Jewish World Review July 16, 2004 / 27 Tamuz, 5764

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports


College kids have all the answers

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Every parent hopes some measure of enjoyment will accompany the price tag of sending a kid to college.


Our oldest is studying to become an architect. Because it takes several years to become fully licensed, architecture students often do the next best thing, which is begin improvements on their parents' homes. Or, in our case, the garage.


To retrieve a nail for hanging a picture, I must hop over three slabs of plywood, clear a half- dozen two-by-fours, and leap over a miter saw. I catch my sleeve on a board sticking out from a barrel filled with scrap wood and lose my balance. As I spiral to the ground, my life flashes before me — looking remarkably similar to a large red tool chest and a black- and-yellow DeWalt power drill. As I pick myself up off the concrete and brush off the sawdust, my builder looks up and says, "When I'm finished, this floor will be so clean you can eat off it."


Why would I want to eat off the floor? All I really wanted was a nail.


Our estimation is that the remodel, including the cost of his college education (plus two semesters of summer school and a laptop computer), is running us about $94 per peg-board hole and $75 per hook.


His building projects cost a less when he was 7 and worked with Legos, but with Legos you don't get amenities like two stereo speakers embedded in the ceiling of your garage. On the days I can't find the things I used to be able to find in the garage, I console myself with the thought that he is not in dental school. I imagine those parents find themselves tilted back in a recliner while a young person probes their mouths with nut picks and pocket mirrors searching for cavities, exposed roots and the feasibility of caps.


I say this based on experiences with our second child, who is pursuing a degree in health sciences. The perks we get from her course of study mainly occur when we are inactive. If her father so much as takes a nap on the couch, she rolls him over, clears his airway and assesses the best method of transport. If she sees me idle, she begins peering into my ear with a gadget called an otoscope.

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She wanders through the house reciting the 200 most commonly used prescription drugs by their trade name, generic name, drug category, using words like sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim and chlorpromazine. For all we know, she is making these up. In any case, we figure they run us about $350 per syllable, so we find them a source of immense satisfaction.


The youngest, whom we will ship out this fall to pursue a degree in education, is showing an early return on our investment. In classic teacher style, she now critiques the neatness of my desk, my posture and penmanship.


This week I scribbled down a phone message, and at the bottom she drew a box, put a check mark in it and wrote: "Legibility needs improvement."


The rich and rewarding dividends of all this education (the hammering, sawing, random blood-pressure checks and folding paper crafts) can be somewhat nerve-racking at times. When that happens, we simply remind ourselves that in a few short weeks all three of them will fan out, go to their separate colleges and take all of our money with them.


That single thought is the quickest route we know from nerve-racking to numb.

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of , most recently, "Pass the Faith, Please" (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) and I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.

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© 2004, Lori Borgman