Thursday, November 29, 2012

Helping Your Child Select A College

   When my oldest son finished his junior year in high school, he’d already fallen victim to high-pressure marketing campaigns perpetrated by American universities – plus one from Sydney, Australia.
   The more considerate institutions of higher tuition even enclosed applications for student loan sharks for his convenience.
   Meanwhile, my son was so pacific, he had no clue what he wanted to study. (His own mother, after all, had felt no pressure to make a hasty career choice.  After four decades.) 
   But when 8X10 glossies started to arrive featuring bikini-intensive women sprawled across ocean-front campuses, the kid got restless to pick an ocean.
  One afternoon, as he sifted through the latest barrage of mailbox propaganda, he asked me soulfully to share with him – as his professional mother – my opinion of his talents.  I was touched.  So before I rendered an opinion, I consulted my recipe files.
   Now, I’m not being flippant about my ‘professional mother status.’ I don’t even read recipes or cook in any traditionally–accepted way. So long ago, I converted this vacant file box to a Quote Holder: a repository in which to store memorable utterances my kids spouted while growing up.  Things like, “Mom, what’s a ‘kosh’?”
    “A ‘kosh’!?  I don’t know.  Spell it.”
    “You know, like when you throw ‘kosh’ into the wind.”  Like that.
   I figured a glimpse at this son’s extra-lengthy section might lend insight into his aptitude and interests, from which a handful of college majors might spring.
   Together, we reviewed years of his razor-sharp whimsy, then brainstormed for careers in the following manner: “Mom, take a look at this one: In first grade I said, ‘Me and my Dad are like Father and Son.  So whadya think?  Family Therapy? Social Worker?”
   “I don’t know.  Grammarian?”
    rolls eyes
   “Okay, honey, what about … ‘Geneticist’?”
    “Cool,” he said and wrote this down.

   So it went, until we had sufficient careers to put his troubled mind to rest, or we ran out of cards.
   The following is the result of our work starting with quotes uttered at various developmental stages, followed by appropriate career paths.

 Grade 2: “Are alligators and crocodiles enough alike to mate?”

Career Options:  Biotechnology / Human Sexuality Double Major

 Grade 3: “How do you pronounce our religion?”
                “You mean, ‘Protestant'?"
                “THAT’S it. I always get that confused with ‘prostitute.’”

           Career Options:  Comparative Religions, Speech Therapy

             Grade 4:   “Why can’t tree bark be called Tree Crust?"  
             Botanical Linguistics Upstart

Grade 5:  If blood is really blue then turns red when it hits the air, why is it red  
 when a nurse draws it through a needle from the vacuum created by an
airtight syringe?”
            Hematologist/Professional Geek

Grade 6:  Statistically, is it possible for everyone to win the lottery if they play each day and live forever?”
 Statistics / Immortality Double Major

Grade 7:  “Look! I can palm my own head!”
 NBA Center

Grade 8:  Anonymous Poetry

My best friend’s not reel TALL.
I shoved his face in a WALL.
He called me DOPE
I said NOPE
Then I made him FALL.

Correctional Facility Maintenance Staff

  Grade 9:  Why are there so many lawyers?  My best friend wanted to be one
‘til he found out there were so many.  Now he wants to be an assassin.”

             Reality TV Talent Scout
Grade 10:  After falling off skateboard.  “Man, my lower back KILLS!”

            Follow-up, same incident:  Mom: “Gosh, do you want to see a chiropractor or 
            physical therapist?”
 Son: “No, but I might want to see Terminator 2.”

 Film Critic/Law, Double Major      

 Grade 11, Real Time:  Son to brother who mistakenly sweeps Quotes off table walking by:

      “Nice move, RE-boy.” 
Mom:  “ExCUSE me.  Why is what you said wrong?”
Son:  (sighs) “’ Because. . .’using a sub-group as a swear insults members of that group.’”
Mom:  “Yes. And what do we say about insults?”
Son:  “They’re okay as long as you use them correctly.”

Public Relations or Presidential Election-Campaign Manager

*BONUS CAREER:   Son ‘noogies’ mother as she jots down a career. Mother accidentally ‘inks out’ a line. 
              Mom: “Watch out or I’ll write on YOU.”
              His brother.  “Or write more ABOUT you.”
               Son:  “Yeah, and get rejected.”

               Entire Staff of The Atlantic

   Not only were we able to come up with absolutely nothing viable, my son became so frightened by his own American childhood, he decided to apply to the Indian Ocean in Australia to major in general electives.
   And so, it is clear that with a little parental understanding and teamwork, this very troubling life decision can be successfully compounded by confusion, panic, and the need to acquire a passport.
   Therefore, I recommend that parents everywhere begin to cook recklessly and fill their recipe boxes with embarrassing childhood memories that eventually can be read by strangers – that your children, too, may abscond to a different country upon their high school graduation.
   If there is anything else I can do for you and yours, don’t hesitate to write it down -- then burn it.

WHAT!? Speak into my EYES so I Can See What You're Saying

   Back in the day, most people preferred to NOT wear their glasses. The only reason I ever wear mine is that I can’t see when I take them off.
   Frankly I’m considering Lasik surgery, since recent improvements make the procedure more effective and last much longer, like George Foreman grills and Ferbies. 
  Cuz I’ll tell you, those of us who wear glasses wish we did not need them. 

   There are tons of reasons for this:  if our glasses break, life as we know it ends.  We cannot drive, we can’t walk around, we can’t feed ourselves or think or even breathe because we are unable to locate the really good air as we cannot see it without our glasses.
   We also can’t hear without glasses. 
   This is a common phenomenon Optometrists giggle about at Optometric Conventions. “Yeah, I had Mrs. Wacknagel in the hydraulic chair and I aimed her eyes at the eye chart and said, ‘Read the first line,’ and SHE says, get this, ‘I can’t HEAR you. Speak into my EYES so I can see what you’re saying.’”
   Optometrists also giggle about how sign language was invented by nearsighted people trying to read an eye chart.
   This is not true.  Everyone knows it was invented by the pretty, smiling brunette lady who worked on Sesame Street.

   People hate being so depending on their eyewear. That’s why the Declaration of Independence includes a clause called ‘Freedom To Wear Contacts’.  Unfortunately, contact-wearers began losing this eyewear at Optometric Expos.  Which led to the invention of the Disposable Contact Lens. That way, people could drop contacts onto carpeting and leave them there to melt, then pop a fresh lens into their eye. 
   Unfortunately, disposable lenses also melted in peoples’ eyes, which caused corneal ulcerations and lawsuits. Which meant that most of us were stuck wearing glasses until our species evolved better eyes or bigger lawyers.

   Glasses wouldn’t be half as bad if we didn’t have to endure the Ritual Eye Exam.  

 “Hello, I am Carolyn. I am here for my 5:30 eye exam.”
 “We’ll be taking your glasses now.”
 “What?  Shouldn’t I fill out some forms first? I’ll NEED my glasses to fill out the fo—“
 “We won’t be using any forms, Carolyn.  Doctor will ask you all the questions he needs, so if you’ll just give me your gl—“
 “Let me try and find my credit card first. I want to PAY you for this exam and—“
 “Doctor utilizes third party billing through your insurance company. Now hand over the glasses.”
 “Oh, LOOK! It’s Lady Gaga!”
  Receptionist whisks glasses off and spirits them to a small room where muffled giggles are heard.

  Next, a deer with blonde hair sidles up.

  “Hello, my name is Bambi and I’m going to be your guide.  I realize everything is a weensy bit fuzzy right now. But your exam will begin soon. Can I get you some coffee?”
 “What? I can’t hear a word you’re saying.  Hey.  What is that THING coming out of your head?”
 “What thing?  You mean my EAR?”
 “I already SAID I can’t hear, but what is that thing com—“
 “Here, Carolyn, let’s you and I cross the Eyeland Bridge over to Frame World where you can feel around to select some new frames. Meanwhile, several technicians will observe you from a two-way mirror to see how much you fall without your glasses. This helps Doctor determine how much to change your prescription.

 “Over here we carry our designer frames, and some stunning frameless lenses held up with just a nose clip.  OOOPS, that is a philodendron.  Let me get that off your face.”

 The exams were worse.

 An optometrists sits you in a dentist’s chair and puts big machines over your eyes that you look through to read the alphabet, which is in random order, but you won’t know this because the optometrist is busy making the machine cause double vision and hallucinations.  He says things like, “Is it better now… or NOW?”  “Is this better… or how about…THIS?”
  After you tell him you can’t see anything until he takes the machine off your face, the optometrist puts drops into your eyes that make you go blind.

 “Excuse me. What did you just put in my eyes?”
 “Nothing. Now if you’ll just—“
 “What do you mean nothing?  My eyes are numb and you look orange.”
 “It’s just some eye medicine, Carolyn, with an anesthetic in it and some dye.  Now just LEAN—“
 “Why do my eyes need anesthesia?  What are you going to do to them?”
 “Nothing, Carolyn, NOTHING. If you’ll just take some deeeep breaths.  Okay, good. Now, lean forward so I can put this pointed instrument directly onto your eyeball to look inside your brain and read your mind.  Ha ha ha.  Just a little optometrist humor!
 “Well, now.  Mmm hmm. OK! All done.  Hello, Carolyn, are you alright?”

    Once Bambi returns you to consciousness with several slaps to your cheek, she gives you your old glasses back and says your new lenses will be ready in about an hour. 
    An hour in Optometric Time is between five and twelve business days, and you should arrive for your fitting ceremony drunk.
    That is so the frames you selected by means of Braille will appear to look nice.
    By the time you sober up at home and realize the new glasses make you look like a very large insect, the optometric mall franchise will be subsumed by Burger King.
   And so, it was the Archaic Ritual Eye Exam and Fly-Disguise Frames that gave way to industrialist-style Lasik Surgery and I for one want to be the first in line …  for the 6th Gen Procedure … due out in 2015, when Halo 12 is released. 
   See you there in either line.