After receiving this assignment, I went through my purse, my desk and junk drawer. I couldn’t find anything to interesting to write about. When suddenly the “To Do List” my oldest daughter left lying on my desk caught my eye. I’m currently having an ongoing, well let’s see, what should I call it? Disagreement; is probably the best way to describe it, with my 18-year-old daughter. A “To Do List”, she left on my desk, not for herself, but for me! It hit me like a bucket of cold water in the face. What kind of insanity is this? When did I become her secretary? She walks around declaring her independence. I know this is a stage that every teen goes through, but I really don’t remember the part of stage where I become her secretary. Anyone else get “To Do Lists” from their teenage children? Maybe it’s just me.
I’m calling this piece “The Wonder Years” because I’m wondering exactly where I went wrong. I grew up in a lower middle class home. My father worked in an oil refinery and my mother stayed at home. We struggled to make ends meet. You better make sure you shut the windows and turned the lights out at my house. There was no college fund for me. If I wanted to have a fancy wedding, I would have to pay for it. Growing up I knew I would have to work hard to get what I wanted out of life.
My family has been fortunate. Our children grew up in a somewhat affluent atmosphere, and yes, I’ll say it, we spoiled them. We also encouraged and stressed that they could be whatever they wanted. We wanted to raise our children differently than then how we had been raised. Although, I still do find myself yelling about shutting windows and turning off lights. Out of love, we told our children they were special. Everyone gets a ribbon, just for participating, trophies for all the children on the team whether they won or lost. By raising our children this way, I believe we set our children’s expectations too high and ultimately, set them up to be unhappy.
This high self-esteem that we were trying to foster in our children has actually back fired. When your child is not accepted at a fancy “name brand” college and has to shockingly, settle, for a local or dare I say it, community college. They get a nice, big, bitter taste of reality. The world, it seems, doesn’t care how special they are. You don’t have to go to a big name school in order to get a good job. Try and tell that to a child who you’ve been telling how wonderful they are all their life. I finally told my daughter, after almost 4 months of listening to her complaining about having to go to a local college,
“Get over it. Move forward from here. This is the real world.” Welcome! It’s tough out there. Wear a helmet.