College incommunicado

It’s a good thing that I follow our freshman daughter on Instagram so that can I get some insight into what she’s been doing in the six weeks that have passed since we helped her move into her dorm at Pepperdine in Malibu. I have yet to see any Instagram posts of her in the library with her current “Great Books” reading assignment – Plato’s The Republic – spread open in front of her or any snapshots of her typing away at her laptop even if she’s just feigning writing an essay for her psychology class.

Maybe she'll send us a message in a bottle
Maybe she’ll send us a message in a bottle

However, I have seen Instagram posts of her and her new friends eating cupcakes in Beverly Hills, shopping at the Urban Outfitters in Sherman Oaks, and watching street performers in Santa Monica. If she had her car with her and didn’t have to rely on her classmates for transportation off campus, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a photo of her negotiating with a street vendor in Ensenada, “Just wanted to find out if I remembered anything from Spanish class!”

Assuming that in between all this socializing and exploring , she is occasionally cracking open a text book or two, we are actually very relieved that she is exerting her independence and figuring things out on her own. In one of the few phone conversations we’ve had with her, she told me that she needed to write cover letters for the on-campus jobs she was applying to but she didn’t know what a cover letter was. Did she call me or Steve to ask? Of course not! Why would she want to call us, when from her perspective, she could find out how to write a cover letter faster, clearer and a without a whiff of parental judgment by Googling it.

However, when it came time to fill out a W-4 for her new job as a theater usher and she needed to know how many exemptions she should claim, she did call me – while I was at work, mind you, so she knew I wouldn’t be able to talk for more than a couple of minutes. No danger of mom really starting to pry with a laundry list of questions starting with “Have you washed your sheets and written your thank you notes?”

Jennifer Lynn’s primary reason for wanting to go to college was to get way-the-heck out of Dodge. For her, the only thing that would make Pepperdine better was if it overlooked the Atlantic Ocean instead of the Pacific. So by not communicating with us, she can make the distance between Cotati and Malibu seem like the other side of the world. Her next goal is to literally be on the other side of the world. Last week, she told us she applied to the study abroad program – and where does she want to go? Shanghai. Oh my.

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