Graduates have inability to focus on big picture

March 27, 2012

From all that I’ve read and from my own personal experience, I’d say this year’s college graduates may have trouble seeing the forest through the trees. Basically, no one knows what that means, which may be where the trouble starts.

It’s never too early to think about those graduations looming in the coming months and the possibility that you could have someone back on your doorstep looking for their old room, which you as a responsible parent have turned into a bed and breakfast for elderly people who can’t find a hostel.

I know you’ve said goodbye to listening to Ten Thousand Maniacs and heavy metal bands rocking the house until you felt like you were on the Andrea Doria headed for the bottom of the ocean. It’s why you put guard rails up in the kitchen in the first place. And it’s been a long time since you’ve smelled the pet store aroma of duffel bags stuffed into a closet for months, duffel bags that hold the tattered remnants of what were sopping wet underwear, gym socks and Bob Cousy sneakers from the early '50s.

And you thought you’d never have to wake up in the morning, look out the window and see your car parked in the front flowerbed of hydrangeas. It’s easier than checking the bedrooms to see if anyone came home last night. You couldn’t keep your eyes open past 3 a.m. anyway. Still it’s comforting to know they eventually came home and the gas tank is empty.

Of course, the answer to repeating these memories is to start now looking for the perfect apartment that will ease the transition from dorm room to basically a dorm room off campus. In fact, you are almost a little too late. Myself, I know with my own children, I began the search as soon as they graduated, not from college, but kindergarten.

Now, the problem you are going to run into is having a child who has gotten an education, an education for which you paid four years of hard-earned money, not to mention mortgaged yourself into the next century, and that child/adult is missing the very basics to get along in life. It’s called an inability to focus on the big picture.

I remember visiting my son in his first apartment. Sitting in the center of the room was a table with three legs. It was obvious that one leg was missing.

“Where did you get this table?” I asked stupidly.

“Isn’t it great,” he answered, beaming proudly. “I found it in an alley.”

“But it’s missing a leg.”

“I know, but look at the wood. It’s really smooth.”

You see, this is the forest through the trees concept kicking in. Apparently the texture of wood found in an alley is one of those intellectual concepts that come with a liberal arts education. You might say you earned the same concept when you took on the job of selling firewood on weekends. I know that purchasing furniture is a lot of pressure for someone graduating from college. They don’t have a lot of experience in this area, at least judging by the beer-soaked couch that’s been sitting out in the rain in front of their dorm room for the last four years.

Kids grow up with one impression about the furnishings in their home. Basically that is, “My parents have such bad taste, it makes you wonder how much acid they dropped in the '60s.”

Finding that graduate on your doorstep looking for a place to stay while he or she finds a job is not quite as bad as the shower scene in “Psycho,” but it’s close.

So you should start the hunt now, or you are going to be looking at a forest through the trees, which is where you most likely will have to hide out.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

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