Nick says it’s sleep deprivation talking, I’m not so sure. After thinking we’d all gotten through Emilia’s junior year with our sanity intact, she tells us she doesn’t know why she’s going to college and therefore should take a year off, or maybe not go until she knows why. No reason to panic, right? Lot’s of kids take a gap year. Except this sudden about face isn’t Emilia, although her moodiness of late makes me think about the kid in The Exorcist. I don’t know how Nick stayed calm listening to Emilia’s announcement. Especially when she started talking about her education as nothing more than learning to clear one hurdle after another and preparing to live in a bubble. God, I wish I hadn’t lost it then. Telling Em that her father and I were sorry for making it possible for her attend one of the best private schools in NYC and making it possible for her to finish college without incurring a mountain of debt just set her off. This college admissions process is driving me crazy. All I ever wanted from the time she and her sister were born was for them to be happy. But with the way things are out there, everybody competing for everything, doesn’t Em have a better shot at happiness if she graduates from the best school she can get into? Maybe on some remote tropical island happiness has nothing to do with success, but on the island of Manhattan the two are bound at the hip.

Or are they? Is there a difference between success and fulfillment? Is fulfillment what we mean when we talk about happiness? And if that’s the case, is fulfillment or happiness dependent on success? These are complex questions made even more so when posed by a young person coming of age during a period of significant cultural change. A parent is left wondering what values or principles she can impart that will help her child judge what matters when disruptive innovation is considered a virtue. These questions are explored in Letters of Recommendation.

To Purchase

Online booksellers carry LettersAmazon, Barnes & Noble, Tower Books — and your favorite bookstore can order it for you — Letters of Recommendation by Maxine McClintock is published in The Reflective Commons (New York: Collaboratory for Liberal Learning, 2013). ISBN 978-1-937828-004, $24.95.

One thought on “Parents

  1. Rob Sheridan

    Ms. McClintock, your video interview really inspired me to encourage my son to apply to Trinity. I wanted him to be more like you and have more of what you have. He is a part of a prep program and we very laboriously applied for a total of 14 schools, pretty much the best ones. At the last minute he chose Trinity over Peddie and Horace Mann and HS of American Studies! I am proud of him for his (very) independent choice, and when I showed him that same video, he really liked it and shared it with his friends (how hard is that to accomplish from the born-in-2000 kids??) I really think that this video for this best-best school can really inspire kids who (objectively) cannot afford this great education — to still apply — and you should feel great about the fact that that is is a life-changing thing for families like mine. Your career as an educator is obviously much more significant, but I thought that maybe you didn’t hear enough about your lasting legacy in this little video. It really mattered so much to me. I am sure you know that you make a big difference, but if you forget it even for a second — let me be the dad who thanks you so much that it bridges that gap. Lucas Sheridan of The Bronx looks to you for inspiration, as do I.

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