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Jeruba's avatar

Would you hand your kids a magic telescope that lets them see you as you were in college?

Asked by Jeruba (55592points) June 16th, 2011

My dearest and most beloved friend from college (L.) passed away six years ago. Two weeks ago I received a visit from her now-grown daughter and her own children. Now the daughter is asking me for stories about her mother.

I don’t know what the young woman already knows from those early days or how much my friend L. might have meant to keep to herself, but I do know she liked to be private about a lot of things. I’m sure L. didn’t anticipate—who would?—being absent when her adult daughter and I talked.

Would I want my children to hear a vivid first-hand impression of me as a college student? I don’t know. Would she? Would you?

Not that it was anything to conceal but only that we are so young and raw at that stage and the last thing on our minds is how we might look if a time machine sent our future children to peep into our lives.

QUESTION: Would you want your best friend from college helping your children to a portrait of you as a youth?

In your answer, please indicate whether this is hypothetical for you in the sense that college is not in your past and/or you don’t have kids.

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34 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

I went to a church college, and I would not hesitate to let my children or grandchildren see me then.

iamthemob's avatar


And then…I’d have to explain myself.

mazingerz88's avatar

Went to college. No kids. So this would explain my answer which is, “Forget the kids, hand me that magic telescope so I could see the fun things I did way back then!” Lol.

Jeruba's avatar

Let me clarify: I am not necessarily talking about wild or unruly behavior. But, for example, I know what my friend’s boyfriends were like, what they fought about, and how they broke up; I know what she was afraid of and what she disapproved of. I know that she didn’t like to be touched, and I know about the imaginary stories she told herself. I know how she looked in loafers and a nightgown, with giant rollers in her hair, with a raincoat over the nightgown and no underwear on. Would she want her daughter to see these snapshots? Should I be guided by what L. did or did not tell her daughter already?

wundayatta's avatar

I believe that my kids should know everything they want to know about me. I think it will help them understand themselves better. So if you were my roommate, I would give you free rein to speak. About everything. Yes. Including that. And that. Mm-hm. Even that.

Look, I’m not some kind of sacred cow. You don’t have to be reverent about me now that I’m gone. Tell the truth. All that you remember. It’ll be good for you, too, not to have to censor yourself.

If they tell you they don’t want to hear it, don’t press it on them. Just let them know the stories exist and you’ll share them if they like. They generally have had a pretty good idea of what they want to know and what they don’t want to know.

erichw1504's avatar

Yes, than they’ll know what to look forward to in their dorm days!

Lot’s of studying and attending classes.

JLeslie's avatar

Yes. Part of it depends on how old my children are at the time of course.

When I visit my my dad’s best friends from school they tell me stories about my dad when he was in college and I love it; I love hearing the stories. Same regarding my mother. They actually have some friends from jr high that tell stories of them when they were very young, and my grandparents.

I think as children get older it is good for them to know their parents are real people.

janbb's avatar

I think so; I don’t think there would be any big surprises. I certainly had many youthful indescretions but they know who I am and who I was pretty well.

jrpowell's avatar

I didn’t really start college until I was 24 due to financial aid stipulations. I was pretty boring by then and mostly focused on school since I had spent the previous 5 years getting loaded and chasing ass while working shitty jobs. Once I got a full ride I was pretty boring.

flutherother's avatar

I wouldn’t mind my friend talking to my kids, he would be more tactful than the ‘magic telescope’ I am sure.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Of course. I will tell them anyhow how I was. I was awesome.

jonsblond's avatar

My children wouldn’t have to ask because we are very open with them and we’ve told them some of our stories, especially our oldest who will be a sophomore in college this fall. We tell him how proud we are of him because he doesn’t do the stupid things we did at that age.

To answer your question, yes, I would let my best friend tell them stories from my past.

Jeruba's avatar

Hmm. The “related” link over there in the sidebar reminds me that I actually described this friendship in a previous question. So that is the kind of story I might tell.

I never sugarcoat my memories of the deceased; I consider that to be disrespectful.

Cruiser's avatar

I plan on it the day they graduate college I will tell them the whole story! It is a GOOD one! Crazy and Good!

FutureMemory's avatar

I don’t think such a telescope exists, Jeruba.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

There are many of us that want to lead a private life, or at least certain aspects of it. While growing up, some children seem oblivious to the fact that their parents were once young themselves, and don’t bother asking questions about their past. Pair that up with a don’t ask – don’t tell parent, and the history can be overlooked.

Not too long ago, I pulled a box of old letters and a diary of Mom’s from her attic They were from her college years in the 40s. Since her eyesight is nearly gone, she asked me to read them to her. It provided insight into what this young woman was like, and I am thankful that she was willing to share this with me. We occasionally laughed, and I cried a few times. A lot of questions were asked, and we ended up doing a bit of research on the internet for old friends.

Unless the friend asked you to keep her college life private from her daughter, then it seems like it would be a great gift that you could give to her by sharing your stories.

Sunny2's avatar

I would welcome it. My daughter would have no problem recognizing me. She might be surprised at my spirituality at that time. but not my activities. Thanks for the suggestion. I think she and I might have fun talking about our individual college experiences, since I have no idea where my best friend at the time might be.

zenvelo's avatar

I would hope my two fraternity brothers who are godfathers to my children would honestly share what I was like in college, good and bad.

My kids know a lot about what I was like then, so there would not be any huge secret, just add a bit of depth to their memory. My kids have seen a lot of pictures of me from that time; I think they would not be at all upset.

Blueroses's avatar

I love hearing stories about my mother from the people who “knew her when”. It gives a more complete picture of the human I didn’t get enough time to know. Warts, mistakes and all.

augustlan's avatar

I didn’t go to college, but I regularly tell my kids what I was like in my youth (at an age-appropriate level).

I think it would be a great gift to give this woman’s daughter and granddaughter any insight you have to share with them. The only thing I wouldn’t share is something that might be terribly hurtful.

augustlan's avatar

Also: [mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Yes, I think it would make them want to do better in school now not to end up working as much as I did and coming away with so little. I want them to see sometimes it’s best to face something head on and with as much preparation and planning as you can muster in order to have a smoother time later. Right now one of my future step-sons appears to be in limbo and I worry he’ll begin an adult life as I did, all hard ways.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I do not have children,but I did go to college.
There is no way I would want them to see what I did while there! LOL!

FluffyChicken's avatar

Were I to have children, I would have no problem with that. How can your children respect you and be honest with you if you are not honest with them?

Jeruba's avatar

Don’t you see a difference, @FluffyChicken, between being truthful in what you do say, on the one hand, and, on the other, telling all you know, no matter how unnecessary, indiscreet, and possibly damaging—especially when the subject is no longer around to consult or to offer her own version? The L. I knew back then would probably have been all for candor—but I don’t know how she might have changed in her later years, and I don’t want to harm her daughter’s perception of her. Besides, I am not the keeper of her honesty with her daughter.

I have told my own children that I would never lie to them, and I have not. But I have also said, “I don’t expect you to tell me everything about your life. I’m not going to tell you everything about mine.”

faye's avatar

I think I’ve told my kids all the interesting stuff, good and bad, but I have a couple of friends who could go ahead with anything they know.

JilltheTooth's avatar

As long as the stories were told in a loving vein by a good friend who really understood the context (both of the college days and the present story-time) I would be delighted. Katawagrey knows I’m all too human and I would like her have a more comprehensive view of who I was and how I became the person I am.

ucme's avatar

No need for anything so fantastical, it’s called relaying life experiences coupled with their vivid imagination.
Of course it may be censored here & there a little, but that’s only to be expected.

Stinley's avatar

I went to college and have kids. I think that since the daughter is grown up she is probably more than able to cope with stories about her mother’s past and I think she would be delighted to hear of another side to her mother that she hadn’t previously known. Especially now that her mother is dead and there are no opportunities for her to hear them first hand. I think it always interesting and tickling to hear about someone you know well from someone who knew them in a completely different context. She’s not going to think less of her mother and it may help her to understand her mother better.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Oh, right, I went to college, I have a kid. Sorry, @Jeruba , I forgot that part.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Some of these responses reminded me of the movie The Banger Sisters.

zensky's avatar

Sure. I was much older when I entered college and very soon was the father of two while studying and working. No keg parties and frats for me. All they’d see is an exhausted young daddy trying to keep up. Usually unsuccessfully.

BellaB's avatar

Went to university , not college, but I’m guessing it’s similar. No biological children.

I“d be pleased that my friend and children were close enough to start the discussion -and yeah, let it all hang out. I’d want my kids to know who I was – silly and serious.

Two of my closest friends are married (I have known him since grade 1 and her since grade 10) and have adult children. We often talk about the good old days with their children (daughter in particular) – no holds barred. It feels good for all of us.

Coloma's avatar

My daughter is 28 now, turning 29 in Nov. and she knows all about my wild youthful escapades in the 70’s. haha Once, when she was about 19 or 20 I was cautioning her about the whole, sex, drugs and rock-n-roll thing. Her emphatic replay?

” MOM! YOU were way wilder than I am!” haha
Put me right in my place, yep, projection at it’s finest. I assumed she was going to party it up when, in reality, she hardly drinks at all, has smoked a little weed but is very responsible and has a great job. Silly me.

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