A friend of mine from college was in town so I messaged him immediately to if he’d have time to get together. It was great seeing him again because it brought back some great memories and encouraged me about today’s young people.
For the record, I feel like I’m 90 years old when I write ‘today’s young people,’ but in this context it’s true. My friend’s son is in his senior year of high school. My kids are 3 and 5. I don’t feel like an old dad, but suddenly, seeing a good friend from college talking about his life and what he does as a dad made me feel weird.
Having a child forces you to immediately grow up and become more mature. What would I have done had I become a father in my late 20s? It’s no big deal; lots of guys I know have become dads in their early 20s. It all worked out fine, but for me it seems alien and out of place. Being a dad-and more importantly, being mature enough to do it responsibly is something that I couldn’t even fathom until I was in my mid 30s.
My friend and I met for lunch at a Chick-Fil-A. He marveled that my sons were always by my side. They always wanted to be near me. Popping out of the playground room to ask questions, play peek-a-boo and generally be cute. “One day, they just stop wanting to be with you all the time. They get their license, get a group of friends and you’ll see them for dinner,” he said.
I peppered him with questions about raising older children and he put my concerns at ease. He and I met in college. My grades never measured up to my intelligence. I’m a smart person, but rarely studied in school. My friend agreed that he never studied in high school and I can attest to the fact that we both were studious in college.
As his son is about to go to college I asked about that process. To the delight of both of us that has changed for the better since we went. For starters, the pending college freshman have an idea of what they’ll be making and what to expect from their proposed major.
I never had an idea of how much money someone in radio would make. I also never had an idea of how much money it takes to exist, make it, succeed or prosper in the real world. Believe me, had the two information fields been filled in I would’ve gone after something more stable.
My friend didn’t choose wisely in his major either. However, his son knows how much he’ll realistically earn after graduation, job possibilities and where the employment opportunities are located. While a business major wasn’t sexy, different or unique, it’s what would’ve been a better choice for both of us.
He looked at Charlie, my 3-year old and smiled. He ironically stated that he wasn’t a talker like his dad. He went on to tell me about some of our friends who owned small business, were chefs, city planners and one who is a high ranking explosives expert for a large state bureau of investigations.
We marveled at how we all ended up in such a diverse arena of employment. He said that he was being upfront about the costs of college, how much they would cover and how much debt that he’ll have at the end of it. It was shocking to realize that our total for four years of college is only slightly less than 1 year of the school that he’ll be attending.
My friend had to start his drive home. He left me with the feeling that that the kids who are going to college today aren’t going in as blind as their parents did back in the day. It was also a great reminder that no matter how annoying, tiring, messy, repetitive and frustrating small children can be; a day will come where I’m not as cool to them as I am now.
A version of this first appeared on Daddy Mojo.