The Middle: My Son Brought Home a Bitch, and Other Tales From Collegeland

This has been a huge week in our house.  An all-college, all the time, kind of week; and I’m fried!  We’ve been dealing with college age kids, college dramas, returning home from college, end of college school year, college graduation: one big Collegeland.

It all started a little over a week ago, when Middle Man started his road trip home from college.  Stepping back a few paces, there were Finals right before that, and the plans to store things or bring them home, but in fairness to Middle Man he did a pretty good job of managing all that without too much impact on us.  It was when his road trip home got under way that things got dicy.

Middle Man goes to school in southern California, and while the drive home could technically be done in one overnight, he loaded three friends and they took five days to drive north. To say that it didn’t exactly go smoothly, and that it turned into a very expensive trip home, would be a monumental understatement. Troubles began the day before departure, when it was time to pack the car.  I had just arrived for a pedicure, something I don’t do often, and which I had planned with friends. I was excited to have the time to relax with friends, and figured that my toes would at least look nice for our daughter’s college graduation the week after.                   (Six very happy feet.)

As I was just settling in my cell phone rang. Smart Guy was calling to tell me that Middle Man had lost his car keys and I might need to run home to look up some information on the car, so a lock smith could let him in.  No way! Sorry, I explained, but Middle Man has lost his keys a few times now, and this needs to be his problem, not mine.  Ok, borderline bourgeois: too busy getting a pedicure to be bothered with key problems. However, Middle Man is 20 now (making me nearly seventy, read here) and it seems like he needs to deal with the consequences of his own carelessness, not me. I pushed my feet deeper into the water, turned on the massage chair, pretended I wasn’t fluxed, and turned down the ringer on my phone.  Apparently, he survived and my toes got done.

The next day new key in hand ($100+ poorer) and car loaded, the four college students set out to drive up the west coast, to San Francisco, the redwoods, Portland, Seattle and then home. About two hours into the trip, the phone rang again. “Mom, do you know where my car insurance card is? I just got pulled over for speeding.” My son’s chagrined voice informed me.  Seriously?!  “I thought the speed limit was 65, but it had dropped to 55 because blah, blah, blah…”  And how fast were you going?  “Um, 80.” No idea how much the ticket was, but I’m guessing it was in the $150 range. Ka-ching. When they finally arrived in Portland four days later, we sighed with relief. They would be staying with a friend’s family and were now only a 5 hr drive from home. But then the phone rang again.

“Mom, the car just died in the middle of the road!”  One tow, a mechanic, repairs, and 24 hours later Middle Man was heading out again, with a new alternator and battery… $265.  About an hour out of Portland, a “huge rock” flew off a truck and hit the windshield; it will need replacing. Car and two college boys arrived home a day late and in the hole for about $250 on Middle Man’s side and probably $600 for the windshield and alternator, on ours.  Next time, he will fly home.

Amidst the debris and filth of a 20 year old’s car, was the new family member that we’d barely heard about let alone given a lot of thought to living with. Clearly Middle Man’s a sucker for big soulful eyes, but his girl’s a whole new bag of stuff to deal with. Considering that dogs are forbidden in the dorms, and we never agreed to having this second dog (for the summer), it’s a mystery as to how Middle Man made the whole thing happen.  I’d call it his charm, but that wouldn’t totally sum up the spell he weaves.  Middle Man was only home for about 24 hours before heading out for his sister’s graduation and a two week trip back east, so I have by default become Gracie’s care giver until he returns.

Can you say granddogger? (Thanks K.S.) I now have a shadow that follows me each step I make, and very much prefers to be in my arms. Admittedly, it’s hard to say no to her. She oozes attitude and charm, as well as dances a mean little dance, and our poor lab Luke, who is about 10x her size, is distinctly befuddled. This tiny spitfire chases him from his bed, snaps at him when he’s in her way and takes his food every chance she gets. Adorable, but nothing but a snotty bitch to Luke.

Twenty-four hours after one college kid arrived home, we were headed to the airport to see the other college student graduate.  The details of getting there (12 hrs of travel) seeing family, helping our girl pack up four years of her life, meeting her friends and professors, navigating twisty Massachusetts roads, eating out, eating in with her as she made each kosher meal, speeches and salutations, and all of the emotions that came with all of this was totally exhausting and amazingly wonderful, all at once. Watching all the other girls in Principessa’s dorm pack up their stuff and lug it down three floors (with one ancient elevator) with equally exhausted looking parents and siblings in tow, brought back so many memories of all the years we’ve moved her in, moved her out, as as well as those distant flashbacks of doing it for ourselves. All tolled, it was college life amplified in an incredible 48 hour blur.

Now Principessa is on her own road trip. A right of passage to some extent, she’s driving cross country (4,000 miles) on her own.  She fails to see why this makes my toes curl, but I assured her that some day when her own girl or boy wants to do the same, she’ll no doubt say to me “How could you have let me do something so dangerous?!”  My warnings that she must text us each morning when she departs and call each night when she is in her room and the door is locked, were met with verbal acquiescence and rolled eyes. She admitted that getting jumper cables and wiper fluid were good ideas (score one for mom) and promised to watch her speed and stop when she needed to. There’s little more we could demand, she’s a college graduate now and out in the world… albeit headed home.

And so I’m back to the usual daily grind: planning farewell parties for China and Denmark, who both leave in a little more than three weeks; helping Little Man get ready for finals and catch up on assignments missed; herding two dogs that are just starting to accept each other, but do not like each other; planning dinners and driving to appointments; and waiting for my two college kids to get back and turn it all upside down.  (I’m fairly sure that Gracie is silently mouthing: Don’t move mister, or else to Luke.)

Do you know what I’m talking about? College age kids and their stuff? Or just dogs that think their human?  I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please go to the post page and hit Like, and then share your thoughts!  Gracie will love you for it.

About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
This entry was posted in Aging, Awareness, Blog, Daily Observations, Humor, Life, Mothers, Musings, My world, road trip, Wonderful Things. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Middle: My Son Brought Home a Bitch, and Other Tales From Collegeland

  1. Brian says:

    If rock star status was measured by how busy one is, you rock!. Not sure how manage all that…amazing. Oh, nice story by the way.


  2. You’ll laugh at it all one day. I hope the send-offs to the forex kids aren’t too difficult!


  3. Rita Russell says:

    Wow , good luck – I think you may need it 🙂


  4. Valery says:

    Wait a minute… so your two are coming home from college BEFORE the two exchange students have gone? And a new dog, too? Holy crowded-house, Batman! Time to head east for a breather with some old friends 🙂 or maybe a little rejuvenating in Yellowstone…


    • NO KIDDING! I am so ready to take off, and none of that has happened yet…except the little dog! I am trying to pull together a visit East in August. I’ll keep you posted, but it’s going to be a challenge. I use the Batman exclamations all the time; love it! Must be our upbringing! 🙂



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