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Our Story Begins: Dad’s Dirty Dozen.. Lessons For My College-Bound Daughter

Casual group of college students smiling - isolated over a white backgroundOur Story Begins: Dad’s Dirty Dozen.. Lessons For My College-Bound Daughter 

In three weeks, I hit yet another major milestone for our family in our new life. That life, you see, is only two years old..  The life I had ended at the end of March in 2011 when my wife, Andrea, passed away.  Since then we’ve faced a number of firsts: First birthdays. First Thanksgiving. First Christmas. First prom. First graduation.

Now I’m facing the first one going off to college.  Abbi, my oldest daughter, is heading off to a liberal arts school in the Pacific Northwest. She’s thoroughly excited.

But college education is coming after learning a few things. Okay, more than a few.

My oldest got her first major lesson in personal economics when we both were denied for student loans. My decisions in the wake of losing my wife were unavoidable, but losing a home and the bank forgiving Andrea’s student loans upon her death didn’t help us. Abbi now bugs me if a bill is a few days late, even if some of that is due to paying her college tuition.

There are other things I’d never thought about that have changed drastically since I went to college in 1988. This led to my laundry list of things I still had to teach her.

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*LESSON 1: There is no more computer lab; well there may be one, but I doubt many use it. The school, hell all the schools Abbi applied to, had “laptop computer” or “iPad” or both on the top of the student materials list. I think I had a typewriter.  A manual one.

*LESSON 2: You don’t really need a car. Her campus is self-contained, right by the Amtrak station and there are shuttles for the airport each holiday. Everything else is in walking distance.

*LESSON 3: Dorm supplies are important but you don’t (and shouldn’t) pay full price for anything fancy; even her laptop isn’t bright, shiny or  fancy. That way, should it get torn, soiled, beaten or borrowed…she won’t miss it too much.

*LESSON 4: Flip Flops! Yes, I know it’s the Northwest, but rain and cold don’t eliminate viruses that give you plantar warts. Shower with the flip flops or swim shoes on and you’ll avoid having liquid nitrogen spearing your feet like a DC comic book villain.

ABOUT SAFETYphotodune-724009-safety-xs

*LESSON 5: You’ll get a credit card eventually but I mean it when I say it’s for emergencies. I don’t worry too much here, she’s aware of my credit situation and she wants to keep things safe.  Besides, she’s not going to have a very high credit limit (see above paragraphs).

*LESSON 6: Never, ever, ever, ever, ever take an open drink from someone else. I’m not stupid enough to think she’s unlike her mother (okay, her dad, too).  Abbi might very well be at parties, have drinks, experiment with her immortality. But not to sound too much like the cautionary tale of Robert Johnson – open containers, bottles, however innocent sounding are just too dangerous.  She’s cute, feisty, and I am a paranoid father, worrying about what happens when hormonal guys with too much ingenuity and not enough brains experiment with drugs in drinks. Abbi’s mother had been date raped; it damaged her in ways she only realized years later. I don’t want that for my daughter. I already got the “I knoooowww, Dad!” line. I informed her I was going to keep hammering on this anyway.

LESSON 7: Walk in groups. Don’t walk alone at night, even on a small campus, unless you’re with a friend and know where the security phones are.

LESSON 8: Don’t ignore your health! Know where the student health department is and don’t think that all nighters for finals and exams are best for you. Add your new-found freedom to your exposure to tons of new people and you are apt to get sick. Quickly.

LESSON 9: Keep your phone with you all the time. I will try not to call all the time or text or FaceTime or Facebook or Tweet or Instagram…but you can feel free to do all of the above with me.

ABOUT LIFE photodune-3006601-life-xs

LESSON 10: Dating, love, relationships, all those are part of growing up but don’t make that the main focus for your college life. I met Abbi’s mother when I had failed at every relationship and had stopped looking. More importantly: don’t lower yourself to attain a relationship. Love will happen but relationships are based on friendship. Someone who knows you’re beautiful as well as smart, funny and quirky will give you the greatest joy.

LESSON 11: Know a little about everything. I’ve often been accused of having a brain filled with the most odd groupings of miscellany. That useless information, though, allows me to have intelligent, wonderful conversations and meet the most interesting people and most adventurous of activities.

LESSON 12: I’m always here. Home may not be, after four years, or eight, or ten or whatever, the home we’re in now. I may have a smaller house.  I may move to Cardiff, Wales and work for the BBC. I may tour the world opening for Eric Clapton (hey, she has her dreams; I still have mine!) But holidays will forever be reserved for the family, and wherever we are will be home because we’ll all be there

That is the biggest lesson of them all. ***************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

What about you?  Have you had these discussions with your college-bound kid?  Have you thought about them?  Have you discussed how to be safe?

More from GEM:

Our Story Begins: Tackling The Vaccination Consternation

10 From GEM: 10 Ways To Get Ready For Back-To-School 

The GEM Debate: Do You Have The Right NOT To Know?


Dave Manoucheri framed headshot

Dave Manoucheri is a writer, journalist and musician based in Sacramento, California. A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins is a chronicle of their life after the loss of his wife, Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.  


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