Competing Hopes of Parents and Kids

As my oldest daughter, a high school senior, buckles down on her college applications this fall, I like to think we’re in sync as we consider the four-year journey she’ll take starting next year. We’re assessing the schools we visit using the same scorecard, we’re formulating identical hopes and dreams for every aspect of her college experience, we’re making the most of this final year together to become even more like-minded.

Then I remember: we are still the same two people we’ve always been. Unless someone waved a magic wand over us last night after we’d each gone to bed, me after binge-watching Narcos and her after binge-watching ballet videos, we are not some magically conjured idealized Mother Daughter Duo with matching sweaters, hobbies, and life philosophies. If the past four years of parenting an adolescent have taught me anything, it’s that parents and kids tend to have a fundamentally different way of looking at the world. Herewith, my best guess at what’s will actually be on my mind, and hers, when she starts her freshman year next fall.

Freshman Edition


Nancy Davis KhoNancy Davis Kho is a writer in Oakland whose work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Toast, The Rumpus, and numerous humor anthologies. In 2014, she was selected by BlogHer as a “Voice of the Year” in the Humor Category, and was the inaugural champion of Oakland’s Literary Death Match. She teaches in the Professional Writing program at UC Berkeley Extension, and writes about the years between being hip and breaking one at


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