Bill Marcil Jr., Published November 27 2013
From the publisher: Savor the magical moments
Her room is the same way she left it. Exactly the same. I have only ventured into the space a few times, once immediately after I had taken her to college. Funny, it is still hard to see that space empty.
When I go by the room now, I think I hear her singing or talking on the phone. Not sure if that feeling ever will leave me. But this morning it is real. She is home.
In September, I was going to write something about sending my oldest daughter off to college. I sat down many times at the computer. As I would start to type, the tears would flow like a shower. I would always stop, afraid that I could be electrocuted by my own tears. Headline: “Publisher killed by his own tears.” Subhead: “What a baby – she didn’t die, she just went to college.”
Sending our children to college. What a phenomenon in American culture. My wife, Chris, originally from Brazil, always thought it was tragic that we send our 18-year-olds off to live with someone we don’t know, only to learn life lessons from two roommates from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. For years, I would laugh at my wife and tell her that is why America is way better than Brazil. Americans are more mature and not as attached to our parents, so we are ready to meet the real world head on and work hard. She would tell me that in her big Latin family, what we call sending our kids to college to learn independence they would call abandonment in a place that looks like a prison. Hmmm.
Guess what? Don’t tell her ... my wife is right! America, what are we doing? Something is terribly wrong. Did you see those dorm rooms? Cinder block walls, beige paint, no pets. Sharing bathrooms with groups of people. Cafeteria food that is on par with frozen TV dinners. Can you see the similarities? OK, now imagine all the students in orange jumpsuits. Exactly! Prison.
OMG! America, the Latins have it right. We must go immediately, gather all of our children from institutes of learning all over this world and have them move back home.
My daughter is in Boston for school. A wonderful city. Great college town. My friends would ask me, “How is Izzy? She adjusting?” Excuse me? My daughter? What about me? Doesn’t anyone care if I am adjusting? No, I am not. I want her back. Who cares about education? Bill Gates and Steve Jobs didn’t finish school. Would it be wrong if I ran upstairs right now, burst into her room and tried to talk her out of going back to school?
OK, I won’t. I do see it as a healthy way to grow and mature. I do miss her, as I am sure most of you miss your kids. But we can tough it out. When she first went to school, I would call her every day. After about a week, she sent me a text: “Are you going to call every day?” I sent a text back, “Yes, and answer the fone next time!”
On this Thanksgiving Day, let’s all be thankful for our children who have returned home. Thankful that they have an opportunity to be away from home, experience new people and learn new things and bring those experiences with them to the table today as we enjoy each other. And for those of you whose children could not make it home. I feel your pain. Maybe send them a text: “Thnksgiv w/out u stnks!”
Some colleges might look like prisons, but I feel that offering our kids the freedom to experience life on their own can teach us many beautiful lessons – including not taking each other for granted and to appreciate the few magical moments when we can be together.
Marcil is publisher of The Forum and executive vice president/chief operating officer of Forum Communications.