Some of the topic ideas I came up with in under 15 minutes:
- Growing up bilingual in a dual national home
- What watching TV shows with my mother has taught me
- How Tumblr has changed my outlook on life
- Places I've traveled to and which was my favorite and why
- My mom didn't have to write a college essay or, how things were better before
- Having a conversation that doesn't have to do with goals, responsibilities or expectations
As far as I can tell, college entrance essays only have to be 1-2 pages long, around 650 words, which isn't all that much. And you can write about anything you want. It's like writing a blog post, right? You don't always have to have an idea of what you are going to write about before you start. You just sit down and start writing. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's not, but at least you have something to start with.
My eagerness to help is being seen as annoying and interfering, so I apparently need to take a step back. If Martin wants to go to college, he knows what he needs to do. I can't do it for him. All I CAN do is remind, and help, and nag, and suggest, and...well, PARENT. If I don't do those things, am I failing as a parent? If he doesn't do the things necessary to get to the place he claims to want to achieve, have I failed as parent? How much of what your children achieve or do is on your head as a parent? If they're not motivated, is it YOUR fault?
I have friends with over-achieving, academically-motivated wunderkinds. And I have friends with slacker, lethargic, layabout kids. And I have friends with kids that fall in between those two extremes. As far as I can tell, they are all caring, helpful, supportive parents; doing their best to raise their kids to be productive and valuable citizens of the world. They're not doing anything different from the things my husband and I are doing. They're providing all the environment and opportunities and challenges and support that will best help their children make something of themselves. Some of their kids are going to college and some of them aren't, even among the first group.
Of course I WANT him to go to college. I think it will be great for him. I think he will appreciate and grow from the experience, and of course, it doesn't hurt that it will increase his chances of getting a better-paying, more stimulating job in the long run. But, he doesn't HAVE to go to college. He doesn't even have to move out of the house.
However, if he DOESN'T go to college, he has to get a job and pay rent, either here or in his own place. He can't just sit around and play computer games and mess about on Tumblr and Snapchat and SMS all day. That's not how the world works. Because the world works. At least the vast majority of it does.
I wasn't the world's most motivated kid, when it came to grades and school. I was pretty average. I was good at English and art and social studies and poor in math and hard sciences and gym. I don't remember how much my parents pushed or nagged or motivated me when it came time for me to do the things I needed to do to apply for college. Maybe it's a difference between Sweden and America. I get the feeling that in the US, more kids are on a path to do the expected things: finish high school, go to college, get a "useful" degree, get a well-paying job, get married, have kids, support their parents in their old age... at least more middle- and upper-class kids. Here, there doesn't seem to be the same kind of imperative or urgency to check off those items on your Game of Life list.
And that's fine. Like I said, he doesn't have to go to college. But he says he wants to. He wants to study in Canada or the US, but to do that, he has to first do the things required to actually get there, and like I said as well, I can't do them for him. But I can remind, and help, and nag, and suggest, and...well, PARENT to assist him in getting there. And I can write about what's happening and how it makes me feel and say, look at that: 857 words.
All you have to do is begin somewhere. Every essay is just a story. It doesn't matter if it's perfect. It's NOT easier said than done. It's just a matter of making a start. And if you don't like the result, sit down and start anew, until you ARE satisfied. Just think how it will shut your mother up.