Sunday, September 21, 2008

A cautionary tale

Published September 21, 2008
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

Today, I’d like to address the girls of America. Parents and grandparents, if you have a girl in your home between the ages of 8 and 18, please bring her to the newspaper. You can (and should) read this column too, but it is absolutely imperative that your daughters and granddaughters take the time to learn what I have to teach them. Why are you still reading? Go! Go! Get those girls!

Hi girls. How’s it going? Thanks for setting down your cell phones and iPods for a few minutes to hear what I have to say. I think it’s really important, and despite my status as old and out of touch, I think you’ll agree by the end of this column that my advice is “tight” and “sick.” Frankly, it’s, if you know what I mean.

Girls, there are probably many people in your life who are encouraging you to continue with your education when you graduate from high school. These are smart people. They know you and love you and have your best interests at heart. Listen to these people. Go to college! Stay in college! Don’t quit! Get your degree!

You’re probably wondering why I’ve roused you from your myspace bulletins and music downloads just to reiterate what you’ve already heard many times. Well, girls, I am a statistic. I jumped into college right out of high school, full of dreams of my future as a music therapist. One semester later, I moved to Utah, started a family, and my education took a 12-year back seat to the demands of raising children.

Now, all those years later, I’ve been back in school for over a year and I’m again pursuing a degree. What’s the big deal with that, you ask? It’s the difference between a brain fresh from the demands of high school and a brain slowly eaten away by years of unfortunate exposure to the “Goofy Goober” song on Spongebob. It’s the difference between having all the time in the world and having to pencil in time to have a mini-breakdown between parenting, homework, housework, work work, and your daily “good cry.”

Let me put it this way: It’s the difference between having a cute study partner who helps you understand altruistic behavior in primates and having a three year old study partner who greatly resembles a primate with the screeching and the jumping and the hopping in your lap (all while you’re trying to take your first online test in Geography).

At 18, I never would have looked down at my notebook to see, “Why do we reconstruct phylogenies? Phylogeny is the Mater for identification and classification of the Lightning McQueen (called ka-chow).” While you may end up with an annoying roommate who watches Disney movies while you’re trying to study, chances are you won’t have to pay anyone to watch that person if you need to get away. And that person probably won’t interrupt your note-taking with, “Moooom! The DVD’s not working. Moooom! I want lunch! Mooooooooom! Let’s go to the park!”

I’m not making any judgments about when you get married or when you have children or whether or not either coincides with your schooling. I’m just saying I want you to go…when you’re young…and finish…while you’re young. Don’t be like me. Don’t put it off until you find yourself frantically reading your Ethics paper while combing your daughter’s hair, stirring dinner, and tracking down a missing turtle. It’s not the way college is supposed to be.

I know I’m taking that age old stance of “Do as I say, not as I did.” Sometimes, you have to learn from the mistakes of others. I’m like the lung cancer sufferer who tells kids not to smoke…or the quadriplegic who warns kids to wear their seatbelts. I’m a cautionary tale, ladies. I AM AN AFTER SCHOOL SPECIAL! Do you want to end up an after school special? I didn’t think so.

Thank you for your time. I’m going to get back to studying how the systematics of the Simba differ from the taxonomy of the Ariel.