How {not} To Take Your Kid to College

TeenOne and I have been friends a long time – 19 years, in fact.

  • Mistake #1:   Don’t think your kid is your BFF, she’s not.  She’s your kid.  You’re the grown up.

Since we’re such close friends, there was some kind of subconscious me that didn’t think she’d ever leave.  But this thing called an Acceptance Letter came for a visit and never left.  Annoying.

So there we were, barreling down the highway toward “college,” but we treated it more like a road trip.  You can call it denial, I called it, “taking quirky Instagram pictures whilst out-of-town.

After about five hours of beautiful coastline (yawn), we pulled up to her vacation destination college.

  • Mistake #2:   Don’t send your kid to a school about a billion-ty times nicer than where you live.

I took that photo with my iPhone and sadly, that’s exactly how it looks there.  Not just where we were — all sides of campus.  Believe me, I looked for the ugly.  Best I could do was the backside of some engineering building, where she’ll never go.

We were prepared for chaos and discord, but instead were welcomed with the most efficient check-in system since our last stay at the Ritz Carlton.  OK, we’ve never stayed there, but if we had? I’d expect similar treatment.  I didn’t even have to push the cart crammed with dorm gear, a very friendly student did it for me.  Even the guy giving directions to the parking lot was handsome and full of cheer.  Harumph.

  • Mistake #3:  Don’t expose your kid to people nicer than you are, she’ll realize her life was a lie.

I won’t bore you with the details of moving three teen-aged girls into a dorm the size of my master bathroom, just let your imagination run wild.  It was sort of like stuffing everything you own into a suitcase and then shoving three people in for good measure.  There was no drama, unless you’d enjoy a story about me, always standing in the wrong place and sweating through nervous verbal diarrhea.  Nothing new there.

While I was having my own personal hygiene issues, ThatGuy was having a moment of his own.  A moment called, “I really, really, really wish I were still in college and why won’t those guys tag me into their volleyball game?”

  • Mistake #4:  Don’t get sucked into the, “Maybe people think I’m a student, too,” lie.  They don’t.

So, she got all moved in and her roommates were nice, blahblahblah this isn’t happening.  We walked the campus and surrounds, trying to pick it apart but it was all good.  I started questioning my own living situation and wondered why she was getting to live at an oceanside resort when I was heading home to a front yard with a crabgrass problem and a cat with a litterbox-location disorder.


We took care of some housekeeping, like dragging her through campus to find her classes and nagging her about eating right.  There were washing machines on her floor, but they don’t take quarters like they used to.  It’s a reloadable-card situation.  Just in case we thought we were done spending money on this adventure.

The good news is, the machines are idiot proof.  The bad news is, we’re idiots.  We thought we were loading the card, we were mistakenly buying a spare card… what can I say, it was hot and laundry is stupid.

  • Mistake #5:  Don’t bother teaching your kid to do laundry.  Teach them how to push buttons and slide credit cards.  All set.

I could go on and on with Mistakes #6-99, but let me fast-forward to the big one:

  • Mistake #6:  Don’t stay a second day.

We had absolutely no business ruining the carefree, organized, scenic Day One by staying for Day Two.  Our intention was to smother her finish any last-minute shopping (interspersed with gazing into her eyes and professing our pride and adoration).

What really happened was something else.

We hadn’t slept well.  She hadn’t slept well.  We hadn’t eaten well.  She hadn’t eaten at all.  We’d showered and dressed in a Super-8 hotel.  She’d risen with the sun to beat tracks to the dorm showers before everyone else got there.

There were no speeches.  There was little-to-no eye gazing.  We all realized it was time to go home.  And those were two different places.

Sounds sad right?  It was, for a few hours.  ThatGuy and I said nary a word for the first hour of our drive home.

Then my phone blew up.

Text after text from TeenOne, and was she upset with us?  Not at all!  She was chatty, and busy, and happy and… dealing with life just fine and dandy without us, are you KIDDING me???

Well, Amen to that.  I guess we did something right, after all.