Tuesday, October 28, 2008
You'll thank me later
Joanna's blog yesterday hit upon a question I've had for a long time. One of the maxims of the Catholic Church as I knew it in the pre-Vatican II days was Suffering Builds Character. On a daily basis our parents turned that into: the harder you work, the more you'll appreciate what you have.
Thus, the fact that I had my first job at 13, as soon as I could reach the cash register at the hot dog concessions on Revere Beach Boulevard, translated into what a stellar, upright person I'd turn out to be. I'd be so grateful later in life.
If my parents had it right, then we're all doing a disservice to our kids, making it easy for them, providing them with a worry-free childhood.
Through the years I've watched the next generation among my family and friends enjoy not only work-free high school days, but also "the college experience" – one young woman, in fact, lived less than a half hour away from campus, yet she lived in the dorm. She could have taken the wonderful, clean BART train (as opposed to the oldest system in the country, Boston's MTA) to class every day and still had free time. But her parents wanted her to have the college experience.
Is she worse off than I am? Less grateful for her education? Hard to tell.
I was led to believe that commuting a long distance every day to my college classes and working when I wasn't in class meant that my education would mean more to me. Again, one day I'd be so grateful that I didn't waste my youth hanging around college dorms, having fun with my classmates, instead of living on a steady diet of work and class and chores.
Was that a crock? How can I tell? Would I have accomplished more in life if I'd had the luxury of paid tuition? Would I have done better if I could have studied in the school library instead of on a rattling, swaying trolley?
Don't get me wrong – I don't want to go back and pick up what I missed. But I can't help wondering.