Revenge of the girl-child

Dont look now but the girl-child is coming home. College is done for another year and in a few days, my wife/co-pilot and I will pile into the truck and drive to DC to retrieve her. Normally the girl-child would just fly home. Shes got the flight schedule memorized and with gas costing an arm and a leg and an arm, its a lot cheaper to fly than drive these days. But flying isnt an option for the girl-child this time. Its not an option because she has to bring all her junk home before she jets off into the sunset. This trip home is just a short-term layover before she goes to Africa. Africa? I think to myself. Whats up with that? The girl-child tells me I need to expand my horizons. She tells me other stuff too. Make sure the truck is empty, the girl-child says. I have lots of stuff. Stuff? I think. Yes, stuff, she says, as though she knows what Im thinking, very important stuff that I will totally need when I get back to campus after next year. Im totally not sure I like the idea of the girl-child going to Africa for a semester. Sure, itll be a great educational experience. But is it safe? I read daily of election riots and tribal genocide and all manner of rape and pillage. Ghanas one of the safest of all the central African countries, she tells me trying to reassure me. Thats like saying Antarctica is one of the warmest of all polar ice caps. Im not convinced. All I know is that its far away and I dont know anything about it. For a dad, thats not a good place to be. Still, what can I do? Ive prided myself in being a cool parent, one who goes with the flow. I hardly flinched when she announced she was going to college in Washington DC. Even though I was thinking that she ought to follow her brothers footsteps and pick a college closer to home. Boring, she would say and then make that zzzzzzzzz sound. Thats how its been with the girl-child. She was born with wanderlust and a perpetual need for an adrenaline rush. Thus, her choice to study abroad didnt surprise us. While her classmates are going to London or Paris, the girl-child is going to Ghana. Her first choice was Nairobi, Kenya. Nairobi is a very safe city, she told me, very modern, western even. That was until late last year when an election went south and the country erupted into rioting in the streets. No one saw it coming. Not even the girl-child. So she switched to Ghana, another incredibly safe country. And besides Dad, what are the odds of THAT happening again, she says and then she giggles. Dont worry, Daddy-oitll be fine. Im not giggling though. Im thinking things, things like how were going to fit all her stuff into the truck or where well put it all when we get home, or even what Ill do if I start reading headlines with the word Ghana in them. You worry too much, Pop, she says. Its my job, I tell her, and I take it seriously. Seriously, Dad, she says, you need to chillax. As if. Howling at the Moon appears weekly in Denton Publications newspapers. When Mike Mender isnt charting his emotions with the headlines, he may be reached via email at mike@denpubs.com

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