MAN OF THE HOUSE

When the college admission essay becomes a family affair

The frenzied application process can drive even the most laid-back parent into hyper-overinvolvement mode. But there's a lesson lurking: morality versus admission by any means.

With tickets just impossible to get, I propose to the family that we hold our own inaugural ball.

"You mean a dance?" Posh says.

"I never said that."

"What about dinner?" she asks.

"Tonight?" I say.

"I mean at the ball," she says.

"We're having a ball?"

Yes, we're having a ball . . . a blast . . . a rollicking good time. The other night, I get home from work to find the little girl and her mother screaming at each other over another college application deadline. Me, I like yelling. It's one of the primary reasons I got into the newspaper business.

"Mom, just leave me alone, huh!" screams the little girl. "Just leave me alone!"

In her defense, the little girl works harder than I do. She wakes up early, attends meetings before school, after school and during school. She also captains the tennis team and serves as business manager for the yearbook. What a slacker. If she were a little older, she'd run for governor.

Kids today honestly amaze me. Somehow, in her busy day, my daughter also finds time to send about 1,000 text messages, most of which go to her sassy little friends and consist of exchanges such as:

"Wud up?"

"Hangin'. 'Sup with U?"

"Hangin'."

On this particular day, she text messaged me during class:

" 'Sup, Dad?"

"Hangin'," I answered, though it takes me a bit longer to send an actual text message than it does for her. In this case, "hangin' " took me about 20 minutes to tap out on my phone.

Anyway, she goes on to ask me if I can give her a hand with her college essay that evening, which is a Friday. I used to reserve Fridays for "date night," during which Posh and I would sit in front of the TV sharing a $4 bottle of Ripple till I passed out around 8:30. Such is romance in America these days.

So, I agree to help the little girl with her college application, or at least to double-check the punctuation.

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