As this post is hitting the interwebs, I am waking up in Boston. We are snuggled into a rather swanky AirBnB (found totally by luck) that overlooks the Charles River. Across the river sits Cambridge – home to that little school that is the reach-iest of all the reach schools. On Harvard’s campus sits Perkins Hall. This residence hall is among the oldest on campus (built in 1893) and is highlighted with brick corridors, iron staircases, and rooms with beautiful, aged wood accents. Like most of the buildings on campus, Perkins Hall could easily fit right into the most mystical of movie scenes.
Inside Perkins Hall? Our eldest child. Well, I suppose at posting time they are actually not inside Perkins Hall but across campus in a Greek Studies program and nestled into a chair that, I suspect, will not be missed when the program ends in a few weeks.
Yes. We have a child at Harvard.
Yes, it may only be for the summer but what an unexpected summer it has been. If I’m being perfectly honest, when initially got word that this child was being heavily encouraged to apply for this summer intensive in Greek Studies, I thought “Harvard? Harvard, North Carolina? Didn’t even know there was one.” Back then (which was February), the next words were I probably won’t get in but still … “
Turns out Harvard accepted the application with enthusiasm.
We are here after what I suspect was the longest train right ever (With delays, 15 hours … an adventure that sounded great when we booked it). It is a combo vacation/visit with friends we should have been vacationing with for years and we will likely be relegated to a HoHo for at least one day while said child works through today’s episode of Three Semesters of Greek in Under Two Months. We are all still pinching ourselves daily to prove, again, this is real life.
The level of parental pride? Only outweighed by the “Is this really happening?” feeling of it all.
If you followed our story, you already know where we were just two years ago.
If you have not, the summary is that this child – this lovely child – was such a suicide risk two years ago that we had to face our own inability to help her and have them hospitalized. It was devastating, terrifying … it was everything you don’t dream of as a parent. As the mental health crisis began dwindling, so did our expectations. Where we would once talk about colleges and careers, we now talked about part-time jobs and safe living situations. Hopes for prosperity were replaced with statements like “Oh gosh, I miss that beautiful hair” after it was shaved in response to a particularly bad day.
Today? Today we are waking up in a swanky AirBnB across the Charles River from one of the most prestigious schools in the world so that we might grab a glimpse of that same child (okay, yes, baby adult) as they walk a path that once seemed far out of reach.
Yes, as parents, we hope that our children excel beyond our own statuses in life. This child may have it too far.
Not really, of course. We couldn’t be more thrilled to witness these successes. On the flip side, goodness have I lost some of my conversational value. Rich and this child now talk for hours about Greek history with references that I long gave up hope of understanding. It long-awaited sequel to years of Latin chatter that has now covered a decade (both of our children fell in love with Latin as tweens). Truthfully, these classic languages come oddly easy for three out of four of our family unit.
I have learned to smile and nod while I wait for someone to mention something more familiar to me such as marketing or writing or even Spanish (my one and only alternative language thanks to years of Duolingo).
My value lies in convincing this child that, yes, they deserve all of this (and more!). As the hours of class or homework or tests zip by, this child is still waiting for someone to discover that they were invited in error. I tell them over and over that this is simply not true. As the adoration of professors (Harvard professors) increases, the temptation to admit the ease of it all rises.
It isn’t that the work isn’t difficult for this child. It is that they love the work more than anything they have ever done in their young life. It is that the content settles into their brain so much more quickly and clearly than it does for classmates. It is that, each day, another opportunity begins to peek around another corner as this whole new world continues to reveal itself.
It has been quite an unexpected ride and we still aren’t fully sure of its destination.
We often talk of life turning on a dime or about unexpected calamities that we are unable to peel our thoughts away from. The truth is, I suppose, that life can turn on a dime and point to something amazing just as easily. The truth is, we sometimes miss the wonder of those moments because they don’t stop us in our tracks as calamities often do.
Today, we are waking up in a rather swanky AirBnB committed to relishing every second of this moment.