The College Marathon

I’m on the last leg of the college marathon with my youngest daughter. Let me tell you this college search business isn’t easy, especially if your child has ADHD like my daughter. Don’t get me wrong. She’s a good student who works her butt off. She takes AP’s and has always pushed herself, but when it comes to standardized tests, well, let’s say, it isn’t her strength. She’s taken so many prep tests, we’ve both lost count. She hates them, but she plugs on, trying to lift her scores. And we plug on from school to school. We are treated to an array of bright and intelligent kids doing amazing things. All of them were stars in high school who have gone on to be stars in college. My daughter is shy, except when she’s on stage. She loves theater; it is her passion and her life.

The U.S. News and World Report Rankings have done a great disservice to kids because schools game the system these days in many different ways. They all want only the top ten percent students with the highest test scores. We’d all like to be those highest achievers, but it isn’t possible. We’d all like to believe our kids are in that top percentage, but they aren’t. That doesn’t mean they don’t have something valuable to contribute, but more and more, schools who used to nurture those kinds of kids are pushing for the top achievers to inflate their rankings. Who’re getting cheated? The kids these colleges supposed to serve, and at a cost that is obscene.

At our last event my daughter leaned over to me after a student presentation and said, “Don’t these schools have any normal kids who found their voices once they enrolled? Isn’t that the point?”

Wise words from a seventeen year old.

Women Helping Women

This past week, I sat watch over my twenty-three-year-old daughter who underwent surgery to remove her left ovary. A dermoid tumor had consumed the ovary, and a cyst had formed on her right ovary as well. A dermoid tumor is a strange thing, consisting of different cells including hair, bone, and teeth. In rare cases these things grow eyes, feet and ears. In my daughter’s case, the tumor was 10 centimeters, consisting mostly of hair and skin and oil. It is probably benign; we’ll know in a week.

It is a difficult thing for a mother, or any parent, to sit in a surgical waiting room waiting to hear that your child has been taken into the operating room; waiting to hear that surgery has begun; waiting to hear that surgery has been concluded successfully; waiting to hear that your child is ready to be transferred to her room. Worse, than the waiting, was the three-hour struggle to find the correct pain dosage to manage my daughter’s post surgical suffering. It was the first time in twenty-one years, she called me “Mommy.” My daughter sobbed, and she doesn’t cry easily. In college she played rugby; she works in the scrap metal business and likes ordering the guys around. She may be a petite five foot two inches, but she’s tough. My daughter was also lucky. The next morning, she was up and moving; the pain was more a nuisance than an agony. Her right ovary was spared. She spent three nights in the hospital and was well attended by caring and hard working nurses, techs and doctors. She will have to remain on the pill for the rest of her life because it inhibits the recurrence of dermoid tumors and cysts, but otherwise she’ll be fine. Thanks to her quick diagnosis and treatment, she didn’t lose both ovaries. She could even have a child.
There are other women in this country who aren’t so lucky. These women are the working poor who don’t have insurance or don’t have the means to afford the care of regular gynecologist. They might be working two or three minimum wage jobs to keep their families together. They might be part of that 47 percent Mitt Romney dismissed in his May comments, but make no mistake, they are out there. For them, one of the few life lines they have is Planned Parenthood, which provides gynecological screenings and care, and Republicans want to shut down all federal funding to that organization. If you think this election doesn’t have anything to do with women’s rights, take a close look at the Republican Platform. Look at what’s happening in states where Republicans dominate the legislature. The election is not just about the economy; women have been the target of the far right for years. We’ve heard the idiocies of Rush Limbaugh and Todd Akin and seen the extreme measures taken against women’s privacy in Virginia and Texas. We can’t sit and wait for things to get better; we have to stand up and make our voices heard.

In newscast after newscast I keep hearing that the reason the election is close is because Obama supporters aren’t as enthusiastic as Romney voters. Well, we know the far right fired up, ready to trample on the our rights and those of our daughters. Isn’t that reason enough to vote?