Monday, May 12, 2014

Just Like Being Pregnant....

Not that I am, before anyone starts getting all worked up and "Oooh" about things.

No, it's just that I'm getting lots of advice from people about parenting - and it's neither needed nor wanted. Why do people feel OK about doling out pearls of wisdom on a subject (parenting) with which they have no more experience than me? In fact, thinking about it, some of the people in question have less experience.

Without discussing him too much (heaven forbid), the Man Child has decided to take a year off before going to college. Something I really wish I had done. He got accepted into all the colleges he applied to, has accepted one offer, and just needs a breather. Simples.

Over here however, it's really not the done thing to not go straight to college. All but one of the colleges he got into wouldn't let him defer. He would have to reapply (from scratch) next year if he wanted to go. Such a shame and a waste of time and money. (We had to pay $50-$90 per college application.)

A few American kids "travel" but these days it's an organized, extremely expensive affair where they're looked after from the moment they leave the parental nest to the minute they're picked up at the airport at the end. Not that I really want my son trekking around the world on his own (like we used to back in the day) but you might as well go on a cruise if you're seeing the world this way. But no, not keen on the back-packing idea; I wouldn't sleep for the entire duration and it'd be our luck for him to be kidnapped/sold into something/recruited etc. Just "no".

But back to the rant, - we have actually sat down and talked about it. He has our full support, and we've also told him that he has to "do something". He can't get up at noon and lie around, or play his guitar all day and stay up till 3am. He has to get a job at the very least.  Given the way some people just launch into the pros and cons of the matter though, you'd think we didn't give a hoot what he was doing.

Interfering busybody - "So, is Man-Child actually going to college?" (Nervous laugh.)
Me - "Yes, but he's taking a year off.'
IB - (Not interested in where Man-Child is going, just in doling out the pearls). "Hmmmmm, I'm not sure about that. I mean, what if he starts drifting."


IB - "So what's Man-Child up to next year". (Knowing full well what he's "up to".)
Me - "Oh he's taking a year off."
IB - (Thinking stance.) See, there are pros and cons to that.....
Me - (Laughing irritably). "As there are with everything."


IB - "Where's Man-Child going?"
Me - "Well probably X College, but he's taking a year off and he changes his mind every five minutes, so who knows."
IB - "Does he have a plan?"
Me - "Not as such, but I've told him he has to get one."
IB - "Wow (thinly veiled criticism coming up) You're good to be so laid back about it."

Seriously people. I have one child in college and doing very well, thank you. I know the pros and cons of taking a year off. I also can't for the life of me, figure out how you're supposed to force a 6'4" 18 year old to go anywhere. Yes, we could threaten him with this and that, or we could have brought him up to live the life we want him to live instead of following his passions, but we choose not to. (And yes, there are some kids we know, whose parents told them which colleges - and degrees for that matter - they would and would not finance.)

My patience is wearing quite thin on this so it'll be a real test for me not to burst out with something along the lines of -

"Seriously? Don't you think we haven't thought about all the bloody pros and cons.?"


"Wow - thanks for that. I would never have come up with that on my own."

Very, very tempting.


  1. God how infuriating.
    It's funny how over here, taking a year off is so much more the norm (or at least was, until they started charging uni fees). I didn't take one, and was very much in the minority when I started at Bristol in the 90s.
    Good luck to the Man-child!

  2. I can totally relate! We've got one in his second year of college and the first year wasn't easy.

    Just tell those who are questioning you that "Actually, he's coming to live with YOU for the year!"

  3. I have no children, and even if I did have I would not dream of giving you or anyone else any advice about how to raise their children! I mean!!! However, I understand that in the US it is so the norm for everyone to automatically go to college straight after high school that no doubt they are totally fazed by it. My answer would probably be "it's an English thing!" that would faze them even more!!! (that's not advice by the way!!). Whatever the outcome I am sure that you will work it out and I wish Man Child all the best! xx

  4. Now, if I were you...

    But I'm not. And quite frankly I would tell the IBs to stick it where the sun don't shine.
    And smile while you say it.
    V E R Y S I N C E R E L Y.

    LCM x

  5. It's easy for others to give advice when not wearing your shoes isn't it. You only live once, I hope if my children make the decision to travel I hope I will be supportive like you clearly are being.

  6. You could start telling them that the gap year is very popular in Britain, but what the heck. Why do you need to justify yourself to them?

    Just tell them you're pregnant. That'll give them something else to think/talk about.

  7. I think the "gap" year is a very foreign concept here. I know if mine I had brought it up, I would have struggled to be as accepting as you; I hope I would have pulled it off. But....I also know that criticizing someone else's parenting is beyond rude.

  8. So, you're NOT pregnant, is what you're saying? ;)

  9. I have never understood why we Americans (those who expect their children to go to and/or finish college) expect ourselves and our children to know what their expectations, life interests, and goals are at 18 years old. Granted, there are some few who do know these, but most of us need some time and experience of the world to figure it out. Some of us never do figure it out. ;-) It's all a process. And there are so many possibilities!

    My daughter was training for a graphic arts related career when she realized she could not be creative on a deadline. My own man-child has also changed careers and degrees, and he's only 26.

    They wouldn't know if they didn't give it a try, then pause and say, "Well, maybe not..."

    A gap year allows for that process to unfold and some perspective to be gained.

    Kinda wordy here. Sorry. But deeply felt.

  10. I was begging mine to take his lovely maroon passport and enjoy a gap year but he wasn't having it. More concerned about getting a girlfriend. :-(

  11. Cannot believe he can't defer, that really takes the cake and shows how travel and real experiences count for nought. I find it really irritating how kids here go on these made up really expensive trips to Europe instead of doing real backpack travel where you have to sort out everything yourself.


The more the merrier....

Blog Archive