By Dustin Turner • Illustration by Michael Rushbrook


Our daughter, Abigail, is going to college. There’s no doubt about that. In fact, we tell her often.

“Abigail, you’re going to college,” we say.

Oh, she’s not going in the fall. Or for several more falls. Abigail is only 12 and still has to suffer the awkwardness of middle school and emotional roller coaster called high school. She has a lot of growing up to do. And we, her parents, have a lot of plans to put into motion.

You see, the transition from Mommy and Daddy’s little girl to college student doesn’t start her senior year. It started the minute she was born. We think about it every time we see a commercial for a university or read news about scary things happening on college campuses. We’ve thought about it since her birth, and we worry about it now.

Our biggest concern, of course, is her safety. We just watched a show on A&E Network’s History that featured a monstrous, armored, bullet-proof four-wheel-drive SUV with push-button smoke screen and all kinds of safety and defensive features.

My wife, Jamie, and I looked at each other and said in unison: “Abigail’s college car!”

So now we need to save for the six-figure price tag. We’re also certain that Kevlar body armor will be in high fashion in 2026.

Our daughter is athletic and fierce, smart and observant. She also can hit a tiny, moving clay target with a shotgun, so we know she will take care of herself, which alleviates some concern.

We worry, too, about paying for college. We’ve started saving money, of course, but college is expensive! As in buy-a-new-house-and-a-few-cars expensive. Surely, Abigail’s excellent grades will translate into scholarships. If not, perhaps by then there will be collegiate Fortnite leagues, in which case she surely will earn a full ride at her choice of Ivy League establishments.

All good parents want their children to succeed, and we certainly want her to do better than we ever did. Don’t get me wrong, we are extremely happy with our middle-class existence, but as her parents, we want her to go far. Make lots of money. Live in a big house. Drive any car she wants and wear any brand clothing she wants. Most important, though, take care of Mom and Dad. We need a retirement plan, after all.

In all seriousness, we just want her to be happy and to succeed at whatever she puts her mind to. Sometimes she wants to be a professional artist. Sometimes she wants to be a veterinarian. Or both. There was the time she thought it would be lucrative to work at Chick-fil-A.

“Why would you want to work in fast food as a career?” I asked.

“Chick-fil-A is always busy,” she said. “Those people must make A LOT of money!”

Those were some pretty astute observational and logical skills for a 5-year-old.

On a serious note, any teenager needs emotional maturity and a sense of responsibility before going to college. College is definitely for young adults, not children. As every new college student does, our daughter will face choices every day. Go to class or hang out with friends? Study for finals or go to the big party? Drink or stay sober? If she does drink, drive or order an Uber?

The correct answers, of course, are go to class, study, stay sober, get an Uber. As an adult with a college degree, however, I know that’s not always the reality. It’s enough to make my head spin and my heart palpitate. Even if she’s 18 and has been a huge success in high school, Jamie and I cannot – and will not – send a child off to college.

So, to make these years of transition as easy as possible on our sanity, we will do everything possible to teach her to make good decisions, to take care of herself and her friends, to be responsible (and accountable), to understand consequences and to always live her best life.

Still, though, we haven’t ruled out the armored SUV and designer Kevlar body armor.

This article appears in the September/October 2019 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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