Whence the minions came to me, seeking my munificence as laird of Bruce manor, I said unto them: “Daughters, kneel close, for I shall not sayest unto thee again.”
And so they did.
“Uh, Dad,” one queried, “What do you want?”
The other one, loaded with homework, merely uttered, “I don’t have time for this. . .Can you write me a letter, or something?”
I bellowed, as befits the King of the Castle, Nay! “Now here’s the deal: I command you both to become print journalists. In this way, you will carry on a valiant tradition – now three generations in the making – of making no money, subjecting yourself to the whims of editorial style, and becoming a self-loathing supplicant of various chain-store media flavors. Oh, and by the way, you should go to college poste haste, rack up enormous debt to prepare yourself for the life of which I speak, and spend the rest of your productive careers looking for good gigs interviewing rappers and garden ladies on CBC. Sound like a plan?”
Oddly enough, my minions don’t remember any of this – most likely because none of this actually happened, except, perhaps in my own feverish brain on a night when I had hoped that I would be heard, considered and then, finally, dismissed as any kind of example.
Indeed, if you read a recent RBC report you discover that “parents underestimate the influence they have over their children’s education. . . While 28 per cent of students say they chose the program they’re in to please their parents, only 21 per cent of parents think they have this influence. What’s more, when it came to deciding whether or not to go to post-secondary school, 10 per cent of students made this decision to satisfy their parents, but half as many parents felt the same.”
I’m reasonably certain that when I decided to go to Dalhousie University and study geology, physics and math in the late 1970s, it was not to please my artistically inclined, journalistically bent parents who – upon hearing my freshman-year course selections – could barely contain their mirth. As it happened, within a year, I had joined them in the general, family giggle.
Yet, I do remember my father and mother encouraging me to follow my dream, whatever it was, in my young life.
I also remember telling my own kids to do the same. One is now an analyst in early childhood education. One is a practicing veterinarian.
Says Mandy Mail, director of Student Banking at RBC Royal Bank: “From choosing which school to attend to selecting a program, students are making decisions to please their parents. It’s important for parents to maintain an open line of communication to ensure students are being thoughtful with their approach and to help ease the stress and encourage a more optimistic outlook on their future.”
Well, Mandy, with all due respect, that just sounds like another speech from another throne situated on a podium to which both students and their parents come to worship, hoping to score the bucks necessary to fill the banking industry’s notion of mortgage-worthy success.
Here, young ones, have another interest-free credit card. Do your university courses dovetail with our actuarial tables predicting income success? If so, have another credit card. Have three.
Come minions; come to us. We’re not your mum or dad. Worship at the feet of the real King of the Castle, mammon.
Unlike your parents, who love you unconditionally and support just about any direction you choose, we’re simply waiting at the crossroads.