Long before Torri even stepped her freshman foot across the threshold of a high school classroom, I told her how important her GPA would be. Not only that, but also the extra-curriculars, clubs, organizations and volunteer positions that would fill in the gaps of her scholarship applications. She listened intently to everything I said, nodding in agreement all the while, and then she proceeded to go about the business of high school. Her grades slipped when social activities ranked higher than academics on her priority list. Reminders came by way of reduced privileges but still her studies suffered. By no means did she give up, but she worked only to the extent of keeping her grades just high enough to maintain privileges.
In the end, she graduated with Honors. The copper cord she wore draped around her neck was indeed a source of pride for both of us, though we both knew that it didn’t represent her very best efforts.
In the absence of significant scholarship funds, she decided to attend community college for two years before transferring to a University as a junior. She is living at home for the time being, working noticeably harder at making the grade. She also continues to work part-time, successfully manage her budget, and effectively balance her social, academic and family life.
The other night, she received a series of texts from someone with whom she has a very close relationship. I’m paraphrasing when I tell you that the texts encouraged Torri to pursue a University education not two years from now, but right now. The texts sang the praises of educational loans and living the high life in a dorm or other housing situation. I am not paraphrasing when I tell you that the text said: More than anyone else I know, you earned the right to go away to college and have the time of your life.
I vehemently disagree with those messages for many, many reasons. First of all, we have carefully planned and budgeted for Torri’s education to the extent we are able so as to prevent the need for student loans. Secondly, the point of college is not to “live the high life”. Rather, the point of college is to obtain a degree that will help to open a world of doors in the future. While I do wish that Torri had been able to attend any school of her choice, sadly, she didn’t prioritize her grades enough to make that a reality. Which brings me to my last point. That is: Torri fell short of earning the traditional college experience.
It’s an ugly truth, but it’s the truth nonetheless. It’s a truth even she recognizes.
The other night, as she read through those texts, she came to the part about having earned the right to go away to school. I didn’t, though, she said. I just didn’t.
There have been many instances in her life in which I’ve been proud. That one most assuredly included.
It would be so easy for her to jump on board and declare injustice. She could stomp her feet like a child, protrude a lower lip and cry. Instead, though, she is choosing to own the fact that her performance in high school–while worthy of graduating with Honors–fell short of earning her the scholarship dollars she would have needed to attend a University right away. Whereas so many of her peers insist on instant gratification, my girl is wisely taking the long way around. And doing so graciously, I might add.
As the mother of teenagers, I can’t help but wonder sometimes if ever fruits will blossom after all these years of blood, sweat and tears. And then–in the most unexpected moments–they do.