With both girls a few sniffs away from going to college (okay, one for Sam; two for Alex), the issue of transportation has inevitably been discussed for the nth time. Will Daddy bring them to school and pick them up after classes? Will they have to commute? Or will they have their own car(s)?
The truth is, Speedy and I have discussed this issue long before the girls started asking questions.
The truth is, years after the matter first came up in our discussions, we still do not have an answer. We do not want them to be so pampered that Speedy and I will have to play driver and yaya when they go off to college. But, given the reality of commuting — the longer traveling time, the tiring routine of changing buses/jeepneys/train, the danger of getting stranded when it rains hard and traveling by tricycle from town to the subdivision along steep and dark roads — we’re not sure if there’s really a valuable lesson to be learned there, a “lesson” that many parents claim is part of learning how to be independent.
The third choice, giving them a car, a serious thought two or three years ago, does not sound too realistic these days because although the price of gasoline recently dipped, we are very well aware that it is a pacifier and the monopoly on fuel by multinational oil companies means that, faster than one can wink, the prices can go ten times higher than the amount of the reduction and there doesn’t have to be a rise in global oil prices to justify it. The oil companies can raise or lower prices at whim.
Speedy likes to point out that he didn’t have a car when he was in college and he survived commuting. Well, I commuted too for half my college years but, by the time I was in the College of Law and had classes until 9.00 p.m., I didn’t stop whining until my father gave me a car. The point is, the commuting scenario in the 1980s was very much different from what we have today. In the 1980s, I could make it from Caloocan to Diliman (jeepney-jeepney-bus-jeepney) in an hour. Even at 7.00 a.m., already part of the morning rush hour, I could manage to find a seat in the bus.
But that’s not the case today, is it? Even with mass transports like the Metro trains, commuting has become a penitence. I see the jampacked Metro trains with the passengers squished inside like sardines and I just can’t see where the lesson in independence comes in. That was how a fourth option was born — dorm — an option that, when articulated, makes Speedy recoil in horror as though he is being physically tortured. He asked me once, bluntly, if I could bear the separation and I told him, hardening up my insides, that yes I could because what’s best for the girls has to come ahead of how I feel.
Honestly, living away from home just might be their best chance to learn independence. Sure, it’ll hurt like crazy. I’ll miss them terribly and I’ll probably stare numbly at their empty bedrooms and run my fingers over their unused beds day in and day out. But I will still be able to console myself with the thought that a dorm is the safer and more rational choice.
Of course, the real and final decision won’t have to be made until months from now. In Alex’s case, it won’t be for another year and a half. But some things we need a lot of time to think about.