The Worst Day Ever

lex7Sandor and I helped Lexie move into her college dorm room today. It was terrible.

We did all the usual stuff, moved the bed, ran back to the store to buy cleaning supplies and a garbage can.  I gave her a hard time for not bringing a picture of me or Sandor.

Then it was time to leave her there on campus, surrounded by smiling frat boys who offered to carry heavy stuff and cute girls who were very helpful and friendly. While we were hugging for a really long time the tears started. Mine and Sandor’s, not Lexies.

I’ve done this three times and all three of my kids have earned full scholarships to college so yes, I’m really proud of them.

But the reality is once they leave for college they are gone.  They come back for weekends and summers but they are gone.

A million years ago a wrote a novel, Invisible Branches. I described waiting for the school bus to bring Mary and Jack home, and when it did and I heard them laughing and running up the driveway I felt like my heart was home.  Now it’s in a dorm room an hour away.

Lexo the cowgirl who wore red cowboy boots for nearly two years is gone.

One of the things gnawing at me, is the thought that I haven’t taught her enough or she wasn’t really listening when I warned her about the dangers of drunken frat parties, the dangers of a real city. All my kids are ridiculously confident and strong. Sometimes caution is a good thing.

She’s good at handling her money, actually cheap, but what if…

She loves to work out and eats pretty well, but what if…

I’m worried she won’t get enough sleep, she’ll meet charming handsome bad guys, she won’t ask for help when she needs it, she’ll forget to lock her car doors when she’d driving at night and will pay too much for college text books.

I’m worried she won’t she won’t be home to hug Sandor after a bad day at school and he won’t have her to snuggle with and watch Adventure Time and I Carley. I’m worried she  won’t be here to make her dad laugh, and she’s one of the very few who can do that. And I’m worried she won’t be her to hold my hand when we sit on the couch, to make fun of me when I try to talk like a cool kid. I’m worried because she won’t be here to side kick me in public and to say things like, “hurry home, I’ve got so much to tell you.” She won’t be here to make us all dance in the kitchen.

Obviously, Lex will be just fine. She listened when I lectured. She knows what she’s in for.

But coming home from work will never be quite the same for me.


Sit Down And Shut Up When You visit Your Kid’s Apartment

If you have a son or daughter who moves into their own place please read this. First, remember, if your kid invites you over you are really lucky. Nine times out of ten children will insist on meeting you in public so you can’t see how they are living. And sometimes it’s better that way. Maybe you can’t handle the truth.

But if you decide to go in you need to follow some serious rules.
When you first walk in, no matter what kind of nightmare national disaster you encounter, you must not gasp, shake your head or say something like ”
“Oh Lord.” You must keep smiling and talking without staring at the hairy kid with the catfish tattoo who’s sleeping on the couch. And don’t touch him either. Do not comment on the forty three Taco Bell bags behind the couch.
Now, find a place to sit down, then stay there. And don’t act like finding a chair is a big deal, even if you have to dig past dirty clothes and beer cans. Be Cool. Act as though it’s not a big deal. And please, do not pull out a germ-X wet wipe.

Once you are seated, stay there. That will keep you from doing the one thing you must not do. Clean. You absolutely positively can not start cleaning. Don’t touch the nasty dishes, don’t put dirty clothes into the empty laundry basket, do not empty the revolting ash trays. Just sit down and hold still If you start cleaning , you will offend your kiddo and they won’t ask you back. For at least 18 months. Would you walk into a friends house and start cleaning? I hope not.

While you are there, try not to use the bathroom. Sometimes a bathroom is so foul you’ll forget all the rules and start cleaning or crying.
Do not comment on the smell in the apartment, unless you seriously smell something burning. It’s their home. If they like the smell of wet dog and bong water that’s fine. Maybe what you smell is the roommate so bite your tongue and keep smiling and breath through your mouth..

If they offer you something to eat or drink, take it and say thank you. Do not point out that the coffee mug is chipped and dangerous, drink from the other side. Don’t try to pick the dried cheese off the plate with your fingernail. And don’t ask where the nice plates you gave him at Christmas went. Just take what they give you, look relaxed and smile. And you actually need to eat or drink, you can’t just fake it.

If a member of the opposite sex walks out of the bathroom or appears from a closet or bedroom don’t say, “Who are you?” Be polite and say something like, “Hi, I’m Diana, Joe Joe’s mom.” Again, be polite, You might try  “Those are  really pretty beads in your hair”.  Do not be nosey, you may not look at your son and say, “Did she sleep here last night?”. You actually don’t want to know the answer.

And finely, do not start poking around. Do not open drawers or cabinets, do not dig through closets. I promise you, you will not like what you find (a zip lock full of assorted condoms or midget porn). If you rummage  you are invading their privacy and you’ll never get invited back.

Things will get better as you child gets older. Eventually, they will clean the fridge and do the dishes, it just might take sometime.

Remember, your kid loves you, they invited you over! That’s an honor and probably means you did a good job. So, keep loving them and ignore the beer can sculpture.