College is Optional, Kid

Yesterday, Silas (5), asked me, “Daddy, do I have to go to college?” Without any hesitation, I responded, “Nah. You don’t have to.” Lindsay offered some clarification from the kitchen, “It depends on what you want to study.”

“Well, if I don’t want to do science, can I not go to college?”

“There are a lot of different things you can do at college besides science,” she answered. Meanwhile, I’m thinking. “Why the hell are we talking about college? He’s five.”

I continued with my un-nuanced advice, “It’s optional. No one has to go to college.”

“Well, I don’t want to go then.”

“Sounds good to me.” Believe it or not, that’s my honest answer. I don’t care. In fact, I would rather he find some kind of passion (no motorcycles or iguanas) rather than enter college blindly, half-ass his way through it, become an insurance adjuster and then a contestant on the Bachelorette.

I also know that my answer didn’t’ really matter because, save a handful of wacky performance artists, no adult has ever said, “I knew from the age of five that I didn’t want to go to college.” People change their minds, and Silas was probably imagining college as a place that forces people to do things they don’t like, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him that’s what high school is.

Lindsay, who lovingly errors on the side of young children being impossibly wise, now believes that Silas is destined to become a singer because…well, he’s mentioned a few times that he wants to be a singer and there’s this “I don’ t want to go to college thing” and apparently Silas is “an old soul” and Mercury is in retrograde and a dove was seen sipping the tears of a scarecrow and someone is PMSing.

Since it’s been decided and written on a ceremonial sword or chalice of some kind that our elder heir will be a singer, we (Lindsay) had to consider whether he will have a good enough voice to succeed in his destiny.

My wife was surrounded by music at a young age. Her mother had a couple boyfriends who played guitar and she remembers everyone singing, dancing, laughing, riding on motorcycles and putting bandanas on cats.  As I’ve heard her recall wisfully, her own mother sang and played tamborine in a “music group band.” I don’t know what a “music group band” is, but those are the words she insisted I use — apparently, it’s imperative that I’m both overly specific and impossibly vague when describing her mother’s musical history. In college, Lindsay even sang a little backup for her boyfriend’s band at a party inside a garage (or maybe it was one time at a party and then another time in a garage). Whatever the story, my wife never had the tone or pitch needed to really break through and “wow the judges.”

I have a pretty good voice, according to everyone who’s ever had the privilege of listening to my silky rendition of “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” by Nat King Cole. But, like my wife, there’s nothing unique about my tone. I can hit the notes and do some mimicking, but I have no style.

So it appears that young  Silas’ fate is left to whether his parent’s lackluster musical genes mixed in some magical manner to create the next Neil Sedaka. We can either fret about that unlikelihood, or simply wait a few weeks until he changes his mind and decides he wants to be a marine biologist.

I'm a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, Psychology Today and some others. My book, "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists" is available here Look for two more books in 2015: "Must. Push. Buttons (Bloomsbury Kids), and an as-of-yet untitled memoir I’ve appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and “Nick Mom’s Night Out." I live in New Jersey with my wife and two sons and enjoy making them laugh more than anyone else.

21 comments On College is Optional, Kid

  • Lauren Kapitan

    Awwwe my sons name is Silas. It is so popular. Not s surprise because it is a beautiful and strong name. :)

  • Vanessa Poholek Fasanella

    Good for you! It’s the plan that’s the thing, then the education. And education can be tech HS, apprenticeship, or learning on the job. You never know.

  • Carlee Hensley

    LOL! I’m sure his tune will change dramatically between now and high school. ( Pun totally intended) Also, many people go to college for musical degrees. So even if he chooses to be a singer…there is still a place for him in the graduation line…should he choose to stand. :D

  • Lisa Benter Rich

    My ten year old son is going to play for the New York Yankees. At best a mediocre baseball player, but if saying it often enough can make it true, he will be in pinstripes (Yankees style, not Wall Street and/or prison style) in the future.

  • Michelle Brooks Brinson

    I have a son named Silas. My daughter’s name is Singer. No joke.

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