By Maridol Rañoa-Bismark

“What do you like more? High school or college?” I ask my son, who’s on his third year at the university.

“College,” he replies, without missing a beat.

In college, he tells me, you get to meet more people from all walks of life. You also have more freedom, the freedom to choose your teachers, your schedule, and your extra-curricular activities.

If high school is the time to form cliques, then college is the time to widen one’s social circle, and to create as many of those circles as one can. No longer bound  to one section, your teenager can hop from one college to another like a butterfly flitting from one flower to the next. He may make friends with schoolmates who are so unlike him, or who come from a province or a country that he has never been to.

I myself am fascinated at the big university my son goes to.  When I enter the building, the guard greets me “Good morning,” thinking that I’m a professor. Since my age and eyeglasses allow me to assume another identity, I get to enter different school buildings and walk through an ongoing exhibit or diorama. Why, I even get to know about job openings for students. They’re posted all over the bulletin board!

Another big bonus: finding out what events my son has signed up for the month, at least we have something to talk about at the end of the day.

I pepper him with questions: Did you find the career talk useful? Are you joining the college fair? Did you meet anybody interesting in the outreach program?

It’s a great way to bond with somebody who’s turning out to be harder and harder to catch up with.

School activities are generally safe subjects to discuss; he won’t recoil when I ask about them. Sometimes, when I’m feeling lucky, I segue to more delicate matters like grades, teachers, and girls. I step on the brakes when he suddenly turns quiet or starts answering my questions with a standard, “It’s okay.”

It’s his way of saying, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

I’ll just try another day. He’ll ask for my opinion when he needs it.

For now, I enjoy the sights and sounds of the university. I walk around the campus that it is my child’s second home and try to see it through his eyes. And here’s what I saw: all these young happy people, eager to learn, eager to grow, and excited about all their tomorrows. I am instantly filled with joy and say to myself, “Wish I were in college too!”

Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash