It occurred to me on the drive home from my daughter’s college graduation ceremony the other day, that I had never been to a college graduation before.  I myself went straight from high school into a full time, good paying, unionised job at the Vancouver Public Library.  I could afford to live on my own, and moved out when I was not quite 19 years old.

When my daughters got to that same age, it was sobering to realize that unless they could walk into a job like I did, which was highly unlikely, they were going to have to get some kind of certification or higher education that would lead to a better paying job and/or career.

So it was with great excitement and admitted relief that our oldest daughter graduated from her college program, completed her practicum and immediately began a new job with the same company.  Her plan is to move out with her boyfriend in a few months, once they have found a place and saved up a bit of money.

It wasn’t easy getting her to this point.  She had a lot of major issues to overcome in her young life, both physically and emotionally, and we worried half-to-death about her many times, especially during her teenage years.  Even after she decided on the program she wanted to get into, there were a number of hurdles in front of her and it took a long time to overcome them.  But she finally did.  And once she started her studies, she did exceptionally well and knew without a doubt that she had chosen the right path.  What could be better than that?

We have one daughter remaining who is very reluctant to leave her minimum wage job because she doesn’t know what she wants to do and doesn’t yet have the self-confidence to make a move in any particular direction.  One of her arguments to me was that I never went to college, so why should she? If I had known that my lack of higher education would eventually become her excuse to not pursue it, I’d have re-thought my path.  And then again, maybe not.

Every generation is faced with a different set of circumstances when they head out into the world on their own.  Even though I’m dismayed that my kids are still at home in their 20’s, I realize that so much in the world is different for them today.  Rents are phenomenally high, for one thing.  The cost of living is so out of control that we’ve come up with a new phrase called “living wage” which no one in a minimum wage job gets anywhere close to.  Life wasn’t like that when I was in my 20’s.  There were good paying jobs to be had if you got off your butt and looked for them.  But the availability of those jobs for kids coming right out of high school is pretty much non-existent now.  When the owner of the fast food business my daughter works for was faced with a legislated raise in the minimum wage, what did he do?  He cut back his staff’s hours.

It’s not that I am entirely unsympathetic to business owners, I’m aware of their struggle too.  I know a few small business owners who do nothing but worry about money because their leases, rents, products, license fees and many other costs keep going up too.

But getting a college or university degree isn’t always the answer either.  Many kids are saddled with huge debt for many years, almost impossible to get out from under.  And then you wonder about some of these university degrees and what they’re good for on a practical level.  But I digress.

What struck me at my first and only college graduation ceremony the other day was the enthusiasm and positive attitude of all of those wonderful young (and a couple of older!) students as they paraded across the stage.  The room was filled with hope, with excitement for the future and a strong belief in so many possibilities.  Students were proud, their families were proud and so were their teachers. Education does something profound and permanent to you.  Struggling with, and then succeeding at something teaches you more about yourself than you’ll ever know.  I’m hoping that my younger child will get that some day.

In the meantime, my eldest daughter is finally and happily on her way to an independent life.  That’s all a parent could ever want for their child.  I’ve never been so proud of her, and more importantly, I know she’s never been more proud of herself.

Congratulations my darling daughter.  Love always, Mom xoxoxo

Do The Right Thing

Who you are witnessing in the photo on the left is the guy who brazenly took my daughters iPad and iPhone as she was in the back of the store answering the work phone.  She had been sitting at a table on her break and had her gadgets with her.  I guess the temptation was too much for this guy when he saw them lying there on the table.  You can even see the iPad in his hot little hand.  We know who he is, because we all used social media and this picture to try and find him, but the police can’t do much about it unless they catch him red-handed.  At this point the devices may very well be in other hands by now.  It’s infuriating.

If you look carefully in the background, you can see a stroller, which contains his son.  The guy actually left his son in the store while he stole my daughter’s things.  This infuriates me even more.  His girlfriend and mother are at the counter, which is harder to see.  When he signals them from outside, they grab the stroller and leave without buying anything.  It was all a set up.

I’ve been robbed before a couple of times and I know how it feels.  It’s like someone has personally violated you.  It teaches you a few lessons, sure, but the anger that it brings up is unexpected and surprising the first time it happens.  Even if you’ve never had any violent tendencies in your life, this experience makes you want to hit someone.  Hard.

I had the same gut reaction when I was sitting with my daughter just after it happened;  she had called us and we immediately went to see her to get the whole story.  One of her co-workers said that she thought the family had all gone to the mall across the street afterwards.  My first reaction was to go to the mall myself and hunt for them, but my husband could see my fury and wanted me to cool down.  Eventually he gave in and off we went on the hunt, with no luck.

Afterwards my husband asked me what I would have done if we had found them.  I had had time to think it through while we were looking and decided I would have simply stalked them until I made them uncomfortable.  Then I would have suggested they call the police.  Or I would.  Ha!  But I never got the chance to pull my caper off.

The loss of a thing is not the worst experience in the world.  It’s just a thing.  Since this event, I’ve been thinking about who these people are and what would make them do what they did.  Not that there is any excuse, but maybe they don’t have a lot of money or are down on their luck or maybe this kind of criminal behaviour just runs in the family.  Who knows what their story is?  My family and I are not without compassion, and we understand that even though we are not independently wealthy, we have a lot more than many do.

I don’t expect my daughter will see her belongings again.  But if the guy is out there and sees this, all you have to do is bring the stuff back to where you took it from and we’ll let it go.  Just do it for yourself, and for your son, who is always watching you and what you do and who is going to live his life by your example.  Do you really want him to grow up to be a petty thief, or do you want something better for him?  Think about that, and then do the right thing.  Please.