So a couple of weeks ago Will told me, “Mom, I’m getting panicked because I haven’t done my dorm shopping and the girls told me all the ‘good stuff’ would be gone.”
To which this mama bird with two already done flown the nest—been there, done that—quizzed the boy, “What good stuff are you talking about?” Frankly, I was perplexed.
“I don’t know exactly, but Becca said the good stuff would be sold out.”
“Will, if by good stuff you mean sheets, towels, a hamper, that kind of thing, I just don’t think you would really think of that as good stuff. Besides, we already have a ton of it in the house.”
My boy, looking at said list, concurred. “Thank God, mom, I’m not panicked any more.”
He then went off to play in a lacrosse tournament at the shore, panic forgotten, with still not a stitch of college shopping accomplished.
Maybe I’m just too nonchalant this time around, but after sending two girls off to college, it’s a different story altogether with Will, and I am convinced this is another real life example of Mars and Venus at the teenage level.
My fellow mom friends shared these stories: “His linens arrived within 48 hours of him mumbling, ‘I want black and gray’ and they have remained unopened—he has no desire to look at them or check them out. I did tell him I had a dream that all the wrong stuff was ordered. That got him going for a second and then something else distracted him.”
“He has no interest in college shopping, and says he doesn’t need a thing. I bought some linens, hangers and stuff anyway and stashed it in his closet for now, and so I guess we are all set!”
“I was at TJ Maxx and saw twin XL sheets on sale, so I picked them up, washed them and he muttered as he stepped over them on the stairs (it would have been helpful for him to bend down and pick them up), ‘nice sheets, thanks mom,’ and I don’t even think he knows what color they are because he barely looked (white and blue).”
Katie’s college preparations were 180 degrees different, and I was also a different mom. But it was a long time ago, 2008, almost a full decade has passed since that summer. She and I pored over the “dorm essentials” shopping list, and checking it not just twice, but again and again.
Everything had to be perfect to feather the nest, her home away from home. The blankets had to be soft and homey, just like a hug, and the comforter had to be chic and stylish and yet have that loving embrace. Posters, rugs, lamps, mirrors—the list astounds me now as I think of those teeny tiny living spaces known as dorm rooms, and usually shared with another.
With Molly, we went through dorm rooms in high school and college, and it was the same story each time—the nest had to be feathered just so because the alternative was frightening—how could you achieve your maximum potential if your room was not your castle? If you couldn’t retreat from the rigors of college life into your sweet cocoon?
Will and I finished all his college shopping pretty much in one afternoon. We made one highly strategic stop at Bed Bath and Beyond, the store that has cornered the college market. They have college lists in-store, and will even pack and hold your items at the store closest to your school so you don’t have to ship—it’s all waiting for you to pick up when you arrive in town.
They honor coupons that have long expired and have no limit on how many you can apply. Will picked out two sets of XL sheets in the highest thread count we could find in gray and blue. A warm fuzzy XL blanket, and then the big treat: a Tempurpedic 3 inch mattress pad.
“Nah, we have lotsa pillows at home, right?”
“Right, so no pillows. Want a new comforter?”
“Can I take the one on my bed? Just as long as I have one when I come home?”
“OK. No comforter.”
Actually, the biggest splurge of the day came at the mall when we picked out his laptop at the Apple store. Thanks to college pricing we got a discount of a couple of hundred dollars and Beats headphones. A new phone is next, an iPhone 7 to replace the cracked iPhone 6 that is barely holding together.
And that pretty much sums up college shopping 2017. My new nonchalance is well earned through time and experience. I’ve learned that despite what some may think, going off to college does not mean being marooned on a desert island.
Civilization and the next Bed Bath and Beyond, Target and Walmart, are likely right around the corner. Mom and Dad can always send a care package and you can certainly send yourself anything you want thanks to Amazon.
So here we go, one last time. To all flying the nest this time, good luck, have fun, and always remember to call your mom and dad and the people who love you. In a world of dizzying change, that is one constant you should never forget.