When grandkids drop out of school


Has any one of us not been disappointed by a grandchild?  We love them unconditionally, and expect them to save the world.  When they decide not to, it is difficult to tell them how we feel.

I envy those families who have enough money to pay for kids’ college and trips around the world.  One professor we know took his family from one “wonder of the world” to another when the kids were quite young, keeping them out of their schools for a year.  The point was, I guess, to show them how big the world is, and what amazing things are here for them – in other words, to educate them.

We had to beg our younger son Tom, when he was a college freshman, to come with us to London.  With a sabbatical and an appointment to teach in the Arizona universities’ London program, we would be gone almost two years.  Even more than leaving him on his own, we wanted him to see you don’t have to have a car to get around.  He did find out – fast – and then wanted to go to school in Italy.  From there he wrote that the heater in his pensione “worked about as good as a dog’s breath,” and “because of the Duomo I can never get lost.”

Tom went back to Italy the next summer, to study and see his Italian girlfriend.  She had meanwhile fallen for a musician, so he traveled on to Sweden and Denmark.  It was from Copenhagen he called us and asked if we minded if he came back early:  “There are too many needles in the park.”

That might have been a foreshadowing of events to come.

About 8 years ago, Tom’s son refused to go to school for several months.  We didn’t know then that he was developing Juvenile Diabetes.  Max, now 16, has made us proud by putting super effort into school while also taking charge of his body.

Our oldest grandson was in college when his girlfriend became pregnant, so he had to go to work.  Our oldest granddaughter dropped out of high school twice and college four times and finally is going to summer school to get through some of those tough subjects one at a time.  She has a job waiting for her as the girls’ soccer captain.

I don’t think there will be dropouts among the other three, but if there are, it could be a good thing.  My new friend, our fishing guide in Wisconsin, just wrote that his younger daughter decided to leave school temporarily to care for her grandmother, who is recovering from breast cancer.

I believe in the gap year.  I also believe in taking one subject at a time.  I don’t know if any colleges allow that any more, but that’s how a lot of “returning” students get through.  God bless community colleges.

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