I had a cousin who went to college for a year or so, and decided that it just wasn't for him. He moved back home, got a job at a record store and grew his hair out long. He struggled to find his way.
Then one weekend he went to his family's country house and hung himself in the barn. It was a devastating and tragic loss of a talented, smart and sensitive young man who never quite found his place in this world.
Teddy's story - and similar stories of so many like him - is why I admire the work of people like Lady Gaga and The Bloggess. People who speak for the misfits. Who spread the message that we're all okay. There are so many young people struggling to find their place in this world who need to hear that message.
Like my son.
My son had a wonderful first semester of college. Thanks in part - I'm sure! - to all the advantages we gave him. Like the off-campus quad apartment so he could experience the independence of college life even though he was going to school in town. Like the college fund we'd saved so that he wouldn't have pesky student loans hanging over his head his whole life. We paid his rent, his car note, insurance, gas, his phone, fraternity fees, tuition, books, everything. And he thrived.
Or so we thought. The second semester, Elijah did what oh, so many college freshmen do -- he took the independence thing a bit far. Skipped a lot of classes. Failed a few of them. It happens. I mean who here didn't fail at least one semester of college? *whistles innocently*
He came back to the house. We talked about what's next. Get a job. Work this summer. Repeat the failed classes this fall and fix his GPA. We didn't think we expected much. Typical parental stuff, right?
But he had other ideas. He's taken the bold step of cutting himself off. He doesn't want anything from us anymore. Not if it comes with demands like You have to get a job or You have to go to school. He's 18 and he wants to call the shots. Which apparently means living in a run-down house near the university with a group of his friends and playing Xbox all day.
It's definitely not what we want for him. But if he's out of our house and off of our dime, we don't really get a vote.
And ultimately, I'm okay with that. Because we all have to find our way. Some of us stumble onto it naturally. Others wander around many different roads before we finally find one that suits us. The most important thing is that our son knows we love him and he can always come home again should he so choose.
You try to do right by your kids and you send 'em out in the world and you just hope they do okay. I mean, you secretly hope they flourish and succeed and take the world by storm. But mostly you just hope they do okay. That they figure out a way to survive in this crazy world. As parents, you have to be okay with whatever path they find that suits them, even if it's not really the one you'd planned for them. Because what did Malynn say was the only thing she ever wanted for any of her kids?
For them to be HAPPY.