Casting my mind back over my Husband’s latest comments on “consumption testing”, “project deliverable spreadsheets” and “Go Live! dates”, I thought I should simplify.
“At Daddy’s work he types all day.”
Desperate to salvage the young man’s idea of labour, I asked, “What do you want to be when you grown up, Dude?”
He stopped. Scrunched up his eyes and then said, enunciating every syllable, “Polar Bear.”
“Polar Bear? How do you do that?”
“Weeelll…I’m going to borrow Dad’s tools and build, build, build, and then I’ll go inside it and be a Polar Bear. See? I’m done.”
I thought it was an another example of Why Children Should Not Have the Vote, but my Man was way more impressed.
“Military applications. Metal working skills. Carpentry skills. Tool and die making. Animatronics. He could rent himself out as a team mascot, or to parties sponsored by beer companies. Sure the hell beats the pants off the job prospects of my Poli Sci major.”
I am constantly running into people — in person and online — who in 2001 were dutifully stuffing RESP (education savings accounts) with everything they could find under the sofa cushions, and yet today are trying to get their kids to seriously consider other options. My moment of uttering the words I never thought I’d say came two Saturdays ago, when I told my uber-smart daughter, no less, that she didn’t have to go to University. Even she was shocked.
“If you do go, get some kind of practical degree like Nursing, or Engineering. Just stay away from Law and Education. And for God’s sake, if you enter Gender Studies we’re kidnapping you and hiring a deprogrammer!!”
When I met my fellow first-time Mommies in the park 11 years ago, all of would have included “got into University” as a one of our parenting benchmarks. But now it seems criminal to insist that your kids take out thousands in debt — when they don’t even have a job yet — just to satisfy some vague notion of success you had 18 years prior. Student loan debt is like the bad of an arranged marriage, without the good of a marriage. It’s going to take you years to get out of it, determine where you live, work and travel, and never, ever, make you breakfast in bed or be your date to your cousin’s wedding.
Plus, when’s the last time you read “History Degree Essential” in a help wanted ad? I’ve also increasingly run into lawyers and even doctors my age, living in houses smaller than the starter house we bought 14 years ago on our office worker salaries. Then there are the Ph.D. holders I know of who can only land part-time teaching gigs at community colleges. (Oh, did I mention their degrees were in Physics?) All the while the stay-at-home wives of tradesmen drop their kids of at Tae Kwon Do in an Escalade.
Yet, I still feel like a dirty heretic for even admitting this all. Even this post took me over a day to write. Why, in the era of pushing condoms on 16 year olds “because we shouldn’t judge their choices,” is declining to attend a degree granting institution seen as in some way shameful? Shouldn’t purchasing something, which is what tuition is, be judged on its economic merits? Am I the one in need of a deprogrammer?
University used to be an achievement worth the cost, but increasingly it’s becoming an expensive, four year social club pursued out of tradition and convention. Of course, we will support our girls in whatever they decide. But, it’s is nice to have a boy who’s since decided to devote his workaday life to a career as Batman. All he needs is a Class 5 Driver’s Licence for the Batmobile and some safety gloves for that huge spot light. No degree required.