As an investor, founder, CEO and business book author, I write about startups, design, how to build a good business, and I like to muse about culture in any form.

Did I raise him right (yet)?


CollegeStudent-1024x1019 Something astounding happens to a parent when a child goes to college. It’s been well documented. The mom or dad gets dumb. Really, really dumb.

In fact, in the first year or two away from home most college students become deeply alarmed at how a parent’s IQ seems to be sinking by the day. A college freshman, in particular, will be on high alert for this calamity. It’s no cause for offense. The student is like a human Lumosity brain teaser–whose every mental challenge, thrust and parry is lovingly designed to reverse the parent’s decline. After all, if his parent keeps on mentally slipping into an elderly abyss, who will cover the tuition bills?

I had one of those interactions with my soon-to-be-a-sophomore son. The below exchange relates to my previously pristine car. (Pictured here when it was still pristine.) The one that his friend accidentally rammed on a small intersection in Maine when they were caravanning behind me.  My son’s friend thought I was pulling out from a stop, didn’t double check if I actually did so, then gunned his engine.  From there e=mc2 took over.

My car has the bumper crumple to show it.  Actually it does not show it much at all–but it was apparently a big impact.  A $799 impact.

Here’s how it went down with my son:

Me: The body shop will need my car most of the week.  That is how much damage there is.  I am really surprised.  See the quote below.

Son:  Okay, I see, but I am fairly sure you are being ripped off here. Everyone knows auto body shops take advantage of people like you [editorial emphasis] that don’t know anything about cars so they can make more money. If Dad had gone in with the car I doubt the estimate would be this high. They have done many covert CNN show type things where they go into garages with the same damage but switch out a man vs. a woman and the garages constantly tell woman they require much more work to the car then men. if you just think about it, the type of repairs they say they are making don’t make any sense to be that extensive.

Me: Your theory here is cracking me up because this is the kind of awareness/activism I have taught you as my son. Can I use this in a light/funny blog post?

Son: Okay, but first use it to get a better rate.

Aye aye oh wise young grasshopper.

But…just when did I become “people like you?”  And exactly what kind of “people” am I anyway?

I know–just about the time this boy turns age 25 I will make a miraculous recovery.  Failing that, I’ll be much improved exactly at the moment he has his own first child.

I can wait him out.

3 Responses to “Did I raise him right (yet)?”

  1. Deborah S

    You hit the nail right on the head! My daughter has already graduated and is living at home right now (many seem to fly out of the nest and then zoom back in lol ) I think girls are a little different but not by much I guess we just have to take a deep breath, bite our tongues and as you say wait for them to become parents one day. Great post Jules it gave me a big chuckle and if it makes you feel any better people like us need to stick together I’m with you Sistah!

  2. julespieri

    Deborah. I always thought girls tended even worse, at least with their mothers. But with three sons , what do I know?

    You will enjoy this story that a friend emailed me in response to this post:

    “This makes me think of my blossoming relationship with 16-yr-old Sean who used to think I was OK but now thinks I have a knee jerk reaction to all circumstances.

    Highlighted recently:

    1. He’s going on a school outdoor canoeing trip where the kids plan the meals, great educational opportunity, (I think)
    Ask what is on the menu? innocent conversation opener, (I think)
    Opportunity for me to completely criticize menu choices and alter to suit me instead of the group, (he thinks)
    2. School starts, ask about classes and teachers, classic mom conversation opener, (I think)
    Opportunity for me to proactively email the school to push for new math teacher, (he thinks)
    I wonder why this shift happens where it seems like parents are ready to jump in at every turn! (he thinks)

    These conversations always escalated with his older sister, at least now I know better when to stop talking”


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