Good luck in Austin
Normally I don’t write personal things here, but today I’m going to make an exception. If you’re not interested, I won’t be offended if you stop reading.
As most of you know, for the first 33 months I had this blog, I wrote it anonymously. Other than a handful of people I told and a handful more who figured it out, it wouldn’t have made sense for me to write include personal stories here.
That was really hard for me in 2014 when my son Jordan graduated from high school, moved into an apartment with friends, and took a trip to Italy, all within a week. As proud as I am of my profession, I’m even prouder of my children. Jordan is brilliant and lives about five miles away, attending his second year of college. He’s one of the most considerate kids young men I’ve ever known. Every time I see him, I feel like his mom and I have done something right.
I also don’t want to slight my youngest, Duncan, who is a sophomore at Norman North. As an eighth grader, she managed to raise $2,000 by herself to go on a mission trip to Haiti. She has been an athlete and is a talented actress and singer. She has had the same group of friends, more or less, since early in elementary school. There are a lot of them, but they are great kids. She has more honors and accomplishments at this age than I probably have had by the time I was twice her age. She has unlimited potential and drive, and I can’t believe we only have three years left with her at home.
Today though, is about our middle child, Stockton, who leaves tomorrow to start college at the University of Texas. I’ll see her soon enough; Friday, I’m going down to Austin to help her move into her dorm. Still, for a while anyway, tonight is her last night at home, in her own bed, secure with her parents down the hall.
As last year unfolded, I can’t tell you how many people asked me where Stockton was going to attend college. She started with a long list of schools. Ultimately, she was going to be at one end of I-35 or the other. Her final choices were UT and the University of Minnesota. She didn’t apply in-state. Most of the people at work asked me how I could let my daughter go so far away.
It’s easy. I’m a realist. I know this child. Just try to stop her.
This world is bigger than Oklahoma. She wants to see more than the area where she’s lived her whole life. She has academic interests and career goals, most of which could have been met had she matriculated from Norman High School to the University of Oklahoma. After all, that’s what I did. I took the safe route; I just rolled down the street.
Probably what I admire most about Stockton is that she’s willing to shed comfort for adventure, for opportunity. She doesn’t take the safe way out of anything. I guess another way of saying that is that sometimes she infuriates her mother and me by making things harder than they have to be. Still, I think it’s this strong will that will serve her well as she fiercely takes on the world.
Stockton has always marched to drums that no one else necessarily heard. When she was a toddler, she would just make up words, and they would stick. When she was learning to count, and we introduced her to abstract concepts like a million and a billion, she naturally assumed that the next level up was a stillion. A stillion is still the hyperbolic word choice around here for large sums of money. For example, your back to school shopping budget isn’t a stillion dollars! She also gave us the word skrunkle, which is a measure of cheese. This is an actual conversation that happens here:
–Would you like a skrunkle of cheese?
-Could I get a half-skrunkle?
I think most families are like this; they have a sub-language that only makes sense to them. I also know that what I’m experiencing is hardly unique. Kids grow up. They go to college. They move away. For a while, I probably won’t want to go in her room. Or maybe I’ll knock on the door, expecting an answer. Perhaps I’ll be so busy with the new job and Duncan’s activities that this will seem normal sooner than I expect.
As a parent, I don’t second-guess every decision we’ve made. I look at the big picture, though. Is Stockton ready for the world? Yes. No. Maybe. Probably. Is it ready for her? Who knows…
My belief as an educator is that our job is to prepare the students to have as many choices as possible by the time they graduate from high school. I think we’ve met that standard as parents. I think the Norman Public Schools did their part too. It’s more than that though.
has become this young lady
yet there are times I wish they could be like this forever:
(yes, they’re going to be furious at me for that last one)
Stockton, you have an unbelievable future ahead of you. The only thing that could stop you is you. I feel I have inadequate words for telling you how proud your mom and I are of everything you’ve already done, and everything you can do. Since my own words fail me now, I’ll close with my favorite lines from your favorite Billy Joel song, Vienna.
You got your passion, you got your pride
But don’t you know that only fools are satisfied?
Dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true
When will you realize… Vienna waits for you?
Good luck, Stockton. Good luck, Austin. And as much as it pains your Sooner-grad parents to say this, Hook ‘em!*
*offer not valid Oct. 10