Dropping Off A Kid At College – Bruce Rants Again
I am just back in town after a whirlwind trip from Lafayette to Atlanta and back. I think the last time anybody did that distance in as short of a time as we did they made a movie about it. Okay it was Atlanta to Texarkana in the movie Smokey and The Bandit but I felt like Burt Reynolds the whole darn time I was driving.
My son Jack, who many of you helped my wife and I raise, is back in Atlanta for his sophomore term at Georgia Tech. I know it's hard to believe a kid with that much talent, brains, and logic was spawned out of the fruit of my loins. I guess he got his mother's genetics and my ability to aggravate her.
This past Friday we got up at 3am and hit the road to Atlanta. When we arrived at Georgia Tech we were prepared for the living nightmare that is moving into the dorms. If you've ever had to help your kid move into a dorm it's like untangling Christmas lights. It aint fun and you'll swear you'll never do it again.
Surprisingly Georgia Tech had streamlined the process. They had huge plastic carts for everyone to use. They had rooms labeled with names and the keys actually worked. I guess when you're known for being a bunch of efficient engineers this would seem like a piece of cake.
It was when the unpacking began that I noticed my son was more like his Dad than his Mom. His clothes were jammed into suitcases. If wadding is folding then his clothes were folded. He brought dress shirts and dress pants but no hangers. He had all of his computer gear, printers, cameras, drawing equipment and no sheets for his bed. He didn't seemed concerned. He had a sleeping bag and that was good enough.
Last year we brought a mini-fridge, a microwave, a case of water and enough Ramen noodles to feed the freshman class. This year Jack packed a jar of peanut butter, some Gatorade and a few Pop-Tarts. We did bring a piano. Because at my house everybody leaves with a freaking piano and I get to carry it.
His Mom tried to situate family pictures in Jack's bedroom. There was a picture of her, Anna our daughter, me, and Cotton the dog. I noticed when we were leaving that everybody but Cotton the dog had been relegated to place of less prominence than what his Mom thought was best.
I whispered to him to make sure that before his Mom comes back to visit that he puts at least her picture on his desk. One, it's the right thing to do and Two, she is his Mom. Pictures of Moms need to be where their kids can see them. It helps to keep those late night calls from campus police to a minimum.
There is an inherit difference between boys going to college and girls going to college. For a boy, a dorm room is a place to eat, sleep, watch TV and fart. For a girl going to college it's a theme, a decor, a decorator's showplace, and something that will be judged by other girls and their mother's who come to visit.
When we went for supper before Jill and I hit the road, Jack tried to calm his mother's fears. He told her, "Mom I didn't use most of the stuff we brought last year". He explained that he didn't need a theme. He was right he didn't. He did what kids in college have done for years, he adapted to get by and get to class.
As Jill and I drove back through the Alabama darkness discussing our oldest child she made the following observation. " Why are men and boys so complicated?". We aren't, we are so very simple, it makes a woman think there is actually more going on between our ears when there really isn't.
To Jack a dorm room was just a place to keep his stuff while he goes to class. It's like his bedroom at home. To the untrained eye it looks like a mess of clothes and books and wires and speakers. To Jack it looks like home. For him to cultivate a learning environment he will have to be comfortable there and only he can create that level of comfort.
As the moon began to rise over the emptiness that is Alabama in the rural areas of Interstate 65 I thought to myself, "moving Jack to college is going to be a walk in the park compared to when we have to move Anna into a dorm". That is going to be a world war of epic proportions. A strong willed daughter and a strong willed wife going head to head over dorm room dominance. The dust ruffles will be flying and the comforters will be of very little comfort when that happens. Until then I will continue to play the part of the father, strong, silent, and smart enough to know that opening my mouth will get me in a lot of trouble.