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Boo Hoo It's Off To College For You...
by Shawn Underwood

Andrew, my oldest son is going to college. Most of the time I am so happy for him, but where does this leave me? He was an extra appendage on my leg until the age of eight, not that I minded dragging his little body around. To this day, he stoutly denies ever holding fast to my pant leg.

Andrew runs to the mailbox everyday hoping for acceptance letters. He is a bear to live with and we pray the school of his choice accepts him. It seems to me that “back in the day”; you applied for one or two schools at your leisure and were happy to go to whatever school accepted you. None of this exaggerated business of applying to ten or twelve schools, but I digress. Fortunately, for Andrew his preferred school admits him and all is calm at our home again. We are inundated with many emails from Gonzaga.

Does Andrew require the convenient package of XL sheets for his twin bed? This of course comes with a matching comforter and pillow sham, standard bedding package: $149.95.

Does Andrew require a twice-monthly 2-hour room cleaning service? Price: $65.95 per clean. There is a twenty-one-point checklist for quality assurance. Are you kidding me? His room is the size of a postage stamp.

Does he require laundry service? Light use: $19.95 per week. Andrew has been washing his clothes since age thirteen years. A birthday present from Bob and me, the laundry detergent included of course.

Andrew has the option to order his books ahead “on line”. Delivery to his school mailbox is included in this option. What the heck? I remember standing in interminable lines for the privilege of buying my used books.

Andrew follows every direction that I have given him in preparation for college. I am after a master packer, and he finally recognizes this...after eighteen years, not that I am counting. We shop for bedding (no, we did not order the expensive college bedding), and lamps and school supplies and clothing. Bob even takes him shopping for hiking boots (he is in the “outdoor/leadership” dorm). Speaking of the type of dorm, he is in... it is great for him. I am silently jealous that these super cool options were never available to me. Of course, an extra fee is required so that he can raft, hike, or take a cruise on Lake Coerd'lane. He also pays a fee for his campus-dining card; you should see the food that is available. There is food for every ethnicity on campus, definitely better grubs than he gets at home! We pack the essentials for his new room, and he packs the car. He is ready to go the night before we leave which is fortunate as he is going out with his high school friends tonight.

We have a happy road trip to Spokane Washington and drive straight to the hotel, which is walking distance from the school. After checking into the hotel, we wander around campus for a bit and find the bookstore. I incorrectly assume Andrew has ordered his books on line, who wouldn't? He has done nothing of the sort; I did not understand his lame excuse. I silently grind my teeth as he wanders around the shop carting his book cart like a lost soul. I nick behind a bookcase and ask a clerk to help him. She smiles at me; she has witnessed the “inept student, hovering mother” situation many times. She attempts to help him, he politely declines her offer, “I prefer to wander around for 2 hours while my parents twiddle their thumbs”. This is not what he really said but this is what occurred. Fortunately, there is no line as we are there a day early. Andrew says he was right in not ordering his books “on line” as going to the bookstore posed no problems. Bob dryly replies that we will come back tomorrow to show him the line. I am somehow irked at Andrew’s very self-satisfied attitude...

After dinner, we all retire early, as tomorrow is the big move-in day. We have a hearty breakfast of cereal with no milk and one tablespoon of scrambled eggs. Apparently, we missed the breakfast rush but also missed the food. Andrew is chomping at the bit to move in, but Bob and I insist on stopping at Starbucks before we undertake the day's chores. There is no one in line to as Andrew checks in at the dorm has and there are no people moving in. I begin to think we are in the twilight zone. I swear that lines are part of the initiation for college, like a giant Club Med.

Andrew likes his room and is comfortable in his postage stamp location. Good for him, I cannot imagine myself in this environment again, but then I am old and long in the tooth. His roommate arrives, and we leave them to unpacking, he says he will phone us later.

We are visiting a close friend and Andrew calls, he wants dinner right now. How nice for him, we finish visiting our friends and drive the twenty minutes to the dorm. Andrew is gone; he and his newfound friends are off to dinner, without us. For some reason I have my feelings hurt and begin to sob. Bob and I lament over Andrew's harsh dismissal of us over dinner, well actually, I lament and cry in my beer and Bob pats me on the back. The waiter looks sympathetic; Bob explains our oldest son dismissed us for his new friends. The waiter makes soothing noises, and I begin to feel better. I cheer myself with the prospect of a satisfying breakfast with our son tomorrow. This will be the perfect send off for our son. I will tell him some old stories from the past, about me of course, he will pretend to like them, and then we will have a giant hug fest.

Andrew stands us up for breakfast; I guess it was a tentative date, all in my head apparently. Anyway, I console myself with a visit to his room, I am sure everything will be unpacked and things will be arranged neat as a pin with pictures of Andrew and me in a prominent position. I packed our “mother-son” dance picture in his bag when he was not looking. I also put in Jocko the sock monkey in case he gets homesick. The room looks as though a tornado has hit and there are no pictures of the family, I do see several pictures of our dogs.

We compliment Andrew and his roommate on their marvelous room arrangements, and they preen like peacocks. I see Andrew has clothes hamper out in deference to his roommate; apparently, he will throw his soiled laundry in the hamper instead of the floor, as he is wont to do. Andrew tells us about his upcoming busy day, and we take the hint, well Bob takes the suggestion and begins to pull me out the door. Upon leave taking, Bob gives Andrew some sort of advise, I am at a loss for words. I hug my giant son, not caring if he cares. He tolerates me and pats my back, I am now used to this back patting. I walk quickly away and don't look back. Andrew waves goodbye and asks; “mom, when are you coming back, will you bring Lisa and Ken?” I know he will deny this but this is what he said. Just as he denies ever hanging on my leg, some things don't change.