Covid College

This morning I came home from an early morning errand to find Jonesy dressed for his work day. We separately went in to Mols’ room to welcome her morning. Today is her first official day as a college student. She, like many intentionally, and unintentionally, like Mac, find themselves full-time enrollees of Covid College. Sure we are sending checks to this state institution or that university, but our students are virtually wading into the college waters that break against the informational highways of the internet.

Molly opted for an intentional virtual schedule. This gives her peace of mind during these times of uncertainty, allows her the control of knowing exactly what her schedule will look like all semester, and the freedom to work at her job without worrying about daytime hours in class.

Knowing this was not the average First Day of College experience, Jonesy and I began a discussion of doing something small to acknowledge the day. “It is the first day of the rest of your life,” I quipped to her rolled eyes and shaking head. She neither wants or needs fanfare for these milestone moments, but I can’t help myself. I’m proud of what this day means, even if it is not packaged in the exact way anyone had planned. But her love of eating out for breakfast tipped the scale in my favor, so the three of us headed into town for her fourteenth annual first day of school celebration.

As was fitting the occasion, our traditional breakfast took a non-traditional route as we ordered via an app for curbside pick up and then found a shady spot in a parking lot to have a car picnic. Mols sees no value in eating in a restaurant just yet, so we enjoyed the background of Pink Floyd singing, “We don’t need no education…” as we ate our choices (I’m convinced Molly DJ’ing “The Wall” was a small, subtle demonstration against higher education, specifically the compulsory general education classes she has no interest in taking.)

In my Memories apps this week there have been the pictures and the stories of Noah and Macy heading off to Universities, moving into dorms. Those were such exciting and scary moments. They were good moments and I am grateful for them. But this first day of college is just as exciting.

I fear, I have been guilty of romanticizing the idea of going away to college; of having this ginormous plan in place. I think it comes from a spirit of adventure, but to be fair it also comes from a place of wanting to have a great story to tell. Pridefulness, unfortunately, is an albatross many a mother wears

Molly shared with me during her Senior year how much she hated that the only thing anyone ever wanted to ask her about was her college plans, She never planned to leave for a four year university right after graduation. She has always wanted to complete her Gen Ed at the local college. Molly loves to learn what she loves to learn and is pleasantly indifferent to everything else. Her curiosity is vibrant but prioritized. However, there was an imagined stigma, if not realized one, of saying, “I’m staying here and taking my gen ed classes at the college.” It’s not romantic, but instead delectably practical. It is wise. It is responsible. But just like house slippers will never grace the cover of Vogue, telling inquiring minds that you have decided to stay at home and go to Community College is not the juicy story you think people want to hear.

Recently Jonesy asked as we sat at an evening meal, “How do you define success?” Answers ranged from monetary gain to educational accolades; from career aspiration to capital acquired. Jonesy reminded us all that in times such as Covid, we are reminded that jobs, money and acquisitions, while good in and of themselves, are all uncertain, but that serving, building relationships, and finding joy are the truest expressions of success.

So as she begins Covid College today, I wish Molly and all the incoming Freshman great success. May you find joy in the great mysteries of the cosmos and the great stories of good literature. May you acquire a diverse portfolio of friendships that make the days warm and festive and may you take the skills and lessons you are striving to learn to better your corner of the world using the gifts and opportunities granted you. May you find the value in the story you are co-authoring. I can’t wait to see how it progresses.

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