Globe Syndicate

 

for release Friday May 9, 2003

 

Another Way

 

by Melodie Davis

 

 Upon A Daughter's Graduation From College

 

            It's funny. I didn't feel that teary when we bid you goodbye that first day of college such a short time ago. I knew I would miss you, sure, but as I wrote then, how could I be sad? This was the college of your dreams. I knew you had many fun, adventurous, exhilarating and educational (I hoped) times ahead. I knew that we would keep in touch by e-mail-and you soon set us up with instant messaging so that you frequently interrupted my nightly sessions on the computer with instant messages like "Hey Mom" or "R U there?" It was almost like you were just in another room.

 

            But I fear the flood of tears that I will shed upon your graduation. Why would I cry now, not then? What do I feel now? Well of course, now I cry not out of sadness, but out of joy, pride, and a little fear and trepidation for what lies ahead.

 

            Let's take the joy and pride first. You kids never understood my tears of joy. You understand crying at a sad movie, but at a happy movie? I am overflowing with joy of course that you made it through. I don't even take high school graduation for granted any more, let alone college. Life itself often throws curves to students. Any college is hard. Your college is especially competitive even though some of the courses you chose were on the lightweight side. (Come on-"Tonal Theory For People Who Don't Know How to Read Music" when you've read music since sixth grade?) Other classes like studying Women in Chinese Literature and discovering parallels to great English novels that your professors hadn't even thought of were more challenging. I was pleased you tackled "Warfare and Ethics" with one of the toughest profs in the school. It was said he didn't believe in grade creep-no easy A's. I was pleased in the literature course when your teacher challenged the Protestant kids to repeat the Apostles' Creed from memory, because so much literature had religious allusions to such things. He asked if anyone knew it and at first no admitted it but then you decided to brave it. Finally another guy joined in with you and together you got through it. Who would have thought you'd be repeating that old creed at a state school in the 21st century? I was also proud of the way your world expanded through your stint in Belgium, and becoming a good friend with your Muslim roommate from Cyprus and learning all about the little-understood conflict that splits the idyllic island of Cyprus in two parts-an island you were fortunate enough to experience first hand by visiting in her home. And teaching others about life and geography in North America (that you can't just hop over to Chicago if you are in Washington, D.C., for example, like some thought), and teaching Jose from Spain what Sloppy Joes are. "So this is a Joe. A Sloppy Joe. A Sloppy Joe?" you said Jose asked while downing his sandwich at one of your potlucks in Belgium. Such are some of the highlights that made up your college education. To graduate from the College of William & Mary with mostly A's and B's ain't too shabby, especially when your high school guidance counselor had gravely counseled that you better have a back up college in mind just in case you didn't get in to W&M.

 

            But some of the real tests came not in the lecture halls but in life learning like applying for a job on campus and having to get your birth certificate faxed to a nearby store, turning in paper work on time for the room lottery each spring, and sucking up your loneliness, as you said, by venturing to someone else's room to make friends when you were a freshman. Or finding out that getting a police background check routinely took six weeks, and you had to have it before you could submit an application for your student visa for Belgium, when you only had about 4 weeks until departure. I yelled at you for letting things slide too long, but then we went in person to the consulate in D.C. and you got your visa with about a week to spare. 

 

    Now you face the so-called "real world." Will you be able to get a job? One that you like? One that supports you in a city that seems so outlandishly expensive to us country folks? Will you be able to withstand the temptations of independence and stay true to the values you were raised with? I guess that is why the tears come now: the future is more unknown out of college than in the safe confines of structured education. I'm sure there is a whole lot more learning ahead but I'm just as sure you are up to the task.

 

            Over the years my columns and books have chronicled your growing up years, and while this may seem too sentimental or even maudlin (oh the dreaded word my writing professors would cast on my work if it got too soppy), it seemed fitting to include college graduation as a theme knowing that many other parents and grandparents will identify with this mixture of joy, pride, fear and trembling. Congratulations to all graduates this spring!

 

Write to me at:  Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail: Melodie@mennomedia.org.

 

You can also visit Another Way on the Web at www.thirdway.com.

 

Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.

 

NOTES TO EDITORS: text = 896 words; end material = 105 words

 

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