“So, my young Jedi…. you’re going to be an X!”
Carlisle parents can be justly proud of the work and money we devote to our children. Each fall the Forum quite appropriately publishes at least one column by a loving parent at the point of tears about the long happy years coming to an end with that pack-up and drive to college.
Fall is also the season when some of our children, now much older, start to enroll in graduate school. In case you have not reached this milestone, here is how much different your behaviors and emotions can be:
First, money. Although getting a graduate degree from a professional school does not take as long as college, each year costs more, so the amount at play is still roughly the size that back then caused your eyes to pop out of their sockets in shock, hanging onto the main body only by a shivering, jittery optic nerve turned incandescent by the digits trailing the dollar sign.
The digits don’t die. Now, however, those don’t have to be your eyes! Yes, you are allowed to suggest grandly “You’ll be able to pay off the loans you’re taking out.” This should be a sobering moment for the young person as they consider starting their working life with a mortgage-sized debt and no house to show for it. So: for college, you may or may not have explained how much currency was in flames, and the teenager may or may not have paid attention. Now, both of you really should.
Second, getting there. We all recall packing the car, maybe two of them, and hauling enough treasure to the dorm to fund villages for months. You also recall carrying loads, armful by armful, up up up to Ellsworth North Room 504, where you paused to sip oxygen from the machine helpfully placed at the top of the stairwell by the Dean of Student Experiences.
Now, however, those don’t have to be your vertebrae folding up like origami within you! Now you can say, “Look, I’m 600 years old, you have a bank account with something in it from your years getting the work experience needed for grad school—either get your friends to move the 300-pound Trojan horse credenza out of your walk-up, hire movers, sell it, or move out at night on tiptoe leaving it there. Those are all fine choices.”
Third, visitations. In college visits were actually quite important as children still feel bound by strong, not-yet-cut cords to their previous life. Sweetly, the leprotic scrunge of surly teenage indifference typically molts off during college, and you become friends once more. Now, visiting may be less a flurry of feelings. That is, if you take them out to a nice dinner, they’re glad to see you but just about as much as any good old friend.
Finally, graduation. It is quite possible that your child feels more accomplished and prouder about grad school than college. So if they sound offhand about your attending, listen very carefully and not just with your ears: this one could be Their Very Big Moment. Be there. And when you write your Forum column, you’re still allowed to cry.