Life is good

Yesterday was a really good day and it epitomizes how I’ve been feeling lately about everything.

First, we finally got the checks from the settlement of the lawsuit related to my son’s accident five years ago. With our share of it, my husband and I are paying off my car and putting some money in savings for emergencies.

My youngest got enough money to buy a used car, as compensation for pain and suffering related to witnessing the accident. We would not have been able to afford to buy cars for the kids otherwise. He’ll probably be able to drive himself to school for most of next year, which will help a lot.

And my middle son got enough to buy a car and he’s investing all the rest in certificates of deposit and money market accounts. Hell, the one aspect in which I don’t feel like a “real grownup” is that I don’t even have any of those kinds of investments of my own yet. It was all his idea. He said he’s viewing it like that’s money he doesn’t even have available to spend.

When you hand a very large check to an 18-year-old just out of high school and he wants to invest most of it, and he’s going to get a used car even though he could buy a brand-new one, it makes me feel like he has a good head on his shoulders. I did something right in trying to raise him not to be materialistic.

I also had a great conversation with my youngest about his career goals and college plans. He’s being heavily recruited by this awesome private university in the Minneapolis area (a reputedly very cool town but just too cold for me) and their marketing mail is good enough that he didn’t ignore it like he has with most of his college mail. He gets a lot because his PSAT scores were really good.

He’ll have to really put effort into the test prep courses he’s taking this summer and work to bring his grades up in school next year. He’s in the top 25% of his class with a 3.8 GPA but if he’s in the top 10%, his odds of admission to the schools he wants to attend go up. So he’s taking more AP classes next year because those are weighted more heavily in GPA and class rank.

He also said he’s considering changing his planned major from engineering to environmental science because in his words, “I want a job that makes the world a better place.” He just wants to make sure that major will have jobs.

So in the course of one day, I found out that my kids know how to be responsible with large amounts of money. I would not likely have done the same at their ages. My middle son has more money than our household income in many years.

And I also found out that my college-bound kid is aiming higher than I thought. Before, he was just looking at state schools for engineering because he was motivated by high earnings.

Now, he’s considering going to a more liberal college in a more liberal state for a job in a field that will try to make the world better. I truly couldn’t be prouder.

I think he’s now realizing that his potential opens up a lot of opportunities that he wasn’t considering before. The thought of him going to a liberal, competitive university out of state in a cool city makes me feel so excited. It occurred to me that if he does that, I’ll have to fly him home on breaks and I’d probably have to go up to help him move in. And that excites me greatly and appeals to my own desire to travel.

He came from two parents who got degrees from very non-competitive colleges. My husband and I graduated college, whereas none of our parents did. And now I hope he believes in himself and that he thinks achieving more than we have is attainable.

He also wants to get a PhD someday and that is still my own goal for myself, too. His ambition is inspiring and I want to do everything I can to help him along the way.

I may not have been a natural at dealing with my kids when they were little. But somehow I feel like they’re all turning out okay anyway. They have amazing values and know how to be responsible. That makes me feel like maybe I did some things pretty right.

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