From Car Wash to College
It was sunny and warm and a perfect day to spend an afternoon with the girls. On the way home from church, I decided a few more moments alone with them was just what I needed.
“You girls want to go to the car wash with me?”
“Yes!” they sang in unison.
“Mommy,” the Daredevil said, “let’s listen to some music.”
“Ok,” I said, turning on some upbeat gospel as a backdrop to my thoughts and their chatter. I thought about all the work I still had to do when I got home, the dinner that I needed to cook, the emails I needed to send, and I sank heavily into my seat.
It’s nice, I thought, having them in the car with me. It’s like I spend my time driving all over the city by myself these days. This job is rewarding, but I do miss them.
At that, I tuned in more intently to their conversation, consciously deciding to truly be in the moment with them.
“But after 12th grade, which is the last year of high school, you need to go to college.” The Princess was in full teaching mode.
“I’m not going to go away for college,” the Daredevil insisted.
“What do you mean? You have to go to college. Then you get to find a husband and get married and have some kids. But you have to get a job first. You get the job between going to college and getting the husband.”
“I am going to college. I’m just going to stay here in Chicago.”
“But going away to college is great! You get to brush your teeth there!” The Princess, trying to convince her sister, spoke with the emphatic sentiment of a guidance counselor in an 80’s after-school special.
“I know, but I’m not going away. I’m staying here.”
“Did you know that you get to sleep at college? Did you know that? You get to sleep there and brush your teeth there!”
“I know, but I’m not going away. Besides, who’s going to watch Mommy if you go away and I go away?”
“Baby,” I couldn’t help but jump in, “you don’t have to worry about Mommy. I’ll be fine. You should go to college where you want to go to college.”
“Yeah,” the Princess chimed in, “plus, Mommy has Bubba to take care of her.”
“Really,” I cut in again, “I don’t need you all concerned about my well-being. I can take care of myself just fine. College is for you.”
Ignoring me, the Daredevil retorted, “He’s just a baby! He can’t take care of Mommy by himself!
“First of all,” I said, almost pleading now, “he won’t still be a baby when you get ready to go to college. Second of all, I’ll be fine. I’ve been taking care of myself for a long time now.”
“Yeah, Mommy has Daddy to take care of her,” the Princess added.
Really? Do my children think I am incapable of self-care?
“Didn’t Mommy and Daddy fall in love in college?” asked the Daredevil.
“Yes, they did. And then they got married,” answered the Princess. “And that’s what you need to do: go away to college and find your husband.”
“No, no, no!” I couldn’t help myself. “You are NOT going to college to find a husband. You are going to college to get an education to get the job you want! You go to college to be able to take care of yourself.”
“Yeah, Princess. I’m not going to college to find a husband. I’m going for my job. And Mommy? I already know what I want to be: a Lady Bird Scout so that I can sell cookies and win a new bike. Besides, the husband I find after college, Princess, is going to be handsome. I mean, really handsome. And there’s nothing wrong with me brushing my teeth at Mommy and Daddy’s house! Right, Mommy?”