Tonight, my older daughter and I sat in her high school library listening to a power point presentation on college financial aid – don’t nod off right now! Sitting there, wishing I had a cup of coffee, I glanced at my daughter’s eyes glazing over as she doubtlessly sat thinking of something else entirely. I added up the loan amounts for four years of college (holy cow!) and underlined my note: Don’t miss deadlines.
On our way out, I asked for the presenter’s email address, and she asked me if I had gone to college. I told her I had, but my dad filled out the forms – and that was in the prehistoric non-digital age. The woman commiserated that my dad had to xerox tax forms.
Driving home, my daughter remarked that no one used the word xerox anymore. Why do you and grandpa keep doing that? The word is copy.
I assured her xerox is definitely a verb. Like a more modern version of mimeograph.
She was silent a moment, driving through the darkness, and then she asked, Mimeograph? What’s that?
… Sometimes, I see parts of myself in my older daughter – an exasperation I had when I was younger at the adult world’s infuriating mediocrity, a why-can’t-you-get-yourselves-together-ness. At sixteen, on the cusp of stepping into her adult life, the whole great world of love and desire and ambition (and heartbreak, inevitably, although not too much, please) yet to spin out before her. And then sometimes, in that cyclical way time moves, I see my father reflected in me, all those careful files he kept, putting his three kids through college.
At home, I laid the evening’s materials in a folder on my desk. My daughter came into the room and asked with great seriousness, Can we do this?
I smiled at her. Piece of cake, I assured her. Meet deadlines, stay organized, follow the rules, fill out all the forms.
Forms are the easy part.
When we are loved, we wish the other to recognize our presence, and this is a very important practice. You must do whatever is necessary to be able to do this: recognize the presence of the person you love….
— Thich Nhat Hanh