Tough Life Lessons

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            We recently had Liz (our first daughter) and Brad’s (hubby) family over for an informal dinner. We always enjoy spending time with them and our grandchildren. Of their five children, we are proud to say, their two eldest are currently in college.

            When our three daughters were young, we programed them to go. Did you know you can program your children (to some extent)? When Lisa won a state wide art contest in first grade, she won $100, among other prizes. A reporter asked what she would do with the money. She immediately answered, ‘probably save it for college’. Liz was in high school when she came home one day, somewhat disillusioned, to tell us some of her friends weren’t going to college. Somehow, she had the impression that everyone had to go. I wonder where she got that idea.

            Getting back to our dinner and grandchildren, I often ask about school progress. Our grandson is a senior and doing well in college. He is looking forward to, and questioning the next step, and the great unknowns of life. Our granddaughter is a freshman, and finding out what many find out. College is hard. It’s not high school 2.0. I know, in time, she will adjust. She is motivated, just as I was.

            Her experience brought me back to my school days. For me, as for many of my peers, I was ill-equipped for the riggers of the scholastic requirements. Surely, they had to be kidding, a minimum of two hours study per hour of class. That would make it…like a full-time job…and then some! Plus, nobody had prepared me for all of the distractions. There were sports, parties, and worst (or best) of all, girls. In addition, you took care of yourself. Mom had given me the basics on doing laundry, but I had barely paid attention. My freshman year was also, my pink underwear year. I thought I had figured out a better way. In short, it took me a while to adapt to college life.

I may have told this one before, but it’s a good one, especially for my grandkids. The first semester of my sophomore year, one of my best friends, Larry Rose and I had Organic Chemistry together. Chemistry was my major, and Larry was, like his father, going to be a doctor (no pressure there). After pulling the college classic “all-nighter”, Larry and I entered the test the next evening somewhat confident. We exited united a couple of hours later, with the same question. What was that??? Apparently, our efforts to circumvent the recommended daily school grind had fallen short. It was as if we had thoroughly learned the alphabet, and then been asked to form words. The problem was, our words came out like kat and daug.

To make a long story short, after that brief walk across campus, and the meaningful discussion about joining the Marines, we both survived. The next day, we both dropped the class. I retook it during the summer. I aced it. It’s amazing how much easier it can be when you are truly focused. It also helps when you aren’t concurrently taking advanced Physics and Calculus. I kept my major; and several years later was one of fourteen Chemistry majors to graduate. OK, chemistry was still tough.

I know, everyone looks excited. This was after dinner and playing in the park. It’s always good to have family visit.

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