Pompous and circumstance

Humor: College graduation day through the lens of a proud, and penniless, parent.

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Hello, fellow parents. Congratulations to all of us for having made it to our children's college graduation day. We know in their quiet way they are thanking us. They may not be saying it in so many words – indeed, in any words – but we know what is in their hearts.

To begin, I'm sure you'd all like to join me in congratulating the school for reaching their goal of a billion-dollar endowment. And a big hurrah to their accountants for figuring out how not to use that money to lower tuition. I'm hoping they have time to help me next income tax season.

As for our children, I know that the summer spent studying the footprints of the lost tribes of Borneo is going to make a significant difference in their future. I'm not sure if it will result in writing a bestselling novel, or a hit TV show, or starting a successful hedge fund. But I just know that moment when my child in particular yelled, "I think it's a toe!" will echo down through the years. The $10,000 extra I spent for that summer in the jungle – about a dollar a mosquito bite – is all part of the gushing flow of education my lucky child received at this fountain of higher learning.

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Oh, sure, I know there are cynics out there who scoff at a list of courses that includes, "The Underbelly of 19th-century Clog Dancing," "King Lear as an Image in the Development of the Light Bulb," and "Hollywood Star Maps – Cultural Icons as a Learning Tool for Third World Immigrants." But I know my fellow parents will agree this is not the time to picket in front of the president's house.

This is a time to appreciate all the work that has gone into making sure the greens on the campus golf course are Bermuda grass. That the football team's private jet has enough room between rows for the players to keep their knees loose on the way to Hawaii. And that students learn that sleeping late can be an art.

I know we all want to thank the university for making sure our bills kept coming on time. Next year my Christmas cards are going through you. And, of course, no mention of Christmas would be complete without a big thanks for offering to name the Latvian Studies building after any of us who donates $100 million.

What our children have learned here may be incalculable to some, although I have estimated it comes to somewhere around $150,000. That's give or take (mostly give) an additional $10,000, $20,000, or even $30,000 if we include the attorney's fees for that oh-so-cute freshman prank.

It would be wrong, too, not to thank the university for attempting to keep our children in contact with us over the four years, even though the course "Learning How to Write Home" had to be dropped due to lack of attendance. Still, I applaud the school for putting it in the curriculum and the Peak family for donating the $10 million necessary to build the Writing Home Building.

So, thank you, university. Thank you for everything. But most of all thank you for making sure the road off campus is one way.

Chuck Cohen, an advertising writer, lives in Mill Valley, Calif. 

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