47: Life Lessons From a Female Dog

47: Life Lessons From a Female Dog

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Getting In...To College

Life Lessons from a Female Dog

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.

~William Wordsworth

When my daughter was applying to colleges last year, I gave her some unsolicited advice — don’t waste too much angst on your essay. It’s the body of your work in high school that counts. Nonetheless, my daughter did want to give these admissions gatekeepers a taste of her personality, and she did spend quite a bit of time on her college essay. After she clicked the mouse and sent the common application zooming the cyber air waves, she let me read her essay.

Yikes! The title of her essay was “Life Lessons from a Bitch”! I froze in my tracks. “What the blankety-blank were you thinking?” I blasted at her! Then, I blamed myself for not being a “helicopter mom” and insisting on reading her essay before she cursorily submitted it.

Upon reading her words, my stance softened. Her essay tenderly described what she had learned from raising her puppy, as well as lessons learned from caring for and breeding Sweetie, and finally the lessons learned from the death of her dog. I misted up. It was a good essay in my opinion, the opinion of a doting mother. Of course, I apologized to my teen and blamed my initial over-reaction on my own silly anxiety regarding college admissions.

My daughter was rejected from some colleges. And, she was accepted by others. The college she chose to attend was a recipient of that essay with the questionable title. Did the bold title help her? Hurt her? Who knows?

My point in rehashing this anecdote is that although mothers and fathers think they know best, they just might not. My advice to a fellow parent who’s now wearing the moccasins I was in a year ago is: “Down, Boy!” Roll over, play dead, whatever it takes to force you, the over-involved parent, to back off.

Let your kid apply with minimum intrusion from you. Stifle the censoring Jiminy Cricket and get off your kid’s shoulder! It will turn out okay. And, unlike the popular ’50s TV show Father Knows Best, sometimes, it’s the kids who actually do know best and can teach us a lesson or two.

~Erika Hoffman

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