Friday, August 22, 2008

OFF TO COLLEGE

Note to D2: You said that I haven’t mentioned you in my blog for awhile. Well, here it is. Like it or not. Settle in because this is a long one.


It’s official. My nest is empty. (If only temporarily) Daughter #1 is visiting relatives and friends while job-searching in another state. Daughter # 2 has been safely delivered to, moved in and (now) hopefully loving college. It has been a hectic couple of days. I am running on too few hours of sleep in the last 72. So please forgive me if it shows.

We got a late start. My husband,( who today I will refer to lovingly as My Harley Stud but in the future may be better known as JackAss depending upon my mood - or should I say his) works from home and was slammed with things to do before we could leave. The stressometer was creeping ever so slowly up the chart with each passing minute that went by that didn’t see us in the car and on our way. D2 had agreed to take her friend, Band Boy, along with us as he was not taking his car to college. Each time Band Boy would call to check on our status, the stress would mount. We had hoped to leave the house at about 8pm but didn’t actually get on the road until after 10pm. There was some discussion that maybe we should wait until morning and leave very early but that was quickly shot down due to Tropical Storm Fay. As fate would have it, TS Fay strategically wound her path in such a way that each Florida University would be affected as thousands of students would travel to their schools to start fall session. The outer bands of TS Fay arrived at our home on Tuesday providing me with a much-needed day off from work and the added benefit of now referring to my home as “waterfront property”.

I should mention here that D2 and Band Boy both went to summer session and drove home together with all their STUFF in just her car. D2 added a 3 drawer storage bin to her STUFF but since she was driving her car and My Harley Stud and I were driving my car, it stood to reason that we should have plenty of room. I should also mention that My Harley Stud is kind of a control freak when it comes to things like packing cars, mowing the yard and all things that include tools or paint brushes. This is fine with me. I don’t like to do any of those things. However, MHS, as I mentioned was very busy prior to leaving so the job of packing the cars was left to me. I really tried to leave room for Band Boy’s STUFF but it’s hard to pack when you don’t know how much cargo you will be transporting.

We arrive at the pre-arranged spot to meet with Band Boy and his dad. They open the back of their SUV and we quickly realize that there is a problem. This is when My Harley Stud turns into the JackAss. Not to make excuses but he has had little sleep, we are about to embark on a 4 hour trip after 10pm and he now has to repack both cars in order for all of D2 and Band Boy’s STUFF to fit. I have to say I saw this coming and offered to make the trip alone. He was completely stressed out from work overload and he would have taken me up on the offer had it not been for TS Fay. He didn’t like the idea of us travelling through the storm by ourselves. He’s very macho like that. So anyway, I let him rant for a few minutes to get it off his chest and then showing an appropriate amount of refinement informed him that he was being a JackAss. He simmered for a few more minutes but eventually was able to at least smile at me when I would mouth JackAss to him.

Quick Note: My brother in law, Brain Buckets, taught me that the beauty of calling someone a JackAss is that even if they have to read your lips, the message is always clear. Not many words sound or look like JackAss.

Once on the road, we quickly catch up to TS Fay who is one slow moving witch. It’s raining, we are tired but we outrun Fay and make it to my Dad’s house at 2:40am. We set our alarms for 6:30am and crash. We’re off again at around 7:30am and TSF is just catching up to us. We have the breakfast of champions: My Harley Stud and I have McDonald’s (and the South Beach Diet dies another death) and D2 and Band Boy have those awful orange colored crackers with peanut butter in them. Finally, we arrive at the university at around 11am.

I don’t know if it’s like this everywhere but moving into a dorm (oh excuse me, they prefer to be known as residence halls) at D2’s university (D1’s alma mater) is a nightmare at best. After being instructed on the move-in process by the very helpful campus policeman, we decided to split up the get things going. We hauled all of Band Boy’s STUFF to the sidewalk in front of his dorm,(oops, I did it again) Band Boy went to check in, I waited on the sidewalk guarding his STUFF and MHS took D2 to her dorm (I’m such a rebel) to get her started.

Mistake #1: I left my cell phone in the car.
Mistake #2: I should have gone with D2.

Checking Band Boy into his room took longer than expected. As I stood on the sidewalk guarding his STUFF, I could see the clouds from the outer bands of my old friend, Tropical Storm Fay, starting to gather. This was when I realized I didn’t have a phone. I quickly took inventory of his STUFF to determine which items I would try to save from the rain if Fay decided to let loose. His guitar and sound system seemed the obvious choice and as I was trying to figure out how I would manage both those pieces, he came out with his key. As Fay started to just sprinkle, we made it into the building. Once his STUFF was stored in his room, I used his phone to call MHS to get directions. It wasn’t a far walk but was TS Fay was still spitting at us. I found MHS standing on the sidewalk with most of D2’s STUFF and he informed me that she took the first load to her room and he hadn’t heard from her since. I grabbed as much STUFF as I could manage and started the trip to her 7th floor dorm room. The door was locked when I got there. I could hear her muffled voice inside. I knocked and waited. No answer, just the muffled voice. I knocked again. She opened the door, cell phone in hand, big tears in her eyes and threw herself into my arms crying. This was BAD!

It’s probably a good time to mention that D2 attended summer session to get her feet wet when the university wasn’t packed with kids. During summer, she stayed in a newly renovated dorm, a suite style, which means she shared a room with another girl and a bathroom with the room next door. Her assigned housing for fall/spring is a community style dorm. This means she shares a room with another girl and a bathroom with everyone on the hall. (About 35 girls)

The new dorm is in an old building. There is a window air conditioning unit. The walls are concrete, the floor is old linoleum and the beds are built in without the adjustable options she had in her summer room. Her roommate had already moved in and the side she had chosen was decorated with all her pictures, knick knacks and pretty bedding. This made D2’s side look even more drab. At home, she has her own room and because her sister has been away at school for the last 4 years, she has had her own bathroom for that whole time. This was a very rude awakening for her. She was absolutely and completely devastated. I could hear the soothing words of her best friend on the other end of the phone. She gave her decorating suggestions and assured her that it wouldn’t be that bad. She promised to help decorate when she came to visit. (BF will be attending a school 2 hours away and they have big plans to visit back and forth.) All the while, she is collapsed in a heap in my arms. I tell her it’s not that bad, it’s going to be great when she gets all her STUFF unpacked and arranged. I remind her she is only here for a year (an eternity in her mind). I do my best to comfort her. Bless her heart, she was just so disappointed. She knew about the community bathroom but had not toured the building; she was so excited to get started on her college life and then was slapped in the face with this “disgusting hole in the wall”. She was not to be consoled.

As a mother, your heart breaks when your children are hurting. You long to comfort them and make all their troubles go away. But at some point, your comforting becomes enabling. I knew her dad was still waiting on the sidewalk clueless as to the melt-down. Band Boy had been delivering STUFF every few minutes during the whole ordeal. I would quickly usher him out to save them both the awkwardness of the situation. I decided enough was enough. I told her as gently as possible that it was time to put on her big girl panties and suck it up. Make lemonade out of lemons. Put one foot in front of the other and make it happen. My new approach was rewarded with the death stare. Eventually the tears stopped. MHS and Band Boy arrived with the last of her STUFF. BB left to go set up his own STUFF. No tears from him but his room isn’t any better. I guess boys don’t care about these things.

We decided it might be best to walk away for awhile. We took her to lunch. She refused to eat at her favorite place because she “didn’t want to associate this awful day with her favorite eatery”. Yeah, she is a bit of a drama queen but she is my drama queen and I love her to pieces, princess pout and all. So in honor of the occasion, we took her to a Mexican restaurant because she hates Mexican food. She felt this was appropriate. I promptly ordered a margarita and was thrilled to find that they were two for one.

Another quick note: D2 doesn’t usually get this worked up about things like this. She is actually pretty easy going most of the time. She was just SOOOOO excited. And then CRASH!

After lunch, it was off to Target to get some things to spruce up the place. A rug, a curtain for the closet with no door and a bookshelf would make things homier. Back at the dorm, we unpacked, arranged, decorated and settled in. She decided maybe it wasn’t so bad. Her new roomie arrived with her twin sister and another friend and they all hit it off famously. Things were definitely looking up.

We took her for ice cream (another South Beach no-no) before we left. It was really good. One of those homemade mom and pop shops. Yummy. While enjoying our treat, I asked her if her roommate turns out to be as good as she appears on first glance, would she still want to move if another room became available? (She is on a waiting list) She smiled and said, “Give me a week and ask me again.” I think she is going to be just fine.

7 comments:

Midlife Slices said...

I just love those kind of life lessons. She'll be fine and these will be some of the best days of her life. Good job, Mom.

Smart Mouth Broad said...

Thanks so much. It's so hard to know where to draw the line but one thing is for sure. The line must be drawn.

qtpie said...

Truly amazed at your writing talent! Brought me back to my college dorm years. I'd like to hear how the empty nest syndrome goes. My son is a senior, but John's two are in 8th grade and a sophomore, so I still have awhile to go to feel the empty nest syndrom, but I'd like to hear your thoughts!

smiles4u said...

What a great mom you are. Isn't it amazing how different our children can be in these situations? My last child went off to college this year too except he moved in June so that he could work this summer before starting school today and it is far far away from me. It's been a hard adjustment for me, even though I have little ones living here.
Glad that things are looking up for your daughter. Great post!

Smart Mouth Broad said...

Thank you so much for your very kind words of encouragement. It is definitely an adjustment. At least I know they will be back.... I have their dogs.

Lynn - the piggy bank painter said...

I found this second year of going to college was way easier for DD. Procrastinator that she is, she did pack up all her STUFF that had to go to school, and left the rest on her bedroom floor. (which is all packed up now. hehe) Anyway, thanks for stopping by my blog....sounds like we should have a margarita together : ) I'm gonna add you to my reader and see how your empty nesting goes. I still have a 12yo here at home and she says she's never leaving me.

Smart Mouth Broad said...

I'm all for the margarita session! Thanks for stopping by. I feel bad that you had to navigate through that post. It was fine and then all of a sudden all the spacing and links disappeared??? I've tried to fix it but came up with nothing. Thanks for reading it anyway. Hang on to that 12 yo. :-)