Anxiety, restlessness come right on time for college-age daughter

I think our 20-year-old daughter is bored and wants to go back to school.

The reason I think that is because of something she said the other day.

“I’m bored,” Emma said. “I want to go back to school.”

As a veteran husband and parent, I’m trained to pick up on subtle hints.

It was Saturday afternoon. My wife, Emma and I were relaxing in our backyard. Now I thought that was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. But apparently, when you’re 20, relaxing in the backyard with your parents is pretty much the exact opposite of a great way to spend an afternoon.

Kids these days. What are you going to do?

On Saturday afternoon Emma told us that her life was “literally like ‘Groundhog Day.'”

Every day is the same, Emma said.

“I get up, go to work and I come home.”

“Welcome to life,” my wife said.

My wife doesn’t exactly sugarcoat things.

“Relax, Emma,” I said. “Life isn’t like that.”

“It isn’t?” Emma asked.

“Of course not,” I said. “Sometimes you have to work late.”

Emma is going to be a junior in college this year. That means — assuming she doesn’t take the final college path that I did — she’ll graduate in two years, something that Emma is not looking forward to.

“It literally freaks me out,” Emma said.

Emma isn’t exactly jumping at the chance to dive into the real world. Sure, she has plans for a career, plans that she hopes will take her … well, anywhere but our backyard.

My wife hates when Emma talks about wanting to start her career away from us. I’m just glad Emma is thinking about starting her career.

But even though Emma is looking forward to starting a career away from us, I’m not sure she’s anxious to start a career. Starting a career means being an adult — unless your career is making goofy things up to put in a newspaper.

I think that when Emma looks at my wife and me she worries that one day she’ll be like us. Again, that sort of thing bothers my wife, but it doesn’t bother me.

When I was Emma’s age, I worried that one day I would be like my parents. Of course, my parents grew up during the Depression and raised seven kids while my dad served in three wars, so when I was 20 they pretty much were just shells of their former selves.

But still.

Emma’s best friend, Katie, is interning this summer in Chicago. A few weeks ago, Emma visited Katie, and now she talks about getting an internship in Chicago next summer.

Emma and Katie, who will be a senior in college this year, think it would be great if Katie got a job in Chicago and then she and Emma could room together next summer during Emma’s internship. And then, well, maybe Emma would get a job in Chicago.

I remember those days. I remember planning things like living in Chicago. Or living on a houseboat in Florida like Travis McGee. Or drinking Guinness in a pub in Ireland.

When I was Emma’s age, my plans tended to be short on detail.

I understand what it’s like to be young. I understand what it’s like to not know exactly what you want to do but to know that, whatever it is, it’s far away from your parents.

I understand what it’s like to be home for the summer and feel as if your life is just one day looped into an endless reel of days. I understand what it’s like to be bored and to want to go back to college.

My wife worries that Emma is getting ahead of herself. But I don’t.

The way I see it, Emma is right on time.