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.