TIM WILDMON: A daughter's academic journey leaves dad at net

So, my daughter, Wriley, the eldest of three offspring, is going to senior college at Mississippi State University this fall, having spent the her first two years at Northeast Mississippi Community College.
She went down for orientation this week, and she and an adviser put together a schedule of classes. She got home Monday night and decided it was too loaded down with hard stuff. Her mother, the lovely and talented Alison, and I looked it over and agreed. So I told her to go on-line and swap out one hard class for an easy class. Although, I must say, I never did back down from a difficult semester of learnin’ back when I was on campus in Starkpatch. No sir, I played the hand the school dealt me during the day and then dealt my own cards each night in the fall of 1982. Losing money at night and sleeping through class during the day would have cost me my academic scholarship had I had one. Fortunately, that was not a problem. But I did straighten up my priorities and graduated four years later with a grade point average.
But Wriley started reading potential classes out loud.
“Tennis, Beginning Karate, Beginning Golf, Introduction to Lifetime Leisure, Badminton…”
(Let me pause here a second to make an observation. Look at the word “badminton.” Would you have been able to spell it? My guess, 50 percent of Mississippians would not be able to spell it correctly. I would have spelled it badmitton. Do your own test and see what results you get.)
“Back up a minute,” I interrupted her mid breath. “What was that one before badminton?”
“Introduction to Lifetime Leisure?” she asked as she looked back at the computer screen.
“I have to know what that is,” I said. “I searched high and low for every sop class I could find when I was a at dear ol’ State and I don’t remember that one being offered. What is that about?”
“It says: Three hours lecture. A comprehensive examination of leisure from a psychological, sociological, economical and historical context. Includes an exploration of individual and group activities appropriate for lifetime involvement,” she read and then looked up.
“That sounds like a cruise,” I responded. “I would sign up for that class before it fills up. I would guess there is a waiting list a mile long for Introduction to Lifetime Leisure.”
Wriley just looked at me and smiled. She was not convinced that was the three hour lecture for her.
You know, as parents, we just have to let our kids make decisions like these – hard decisions – on their own as they move into adulthood. It wanted to say something, but then it dawned on me that I can’t force Introduction to Lifetime Leisure on my 21-year-old daughter. This is something she has to want to do without any pressure from me.
Sure, I could play the, “I’m paying for college, so you will take Introduction to Lifetime Leisure if I tell you to young lady,” card if I wanted to. But that might create a backlash of rebellion that has heretofore not been a problem with Wriley.
“I could take that fishin’ class,” she said, breaking the moment of awkward silence as I waited for her verbal decision about Introduction to Lifetime Leisure.
Her words wounded, I can’t lie. She had made her decision. There would be no Introduction to Lifetime Leisure in her future. At least her immediate scholastic future.
“What fishing class?” I asked, trying not to let the pain of her rejection show.
“Right here: Seminar in Wildlife and Fisheries.”
“Tell me more,” I said, my mind lingering on the cruise class.
“One hour lecture. Current topics and job opportunities in the field of wildlife and fisheries,” she responded.
“Yeah,” I said and seized one more opportunity.
“You could do that. Fishing and watching wild animals is a noble undertaking, no one questions that. But honestly, when we ask ourselves what is going to benefit Wriley more as you go down life’s highway, how does a one hour fishin’ class really stack up with an Introduction to Lifetime Leisure?” I said calmly, but with a somewhat pleading tone. “I mean really, how many fish can a person catch in one hour? You can eat for what, a week, maybe two. That’s a good hour. But in a lifetime of leisure you have midnight buffets. The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind.”
Admittedly, it was getting late and I was starting to talk out of my head. So I went on to bed as my all-grown-up-little-girl continued to look through the MSU on-line catalogue for another class to take. I have no idea what she chose. I don’t want to know…
Tim Wildmon is a community columnist who resides in Baldwyn. Contact him at twildmon@afa.net.

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