bad decisions based on a love interest either. Ha!

airam, i think you are right, and i want her to have those choices.

maggie, very astute observation. You may be right. I want her to go to a boffo college, one that is right for her, and not right for her friends. Thanks for the kind words.

ms. chica, she will screw up, but not in such a way that she is alone, 2000 miles from home. She does respect me, that is why she fights so hard.

bob, the oressure sucks, i agree. Love the "permanent record" threat. I have explained it to her. Her heart fights with me, but somewhere, her head is listening. I am a premiere life-ruiner. :)

schmoopie, a LOT can change. Sometines i am just weary of the battle, you know?

mamap, not a chance woman, not a chance in hell.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

Well, that is it. This post has convinced me. My kids are never leaving and can just live in the basement. I better get working on the remodel now, eh?

Scott from Oregon said...

HAve her pay for her own college. Problem solved.

Lynn said...

When you figure it all out, let me know. Then I will know what to do when this comes up at our house.

SUEB0B said...

Wait til she gets to college and finds out she will make all kinds of new friends instead of just relying on that one friend from home...won't she be surprised THEN?

Ah, drama.

Sienna said...

Good on you Meno, wise wise and totally get the keeping options/choices open..that's okay you doing parent hang in there mate, great call and amazing ability to see around corners for her.

Bless her heart, but you so make sense on this....choices and options rule.

Somedays can be a little rough for everyone, eh.


...and what Suebob said too.

Anonymous said...

I was her - SO MUCH her - when I was a senior. I wasn't going to that school to be with a love interest, but rather a place within my comfort zone. Yes it was a good school, but the drawbacks were so many more than the positives. And the positives (at least those I had in mind at the time) faded away and were meaningless after a year or so, but there I was, stuck. There were so many other better choices I should have considered.

With that said - how far away is the slightly better in-state school? I believe I would have regretted MORE if I had "stayed home" during college. To get the true experience, I think it should be at least a couple of hours drive from mom and dad!

Mona Buonanotte said...

Ditto Maggie. She may be wanting you to say No. And then there's tears and silence for a little while, and then she'll come up to you and hug you and everything will be fine.

Anonymous said...

Geez-o-pete! I'm not lookin forward to havin teenagers! It seems like such a chore sometimes!

You seemed fair to me, and frankly, if she breaks up with her girl, she'll be thankful she's not stuck with having to go to that school.

Not that kids ever break up or anything.

Marshamlow said...

I really don't think kids should be allowed to pick their own college. Maybe we should home school our girls until they are ready to make the right choices.

Princess in Galoshes said...

Marsha, you're kidding, right? Of course kids should be able to pick their own college. Welcome to being an adult. Isn't that what college is all about- transitioning to adulthood?

Sometimes adults make bad decisions. Sometimes adults have to live with the consequences of those decisions. But at a big school, there will be lots of options, lots of career paths, lots of new friends. Even if your original reasons for going there fade.

And there is always a chance to transfer. Picking my own college was one of the best experiences of my life. I was half way across the country, not all the way, but it was still a long haul. And it was a wonderful experience.

TTQ said...

Her toughest choice is not being able to go to her "dream" college? She should be lucky she has the grades, parents who are willing and able to afford to send their child to college and not having to find a job that she has to start right after HS to support herself. Or that her only college chance is Community College. Take it from a Temper Tantrum Queen, all those options can come flying back in your face when you pitch a fit and don't get what you want.
It's called the you should be so lucky defense.

Biscotto said...

Tell her that if she wants to spend the extra time and trouble that it will take for her to be at the East Coast school, she has to justify the decision.

If she can present, in written form, CAREFULLY thought out arguments for the East Coast College, then you'll consider paying for it. (She can always go on her own dime, of course.) Don't pressure her to do this, because you don't actually want her to do this. But later, when she accuses you of ruining her life because you wouldn't let her go to the East Coast College, your ass is covered. You say, but you never wrote the essay.

If the essay is shit, then you can say, but the arguments were weak.

And if she writes the essay, it means she has a strong drive to do this. If she writes a good essay that you can't make counterarguments against, then she's earned the right to make the decision. (God, better yet, make her write a paper on both positions.)

Then, if she can put in writing the reasons that she should apply Early Decision and you agree with the substance of her arguments, then let her make that choice.

Because you can't keep her from making her own mistakes. You can only teach her to make carefully considered decisions.

Now go order Road Trip from Netflix. Very funny story about going off to college while in a committed relationship. Might be a good chance to talk to her about some of these things.

Don't tell Em that I'm absolutely in love with the blonde who strips down to her panties. That can be our secret.

Right-O. This excellent parenting advice comes to you from a woman who pushed a child out of the house this morning and then threw his shoes and socks out behind him. As always, take with grain'o'salt.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mignon (FUCK!) and the others on the "decision-having-anything-to-do-with-love-interest" aspect. I'm cool with early decision (I was one going to Vanderbilt) and never regretted that, but, again, I'm sure it was because the decision was based on the school, not who I was going to be having sex with while there. I made PLENTY of other life-altering decisions based on that sole criteria! Would you be cool with an early decision by EM if it was the closer school?

No argument that this is a momentous decision, and should be made with great care and an eye toward all that it can affect in the future. But at some point it won't hurt to remember that all these choices we make as we go through life, big, little, carefully and mindlessly, quickly fuse into an undifferentiated mass of past decisions that can no longer be separated out into each one's ultimate effect on your life. Destiny is just another word for hindsight. Em could follow her friend to EastCoast U and end up winning the Nobel Prize, or go to college closer to home and give you three crack babies to raise over the next few years (please don't take offense at that attempt to make a point-I would never assume such about her).

Anyway, who I am to talk. Mine are just 13 and 11. It's just not my turn to agonize yet, at least about this one.

Anonymous said...

Meno, you are a damn fine mama. Why? Because You think through until you discover what Em's best interests are, and you use that as your guide, even when it is tough.

I agree that this 'early decision' stuff is crap (a way for colleges to ensure their money sources) and that she should keep as many options open as possible.

Even if I didn't agree, I still think you are doing the right thing.

peevish said...

Ditto what Nancy Dancehall said.

meno said...

cagey, I think that's the best option. :)

scott, oh scott, i know we did, but i would like to share what o have with her and make it easier on her than it was on me. But that doesn't give her a blank check either.

lynn, yes, learn from me. I should have done more research earlier, so that i had more well formed opinions to begin with.

suebob, yes, drama is big around here. And she will be surprised, i was.

pam, thank you. I know i am doing the right thing for her, but i hate having her angry. The good news is that she seems to be over it, already.

emily, the better in state school is close, about an hour away, but i want her to live on campus, not at home. She can always transfer to another college if one doesn't work.

mona, maggie's so smart. I think she may be right.

franki, sell them now, while you can still get some money for them.

marsha, i want her to pick her own college, with some input from us. I am so unsuited to homeschooling, you have no idea.

princess, a good reminder that it's not the end of the world, that there are other choices and divergent paths.

ttq, i totally hear what you are saying. And i will use it. She can't just da anything just because we can pay for it.

biscotto, i love what you say, and i will use it. You have helped me to clarify my thoughts, something i should have done in the first place, but didn't. Road Trip. I'm on it!

mamalujo, you have a problem with mignon? "undifferentiated mass of past decisions that can no longer be separated out into each one's ultimate effect on your life." Shit, that's brilliant, and i will keep it in mind.

nancy, god knows i try. So thank you. I am all about the options.

peevish, nancy is so smart. And yes, i am still pondering the meme you assigned to me.

Susanne said...

Hard decision to make. For all of you. I hope everything will go well.

Mermaid Melanie said...

thats tough. I went only a few hours away from home. It was nice, but sometimes I wish I had gone a little farther, and had to be on my own more. Helps you understand the "living in the outside world" a bit quicker.

You're the mom, and you know what is best for your baby. Good Luck!

amusing said...

I applied early decision (see, it was early "decision" then and it didn't mean you had to go there, just that if you knew that was where you wanted to go, you had the option of applying and finding out sooner rather than later...). I was accepted, and went. Maybe they've changed the rules now.

And I was always far away -- New England while they were down South and junior in Scotland while they were in the US of A -- and it was fine. I went home at Christmas and that was dandy.

Love Biscott's concept.

Agree love is not the reason to pick a school.

See that you are already well aware that if the wrong decision is made first, it can always be changed and a transfer initiated.

Good luck. Want I should send the alcohol ahead of me?

crazymumma said...

Selfishly I am taking notes for my future.

I truly believe that the chips will fall as they should and the right decision will be made.

Mother of Invention said...

I have no emotional experience being a mom, but from the outside, I think you may have to let her go, and be and do what she wants on this one.