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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, November 17, 2002

College helps kids appreciate parents' nagging

By Ka'ohua Lucas

This is the time of year when high-school seniors are beginning to fill out their college applications.

The early ones already have decided which school will receive their parents' hard-earned income.

A year ago, my daughter was into her second month of college. She had rejected my urging to pack the few warm clothes she owned.

"Yeah, OK, Mom," she had said, trying to shrug me off. "I KNOW what I need to keep warm."

I felt like taking an Aleve and calling it quits, realizing she would be living in an area that receives steady rainfall and little sunshine. This island girl was going to freeze her 'okole off! But she insisted that she was well prepared to fend off the cool, wet, blustery weather of Washington state.

So off she went.

Less than two months into her first year, she called.

"Mom," she said meekly. "Do you think you could send me my long sweats and whatever sweaters you find?"

"Gee," I said. "Guess those spaghetti-strap and halter tops you took aren't quite keeping the bod warm, huh?"

"Oh, Mom," she said. "It's SO cold here. I have my room thermostat turned up to 80 degrees, and my roommates think I'm nuts."

I remember when I was growing up, my Hawaiian grandmother lived with our 'ohana. She often was the disciplinarian, scolding us when we did not mind her.

"Po'o pa'akiki (stubborn)," she would say. Or "Po'opa'a," and she would waggle her finger at me.

I later learned that po'opa'a is a fish that is easy to catch.

There is an 'olelo no'eau (proverb)to that effect, often used to describe a hard-headed person.

That last year of high school was tough for my daughter. She was ready to take the college plunge —away from home. We butted heads all the time, especially her last year in high school.

I was constantly bugging her about something.

Did you fill out your college applications?

Did you follow up with those who are supposed to write you recommendation letters?

Do you have everything you need for the financial aid form?

What about warm clothes?

Do you know who your roommates will be?

No wonder she was anxious to break free.

For those parents experiencing similar college woes, I can guarantee you this: Although you think your children do not appreciate what you have done for them, they will.

Wait until they are away, living in a dorm or apartment on their own. Within those first few months of independent bliss, reality sets in.

Gone is the self-centered, stubborn young adult. Instead of wrinkling her nose and raising her eyebrows every time you offer an opinion, she will embrace it.

And with your college-bound child another set of problems will emerge.

"So, what, Mom? Do you think I should go out with him?"

I think I'll take a couple of Aleves and call you in the morning.