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The Road to Kalamazoo for Daughter #2

Daughter #2, the youngest at age 30 and previously most settled by virtue of how long it took her to get accepted to medical school, will start her potentially more winding road than her sister’s upon completion of her program in 2023.  While #1 was Mini-Me during her youth, #2 was The Devil Child and sometimes also The Velcro Child during the same period of her development. 

From the time of her birth at 2:13 AM her personality and behaviors were hard for me to deal with.  The child refused to fall asleep at night and didn’t even nap in the swing or the car like most other babies.  I distinctly remember the vacation from hell when we left the hotel at 2:30 AM because when she saw me in the same room she thought it was party time!  On another trip she finally fell asleep in the car five minutes before we reached our destination but at least there were other people in the car to keep her entertained. On the one occasion where she fell asleep in the swing we had to take a picture as proof that it had really happened!  Velcro incident, though probably not unique to us, was when she clung to me when I tried to leave her at school and later when I tried to leave her at home with a nanny so I could go to work.

I guess it was fortunate for all of us that when we moved across country it was to a lower cost state so I could afford to stay home and continue to entertain her there while being even more at her beck and call.  This included ferrying her to her favorite fast-food drive-thru restaurants, my mandatory presence watching her favorite reality TV shows and advising her daily on what to do with nearly every minute of her free time, including what to eat during her study breaks!  The ties finally began to loosen when she learned to drive.  I found an hourly part time job just to get out of the house and away from the Devil/Velcro Child.  Our relationship finally and mercifully and surprisingly improved during her college application process. We took short trips to check out schools.  She requested only minimal advice from me on her essays.

The Velcro bonds loosened a bit when she went back across country for college. I helped furnish her dorm room to her exquisitely limited though broadly vague specifications.  The main exercise of her long-distance diabolical cling remained in our circular discussions around a new set of decisions she wanted me to help her make. By the time she graduated I think she really knew what she was going to do most of the time but maybe Satan just wanted to show that he hadn’t released control of our relationship quite yet!

The official last straw came when in her devilish indecisiveness she tried to talk us into letting her stay in college a year longer than necessary because she couldn’t decide which subject she wanted to get her degree in and then tried to blame me for telling her to start with an undeclared major!  As it was, she got an additional semester and degrees in two subjects.  That’s how long she kept me confused!

Devil Child’s degrees in Psychology and Neuroscience basically were preparatory for med school, at least in her mind.  We told both our kids a couple of things re their educations: (1) We would only pay for Bachelor’s degrees and for anything beyond that they were on their own and (2) they should get a job when they completed those degrees before deciding if they wanted or needed additional schooling to continue in what they thought would be their chosen professions.  The latter advice grew out of our painful and unhappy experiences after finding ourselves stuck in the jobs we’d trained for but didn’t really like doing!

So, wishing I could fast forward from college graduation to medical school acceptance, here’s the way it slowly went down.  After finding herself for a very short time in a job where she wasn’t happy, #2 made a lot of progress towards deciding she might really want to be a doctor.  She worked for a dermatologist to many stars she couldn’t tell me about in an office on Rodeo Drive, studied a lot for the MCAT, made some new friends and submitted her first applications for med school.  The result of that last effort was a series of painful rejections but, bless her heart, she didn’t give up and went back to work (for a different dermatologist who treated some of her grandma’s – my mom’s – friends), made some better friends, got her first boyfriend and some coaching to improve her interview performance. 

She also decided that she didn’t really have to go to a top tier medical school, which is probably why the second round of applications was moderately more successful than the first.  She had more interviews but only one acceptance:  The Homer Stryker School of Medicine of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo!