I wasn’t the only one not receiving replies from The Foreigner, it turned out: The Child had been exchanging emails with him, an exchange that came to an abrupt stop over the summer, when he told her he was too busy and would write her again when he was less so.
I wondered about this, and checked his website, where he was posting about technology subjects and ranting about the ills of the second Bush administration, six years after it ended.
Fall arrived, and with it, a reply to her email. She told him about her summer volunteer job, helping with swim classes at a local pool. She liked the job because she was outdoors and active and as it turns out, she’s very good at encouraging little kids that the pool isn’t scary, but fun instead. Not only was it fun, she explained, but since she was volunteering, she could count it as community service, which is important on American college applications.
His reply can be distilled down to this: Don’t focus on college, not everyone needs it and you may be one of those that doesn’t. Spend your time having fun, not working.
Initially, The Child was less interested in the content of the message than she was in one of the details he mentioned in support of his College is Unimportant argument: that I had been an English major in college, which had nothing to do with the career path I chose. She was pretty sure I hadn’t been an English major, and wanted to know why he said that.
I could come up with several possible explanations, but since he was at my graduation and most certainly did know my field of study, I just shrug and say he’s being ridiculous. I know the real reason, of course; the man with two Master’s degrees of his own most assuredly does know the value of an education, as well as the cost of one.
The Child appears validated: He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and she’s going to set him straight in her reply. I’m going to college, she says, and that’s all there is to it.
I’m pleased with her determination to educate herself, and tell her so. I’m less pleased with her determination to educate him, but know better than to try to discourage her.