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别再问我家孩子的大学计划了

更新时间:2018-3-28 20:14:41 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Stop Asking About My Kid’s College Plans
别再问我家孩子的大学计划了

The first time I drive with my daughter, she makes a left turn without putting on her blinker. She says: “Want to know a funny thing about me? I never signal.”

我第一次坐女儿开的车时,她没打转向灯就左转弯了。她说:“给你说点好玩的事儿吧?我从来不打转向灯。”

I say: “That’s not a funny thing. You have to signal.”

我说:“这不是什么好玩的事儿。你必须打转向灯。”

My daughter shrugs — an adolescent Morse code meaning: Whatever/You don’t get it /Julia’s mom lets her do it. She’s relaxed as we tool around town, picking up a carton of milk here, a sibling there.

我女儿耸了耸肩——这是青少年的一个莫尔斯代码,意思是:随便你啦/你不明白/朱莉娅的妈妈就允许她这么干。我们开着车在镇上四处游荡时,她很放松,我们去这儿买盒牛奶,去那儿接个姊妹。

From then on, for the rest of the summer, she drives us everywhere. According to suburban legend, teenagers are supposed to spill their secrets when you’re in the car together. This doesn’t happen with mine — it’s just a lot of questions about what we’re having for dinner. But one day, cruising down a quiet street, my daughter says, “I love driving.”

那个夏天接下来的时间里,我们上哪都是她开车。有个郊区传说讲的是人在车里时,青少年会吐露自己的秘密。我和女儿的情况不是这样——我们讨论的全是晚餐吃什么。不过有一天,她开车经过一条安静的街道时对我说:“我很喜欢开车。”

This is better than a secret. I can still feel my first license in my hand — the heat of it, the freedom. I can’t wait for her to feel that, too.

这比对我吐露秘密还要好。我还记得自己刚拿到驾照时的感觉——它的热量,自由。我迫不及待地希望她也能拥有这种感觉。

Junior year starts, and with it comes a cityscape of fat textbooks on the dining room table. Now every time I hand over the keys, my daughter says: “Can you drive? This is a very stressful time in my life.” Soon there are leaf piles by the driveway, and she says they make her too nervous to pull into the street. She won’t drive on Halloween because of the trick-or-treaters. And then it snows.

她开始上高三,随之而来的是餐桌上厚厚的一摞课本。现在,每次我把车钥匙递给女儿,她都会说:“你开吧?这段时间我压力太大。”很快,车道上堆满了树叶,她说那让她很紧张,不敢开到街上。万圣节她也不能开车,因为那些“不给糖就捣蛋”的孩子。然后就下雪了。

Want to know a funny thing? This is a very stressful time in my life, too. I sit next to a colleague whose mother is my age. My jeans are snug. My eyebrows are balding. And I have a child who’s a junior in high school, which means that everywhere I go, people want to talk about one thing: college.

给你说点好玩的事吧?这段时间,我也很有压力。坐在我旁边的同事,妈妈跟我一个年纪。我的牛仔裤太紧了。我的眉毛更稀了。我的孩子上高三了,这意味着,无论我走到哪儿,人们都想谈论一件事:大学。

“Have you started looking at schools? How many A.P. courses is she taking? Does she excel in a sport? Is she a leader? A volunteer? The valedictorian?”

“你们开始选学校了吗?她选了多少个预修课程?她擅长体育吗?她是领导者吗?是志愿者吗?是优秀毕业生吗?”

Depending upon my answers, the conversation splits, Choose Your Own Adventure-style, in one of two directions. If I demur, I land in the chapter about how sad it is that our kids are so overstressed. If I play along, we arrive at, “Have you guys made your list yet?”

我的回答会把谈话引向两个方向之一,就像是“惊险岔路口”(Choose Your Own Adventure)。如果我提出异议,我们就开始感叹,现在的孩子压力太大,真是可怜。如果我随声附和,我们就会谈到:“你们列好名单了吗?”

I hate this question. “We” aren’t going through the “college process”; my daughter is.

我讨厌这个问题。要“选大学”的不是“我们”,而是我女儿。

One night my husband and I have dinner with friends who just got back from Japan. As we’re falling asleep, my husband says, “What does it say about me that I’d rather talk about Hiroshima than college?”

一天晚上,我和丈夫与刚从日本回来的一些朋友共进晚餐。我们入睡时,丈夫说,“我宁愿谈论广岛也不想谈论大学——我这是怎么了?”

I love my town, which we chose for its good schools and down-to-earth families. This is not a suburb where people care about your car or your lawn. But people do care where your kid is going to college. I care too, but I also want to make sure my daughter can take care of herself when she gets there. Does she know how to fry an egg? Manage money? Speak up in a crowded room? I may not be able to help with trigonometry, but I can show her these things. I can teach her how to drive.

我热爱这座城市,我们选择它,是因为它有着优秀的学校和质朴的家庭。这里不是那种别人会关心你的车子或者草坪的郊区,但人们会在意你的孩子去哪上大学。我也在意,但我也想确保我的女儿去了大学能够照顾好自己。她会炒鸡蛋吗?会理财吗?会在坐满了人的房间里发言吗?我可能帮不上她学三角函数,但我可以告诉她这些东西。我可以教她如何开车。

After a two-month hiatus, I lose my cool with my daughter one night on the way to swim practice. Buckling my seatbelt, I hiss: “Next time you’re driving. I’m sick of being your chauffeur.”

间隔了两个月后的一天晚上,我在送她去游泳训练的路上终于沉不住气了。我一边系安全带,一边怒气冲冲地说道:“下次你来开。老是当你的司机我受够了。”

She shrugs: Fine/I’m tired/Julia’s mom never yells.

她耸了耸肩:行吧/我很累/茱莉亚的妈妈就不会大声嚷嚷。

“You know, in the long run, it doesn’t matter how you do on the SAT,” I say. “It matters whether you know how to parallel park. Driving is a life skill. You need to practice.”

“其实,从长远来看,你的SAT考得怎么样并不重要,”我说。“重要的是你会不会侧方停车。驾驶是生活技能。你得练习。”

She leans back and closes her eyes, looking the way she did as a baby dozing in my arms. Somehow in the heat of the moment, I forgot how she was hunched over “The Grapes of Wrath” when I went to bed at midnight; that she’s about to swim three miles and her hair will freeze afterward.

她往后靠去,闭上了眼睛,就像她还是婴儿时在我的臂弯里打瞌睡一样。不知怎么,刚刚一时激动,我忘了当我半夜上床睡觉时她还趴在那本《愤怒的葡萄》上,忘了她还要游上三英里,游完了头发都会被冻住。

From the locker room, she texts: “I’m doing my best. You know that, right? I’m under an insane amount of pressure.”

她从更衣室里发来短信:“我在拼尽全力了。你是知道的吧?我压力大得都要疯了。”

I almost type, I am too — but then I realize, my stress is not her problem, just as her SAT isn’t mine. Instead I send a row of hearts.

我差点就回了一句,我也是——但我接着便意识到,我的压力并不是她的问题,正如她的SAT考试不是我的问题一样。于是,我发了一行爱心。

The next time I’m with someone who wants to talk about liberal arts versus Big Ten, I say: “Wait, hold on. How’s the driving going?”

后来再有人想和我讨论是选博雅还是“十大”时,我说:“停,等等。车学得怎样?”

My friend bursts out laughing: “It’s a total nightmare! She doesn’t stop for pedestrians!”

我的朋友不禁大笑起来:“简直就是噩梦!她不会停车让行人!”

Both conversations — college and driving — are stand-ins for the real subject that’s keeping us up at night: Our kids are leaving home in a year. No more books all over the table, no more late-night cups of tea. I don’t want to spend our remaining time obsessing about where my daughter is going to college. Except for the tuition (deep breath), the destination is beyond my control.

这两个对话——大学和学车——都只是一个让我们夜里无法入睡的现实问题的替身:我们的孩子一年后就要离家了。桌面上不会再堆满书本,不再需要深夜的一杯杯茶。我不想把余下的时间都用来执着于思考我的女儿会去哪里上大学。除了学费(深呼吸),目的地并不是我能掌控的。

My daughter’s driving test is four weeks away. We — I mean she — hasn’t mastered parallel parking, but she has navigated New Jersey’s highways with aplomb befitting her middle name (Grace, like that of half the girls her age). When we arrive at a four-way stop, she waits for three cars to go in clockwise order. Then she slowly presses her foot on the gas. She says, “My turn,” and I know it is, and the knowing keeps me from barking at her to go faster.

距离女儿的驾驶考试只有四周的时间了。我们——我是说,她——还没有掌握侧方停车,但她已经能在新泽西的公路上泰然自若的行驶了,真适合她的中间名(Grace[优雅],她这个年纪大半的女孩都叫这个)。当我们来到一个四向停车路口时,她等了三辆车按顺时针顺序开过。然后,她慢慢地踩下了油门。她说,“轮到我了,”我知道。也正是因为我知道,我才没向她大吼开快点。

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