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Cap and gown

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I just had lunch with my-son-the-college-graduate. That's how I refer to him now. His older sister graduated a few years ago, taking the normal amount of time, money, and emotional energy to do so. Now she has a nice job, a nice husband and they've settled down with 2.6 nice dogs. My son, however, took about six years to earn a degree, leaving me, while thrilled, emotionally and financially concussed.

I've raised my kids alone since they were babies with the help of family, friends, heaven, and a succession of therapists--not to mention an occasional shot of Captain Morgan. I'm not saying it's impossible to do. But if given a choice, next time I'd rather have my toenails pulled out by a rabid telemarketer.

When I divorced, I had all the wisdom of your average teenager: It would be a struggle, but I would cope, and it would be tragically dramatic, and maybe I'd be on Oprah. After "coping" for a few weeks, I was so exhausted, confused, and depressed, that I nearly gave my children away to a passing Jehovah's Witness. (I did invite him in and asked him to stay while I ran up and took my first shower in four days. Praise the Lord!)

My daughter went to college from high school, but being male, my son took a detour without directions. He quit high school three months before graduation, ran away, came home, and eventually moved to Wilmington. Taking pity on his mother, he finally got his high school diploma and enrolled at UNC-Wilmington. I went to church for a week after that, then came home and started applying for loans.

It was a long six years and for every change of mind and major, there was a new loan application. Finally--and I say this with all the sincerity of a woman clawing her way to that desert oasis--it was graduation.

He still doesn't know what he wants to do. At lunch on Franklin Street the other day, he told me he might like to go to law school. I immediately choked on my dill roll.

Really, I'm proud of him. It's just that the loan lady at the bank refuses to take my calls now. I'm over 40, so doctors won't pay for one of my kidneys. My blood is too thin and filled with hormones, Tums, and tranquilizers to sell that, either. And, I'm too old to streetwalk. Then again, maybe if I hung out on that corner near the Senior Center ...

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