Ruby ate her cereal. I ate my eggs, avocado and half of an everything bagel. With butter. Take that.
“Mom, can I skip college and do it later?”
Ruby looked up at me over her spoon.
“What will you do instead?” I asked. It’s early days for these conversations. She’s just 10 years old. But we talk about college with Zac pretty regularly, as it’s on his horizon now.
“Move into a house,” she told me.
“With what money?” I asked. Better to get the facts out now rather than later. Daddy Warbucks won’t step in, my dear.
“You mean, I need to work at a job to make money?” Ruby sounded incredulous. I guess putting the two together had never occurred to her for her own life.
“Yes. That’s why most people work. You will need to do the same.” Mean Mommy!
“Well…what is college like?”
I told her about college. She could spread her wings as an adult and find great adventures with new people in new places. If she went away to school, which I highly recommend, she would need to go to class, pay for room and board, and tuition as well as books. Or she could live at home while going to class, then come home and sleep in her own bed.
“I want to do that last one,” she said quickly, a smile lighting up her face.
“Once you figure out what you want to be when you grow up, it’ll be easier to decide where to go to school. You can get scholarships, too, if you get good grades. That means you’ll pay less for college.” Hey, plant that seed.
I told her I met my best friend in college. She now lives in Minnesota, but she’s been there for me when I cried and to encourage me. It’s my privilege to do the same for her. I met Jonathon at college.
“If I hadn’t gone to Bethany, I never would have met your dad,” I said.
Ruby’s eyes got wide.
“I never would have been born!” she said.
Daylight’s beginning to glimmer, I thought. I smiled to myself.
“We wouldn’t have Rex or Chloe, either,” she added.
Okay. Probably not, but less important.
“Or Zac,” I reminded her. Priorities land in strange places when you’re a kid, I reckon. Felines can edge out brothers.
She moved on to other things, like listening to music and doing her daily chore. As I rinsed my dishes, I mulled over the conversation. Life has a funny way of forcing us to make choices. We all grow up, little by little, whether we want to or not. Peter Pan is a fairy tale. Responsibility comes calling, and moves in. The best we can do is pray and talk to our kids, and hope they learn from our successes as well as failures.
My son, keep your father’s command
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. – Proverbs 6:20