Now I know why parents’ hair goes grey

Rick MacLean
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I don’t remember it being like this.

Beautiful Daughter is slugging it out somewhere north of north in Saskatchewan. She’s teaching elementary school in a community of about 150 while raising a husky that showed up one day with a deer’s leg in its jaws. Just the leg.

BD drives a poor little car that can’t believe there can be so much mud on one road at one time. Never mind the ditch it tried to call home at least once.

Soon her school year will end and she’ll have to figure out what’s next. Boyfriend is doing a degree in computer science. I’m guessing another year halfway across the country is not in the works for BD.

Meanwhile, Handsome Son is writing an honours thesis in physics to complete his undergraduate degree. The thesis has something to do with things we cannot see. They were blasted by stuff we cannot see. He measured what flew off.

More stuff we cannot see.

Next? Graduate school. The leading candidates are in Nova Scotia and…Saskatchewan. When did our lives start revolving around Saskatchewan? Isn’t it the place you drive through on your way to somewhere that matters?

And his girlfriend? More school too. Where? Got me.

When I was 20-something things were straightforward.

There was medical school.

True. I didn’t go to medical school. I meant to go to medical school. Took differential calculus and analytical chemistry because all the other guys wanting to get into medical school were taking them.

Then I realized that was not going to work and did a history degree. Well, sorta. I postponed graduation by five months to write an honours thesis. Then I went back to take more courses because I didn’t know what I wanted to do.

I had enrolled in an education program, but didn’t go. I “just wasn’t feeling it.”

But the rest of my 20-something years were smooth sailing. Sorta.

I went to graduate school at Carleton University in Ottawa to study international affairs. True, I hadn’t taken any courses in that exact area before, but I had a full scholarship and it sounded cool.

Wonder how that would have worked out, if I’d stayed.

I lasted about two months. I just wasn’t feeling it. Everyone else seemed so smart and knew what they were talking about, while I felt I was from another planet.

Journalism then.


I lied about being able to type, tracked down the owner of a twice-weekly newspaper — I left messages at every bar in town — and landed a reporter’s job after an interview. I taught myself how to type on the weekend.

Career path set.

Almost. I’d written the entrance exam for Canada’s foreign service – the diplomatic corps – and passed. So when they said come for an interview, I figured what the heck and went.

The interview went surprisingly well, considering I spent the night before drinking with my friends until the bars in Halifax closed. Hey, something worked. I got hired anyway.

Finally, a job in an embassy. At the age of 23. Set for life. All that 20-something angst over.

Until I quit the job. I just wasn’t feeling it. Back to the newspaper as a reporter. Then off to graduate school to get a masters in this journalism stuff. Then back to the paper to take over as editor.

“I’ll stay a year,” I told the owner. I stayed 17. Then I became a teacher. Just like I’d planned.

So why can’t kids today get their act together, like we did? Oh. Maybe they are. Now I know why my parents’ hair went grey.

Rick MacLean is an instructor in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown.

Organizations: Holland College, Carleton University

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Ottawa Canada Halifax Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • Life happens
    December 16, 2012 - 12:43

    I think it is called LIFE.

  • Kids Today, ... Us Yesterday ...
    December 16, 2012 - 00:42

    Thoroughly enjoyed - and totally related - to Kevin's article. Thanks. PS - My hair's gray too!