Sunday, August 21, 2011

So Long, Farewell - Go, Already!

by Caren Crane

Before anyone gets concerned, this blog is not about me going anywhere. No, this is about something that is happening all over the country. It started last week and will continue for several weeks to come. This is about a bunch of parents - me and my husband included - packing their cars, vans and SUVs full of junk and hauling it all to universities near and far. This is about the stuff of dreams and all-too-much drama: college move-in day.

On Friday, we had the dubious pleasure of moving our middle child and older daughter to college. She happens to be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (yes, I own one of these buttons - Go Tarheels!), but I'm sure our experience was fairly common. We followed a series of signs along a convoluted route to get in a line to be assigned a parking area where we were allotted a generous 45 minutes to "unload".

Now, we have an ancient Plymouth Voyager SE minivan - the extra long kind. We took out the back bench seat and were able to load the 10-foot-long roll of carpet into it. It fit perfectly, as if designed for just such duty. I have a feeling those minivan engineers had packed more than one kid off to college! In addition to the carpet, we had a dorm fridge, saucer chair, all manner of clothes, shoes, bedding, books, hangers, toiletries, laptop, etc. I don't recall my son having nearly as much stuff, but guys have different priorities. I recall lots of angst over routers, ethernet connections and gaming systems when he went to college.

We managed to get the van unloaded and everything carted to the 9th floor (yes, the 9th of 10 floors) in the furthest dorm from the main campus. The RAs and residence hall staff were all great. They arranged it so only half the kids were moving into the dorm on Friday and the other half Saturday. It seemed - on Friday - to working fairly seamlessly. (For fun, click on this time lapse movie of move-in to my daughter's dorm - it's #4, Hinton James. It looks like it was taken last year, when there was a big storm moving through, and I have to say there were LOTS more cars there this year.)

I was fine while we dropped the daughter off. She was more than ready for us to leave by the time we left. My husband and I were both rather down and depressed Friday night. It didn't help that the youngest - who will be a high school senior this year - spent the night with a friend and was gone all day Saturday at a church event. We got a real taste of the empty nest. I had to call my mother on Saturday and whine a bit. She understood exactly what I was whining about.

On Saturday, I had to go back to the university to deliver the second load. This load was everything that she had forgotten on Friday. By late Saturday afternoon, when I arrived with said second load, things were winding down and there wasn't an RA in sight. The parents who had driven down from places like New York and Minnesota looked dazed by the heat, humidity and lack of air conditioning in the elevators. But hey, at least they have A/C units in all the rooms now. They just finished air conditioning the last of the dorms LAST YEAR, if you can believe it. As balmy as it was in my daughter's suite on the 9th floor, at least there was a window unit chugging away. Again, my daughter was more than ready for me to be gone when I left.

Meanwhile, one my friends reported that when her son went to drop his daughter off at college on Friday, she cried and begged to be taken home. It took all his powers of persuasion to get his daughter to tearfully agree to stay and give it a try. While I was a bit disappointed that our daughter didn't even pretend she would miss us, I was really glad that she didn't cry and beg to be taken home. I'm not sure I could have steeled myself to leave her there if she had. Kindergarten was bad enough!

Do you have a college move-in day experience to share? Yours or your kids or someone you know? I recall my own being fairly calm, like my daughter's. Did you beg your parents to take you home - or did your kids beg you to take them home? I'll bet there are as many stories as their are kids. Do share! Meanwhile, I'll be waiting to see if more urgent phone calls come in for more urgently-needed "stuff". I'll also be planning how to get it all moved out at the end of the semester! ; )


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

If only we could get the Chook to go away to college!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Posh,
No going away to college story, but I do remember getting a bit teary-eyed when my son moved to Southern Cal. I was totally dry-eyed when he moved to his first apartment, because it was only 5 miles away, and he was back 3 days later with his dirty laundry!

I couldn't WAIT to go away to college myself, so I understand your daughter's POV. ;-) They think they are sooo mature and independent. LOL!


Helen said...

Well done AC have fun with him


Loved that time lasp video LOL

Here in Australia this is not a very big thing don't get me wrong it does happen depending on what University your child goes to we only have had one of ours go to Uni and she would catch the train to Uni on the days she had classes, so for us she was still at home although my sister had to get her eldest down to Victoria for him to go to Uni which is a ten hour drive from their place and he rented a unit of campus so they had heaps of furniture as well but he as happy for them to leave him in another State LOL.

I am glad everything went well and with emails and social networks it is much easier to stay in contact these days.

Have Fun

Kim in Hawaii said...

Aloha! My oldest just started high school so I still have four years. But all of Oahu knows when University of Hawaii is back in session (next week) as our one highway will be clogged as it snakes through the campus area near Waikiki Beach. Can you imagine going to college in Hawaii?!?! I'd probably skip Calculus for surfing!

marybelle said...

My children are still at home, but I will miss them terribly when the big moving out day comes.

Sheree said...

But, AC, if the Chook goes to college, who will pay for his tuition?

Back in the day, my parents didn't drop me off at college; they dropped me off at the airport. They did drive up the weekend afterward with stuff for me. I was okay, but apparently my mother wasn't, according to my sister. My dad just wanted to look around at what his hard-earned money was being spent on.

Of course, it was easier when my sister went off to college (at least it was in the same city). After she got settled in, we (my school started later) all went over there, not just to check the place out but also to take home all of our stuff that she took.

And when each child went away to college, one parent would have to take over the dogwalking duties (but I'm sure the dog was a lot more accommodating than teenagers).

Anonymous said...

My move-in experience was uneventful. My parents took me to where I was going to stay. I didn't cry, but I think my parents did. :)

PJ said...

AC, congrats on grabbing the GR!

Caren, pat yourself on the back for raising a daughter who is strong enough and independent enough to embrace this new life adventure rather than begging to be taken home.

It's move-in week at Clemson too which means I have many friends and neighbors doing exactly what you've been doing. One of the neighbor kids is starting her freshman year and I'm still trying to adjust to the fact that she's old enough to drive, let alone go off to college!

Caren Crane said...

Aunty Cindy, you'll NEVER get the Golden Rooster off to college if you keep taking him home with you! Plu, I'm not at all sure he has the test scores and grades to qualify. Hm.

Who was in charge of getting him to the SAT test last time???

Caren Crane said...

AC, when my son (the oldest) went to college, he felt we were extraneous to the whole process. Our only involvement was sending the school money and providing credit card information on demand.

When we took him to move into the dorm, he allowed us to help carry things upstairs - to the second floor, not ninth!

I couldn't WAIT to be out of my parents' house, so when I finally got to be on campus (as a sophomore), I am sure I shooed them off without a thought! And yes, I was just as "mature" as my kids believe/believed themselves to be. Ah, to be so young! :)

Caren Crane said...

Helen, I was a commuter for several of my college years, so I know what you're talking about. It was hard for me, as a freshman, to feel like a grown-up all day and then come home where they treated me like the kid I still was. *g*

As a sophomore, I had an on-campus apartment so that was better - for me. We did move my son into an apartment off-campus his sophomore year. We predicted it would not be a good move and we were right. Still, he grew up a lot. Why must so many of us learn the hard way?

Caren Crane said...

Kim, I can't imagine going to college in Hawaii. I found plenty of distractions in Charlotte, NC, and believe me, I had to LOOK for them sometimes. In Hawaii, they are built-in!

Still, I imagine it's much more affordable for kids to stay on the island than to fly back and forth to the mainland. I wouldn't ever have gotten a thing done, though.

I think kids who manage to graduate from the U of H should all get special honors!! Good luck to your son in high school. That is a big transition!

Caren Crane said...

Marybelle, I've found college to be a bit different (though no less traumatic) than dropping them off at elementary/middle or high school, simply because you have no idea when you'll see or hear from them again. *g*

My son NEVER called unless he needed money - and he almost never did. My daughter has already called about 12 times - but only because she needed things.

One odd thing was, half the kids moved in on Friday and others were there as much as a week before for sports and marching band and stuff. When did the dining halls open? Saturday night. Believe me, there was nothing about that in the move-in information! *g*

Caren Crane said...

Sheree, I don't think we have to worry about the chook actually getting into college. However, if he tries to shake anyone down for "online tuition", DO NOT PAY! It's one of his many scams.

Sheree, I am sure there are plenty of kids dropped at the airport each semester, with stuff to follow! I was surprised to see license plates from New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Louisiana. And those were just ones I was behind. : )

At UNC-CH, though, I think many parents are alumni and use it as an excuse to come see the campus again. No idea! Then again, I know there were kids coming from California (I met one family at Orientation earlier), so I doubt they hauled her stuff across the country.

The RAs were passing out directions to Target (and another superstore I refuse to patronize) like candy. My daughter's suitemate mentioned an organized "Target run" that was on for last night. Of course, my daughter said she couldn't think of anything she needed - because I had just been to Target and brought her another carload of stuff!

Too funny about your parents trading the dog walking. I'm sure the dog was much more understanding about the situation than you and your sibs! I was laughing about your sister stealing all your stuff away to college, too. My youngest wants to go to a school that's about 4-1/2 hours away. I am going to have to watch her like a hawk when she's packing!

Caren Crane said...

Antonia, I don't recall any drama from me or my parents when I was left. I certainly didn't cry when my son went to school. He was a challenging teenager to parent and handled every bit of applying for college himself - even refusing campus tours.

With my older daughter, though, she needed lots and lots of help with all the minutiae around applying for school, accepting (and rejecting) admission, crossing Is and dotting Ts. So, for her to be so ready to have us shove off was a bit of a surprise. I was not torn up about the whole thing, but I am starting to feel the void she's left. I'm sure, as the months wear on, I will feel it even more.

I was the third child of five in my family, so my parents shed no tears when I finally moved on campus. I'm pretty sure it was a "three down, two to go" situation! *g*

Caren Crane said...

PJ, isn't it hard to wrap your brain around how fast other people's kids grow up? I mean, mine have been bad enough, but seeing my friends' "babies" starting middle and high school is just rude! *g*

And yes, every time one of the girls in my GS troop gets a drivers' license, it brings on more gray hair. I'll be dying it every three weeks by the end of the school year!

I'm also waiting for the phone call from my daughter to let me know I need to bake cookies and bring them to campus for her and her friends. It's coming, I have no doubt!

Nancy said...

Cindy, think of the chook on a college campus! The mind boggles.

Caren, this is a timely blog for our family and many others. The boy hops a plane into the Deep South tomorrow. We're driving down later with his stuff (no furniture, which simplifies things), but he had to be there early. He's the last of his friends to go. Several trekked to Chapel Hill, and I thought about you.

Until the plane takes off, the dh and I are stiffening our upper lips, but we are going to miss him terribly. He's going too far away for casual jaunts home. And too far for us to bop down with anything he forgets. What we can't mail, he'll have to either replace or do without.

I spent my freshman year at Westhampton College, part of the University of Richmond. It's a great school and beautiful campus, and I met some wonderful people. However, it was not a good fit for me. I transferred to Davidson, 8/10 of a mile from my parents' house, the next year, and that was a perfect fit. If a bit closer to home than I would've preferred.

Nancy said...

PJ, I recently talked to a classmate I hadn't seen in quite a few years. She mentioned that her daughter was about to graduate from Wake Forest. My reaction was, "That's impossible. She's only 13!"

Not. *sigh* I had no idea where the years had gone.

Nancy said...

Caren, there are now many distractions in the vicinity of UNCC. Many. Clearly too many for some of our students to juggle.

I loved Chapel Hill. When I was in school, Davidson had two sandwich shops and no restaurants. We sometimes drove to Mooresville to King of Pizza. Being in Chapel Hill, with two movie theaters and many eateries on Franklin Street, any easy walk from the law school or an easy bus ride from my apartment, was a big but delightful change.

PJ said...

I'm also waiting for the phone call from my daughter to let me know I need to bake cookies and bring them to campus for her and her friends. It's coming, I have no doubt!

Caren, when my nephew started his first year of college I sent him 12 emails with the following messages: Chocolate Chip (4 emails), Peanut Butter (4 emails) and so on. (using his favorite kinds of cookies) I told him when he started feeling homesick, was stressed out over classes or just craved something homemade to hit "reply" to one of the emails and a package would be in the mail within a few days. It was a big hit - with him and the kids on his dorm floor! :)

girlygirlhoosier52 said...

I live in a college town & move-in day is gridlock on campus. But this is the 2nd year of the leftover dorm stuff sale! What a great idea, at the end of spring, there's a collection of all the stuff that would go into the dumpster. It's sorted, priced and stored over the summer. Then there's the sale! Beds for $15; tvs for $10.. all kinds of stuff! Sustainability and the city of Bloomington’s sustainability initiative. All the unsold merchandise will be loaded into a semi trailer and taken to a local Goodwill store, so that nothing will be transported to the landfill.Also instead of hauling the big stuff home, rent a storage unit & share it with someone - like next year's roommate!

Amish Stories said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Donna MacMeans said...

Hugs Caren on the birds leaving the nest. I remember packing my daughter off to school years ago. She didn't cry and make a scene - but I quietly cried on the drive back home.

As for my college experience, I was anxious to go and was more than ready for my parents to leave after delivering me with all my stuff to the campus. It was an exciting adventure! Then homesickness set in. It was good that there wasn't an easy means to get home or I probably would have used it. Alas - that too passed and I adjusted to the new environment just fine - as will your daughter, I'm sure.

Louisa Cornell said...

Yes, Aunty, but who'd want to move all of his stuff? Have you SEEN his rooms in the Lair? Yes, I said ROOMS!

Kudos and commiserations on pushing another fledgling out of the nest, Caren! I have no doubt, with you as her mother, she will do just fine!

My Mom had just gotten out of the hospital when I had to move into my dorm over 100 miles away. My Dad had moving duty and I think it turned out to be an emotional but appropriate choice. I was always a Daddy's Girl, big time! He helped lug all of my gear up to the THIRD floor, announced I could unpack and settle in once he was gone and took me to lunch in the town's ONE restaurant. He kept it light and funny, but he made sure I knew how proud he was of me. I was the first person on either side of my extended family to ever go to college. That was 34 years ago. We lost Dad 13 years ago. I still see him waving out the window of that station wagon saying "Bye, Stinky. Have fun!"

jo robertson said...

Great post, Caren. Moving kids into college dorms is soooo traumatic. Good luck to your daughter. I hear Chapel Hill is a beautiful college setting.

I moved across the country to go to college, but I don't remember it being so traumatic. I was a bit lonely at first, but after I made friends, a piece of cake!

Virginia said...

Moved my son into college dorm yesterday and everything went pretty smooth but man was it hot. We were catching the elevators about right and everything. We just used the steps coming back down to leave elevators open for the one going up. Over all things went pretty good.

Janga said...

My mother and sister cried all the way home after they left me. I was too excited for tears. But I had a wild child roommate who shocked me, and I called Mother and Daddy begging them to come get me about two weeks into the quarter. They wisely persuaded me to wait until our first open weekend (Freshmen were not allowed to leave campus for the first six weeks), and by that time my roomie and I were the best of friends.

Coming from a different perspective, I spent twenty years teaching at least one section of freshman composition each fall, and essays and conferences made me aware that homesickness was a common ailment. I suspect some of those students writing and talking about how much they missed family and home were kids who played cool when their parents left them on campus. An interesting point--studies have shown extroverts are homesick more often than introverts because inner-focused introverts bring their world with them. It's the outward-focused extroverts who have the bigger adjustment.

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, I was thinking of you when I wrote this post and wondering if The Boy had left yet. It seems most private universities start a bit later, so bit of a reprieve for you and the DH!

I can only imagine one of the kids being so far away. As Sheree said, it's kind of a drop-em-at-the-airport proposition. It's good that you guys will be able to cart some stuff down for him, though. They do need some personal things around, IMO.

My daughter's roommate had one of those three-drawer plastic chest things with wheels in her closet space, a few clothes and three bins she hadn't unpacked. She had moved her stuff in on Wednesday, but then popped off to an off-campus bonding-type event for a few days. So, she was just unpacking yesterday, while our little lovely had her stuff placed, posted and plastered everywhere!

One of the things she had me bring on Saturday was double-sided tape so she could hang posters. Not that she has any posters, but she's obviously planning to acquire some! That place will be decorated within an inch of its life within a month.

I'll bet your son will not have that issue. I know my son's dorm room was all awash in gaming systems and computer networking gear, but not big on posters!

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, I have no doubt that lovely daughter will find all the distractions she cares to find in Chapel Hill!

I'm also sure that Charlotte is much more exciting now than it was in my day. Now that downtown is "uptown" and there are all those great eateries and things along the old South Blvd and in the NoDa district, there's all manner of things going on!

My hope is that my children are much wiser than I was when I went to college (the first time). We have certainly talked to them plenty about the temptations, potential pitfalls and how to avoid them. Our son is now paying his own way (slowly) toward finishing his degree (someday). Hopefully the girls will get finished the first time around!

Caren Crane said...

PJ, what a brilliant idea!! I think I'll try that with the daughter. She will love both to get the cookies (and taste of home) and to share with her friends.

I've often commented on your brilliance, but it's so true! You are a wise, wise woman, PJ. I need to come and study with you!

Caren Crane said...

Girlygirl, that is a great idea! At UNC-CH, they did something similar for a couple of years and donated monies to designated charities. I think either it got too big to manage or there was (probably) debate about where to donate the money.

So in May of this year, they simply had people take their used furniture, clothes, shoes, etc. to these PODS units parked around campus. The items were donated directly to different charities. I'm not sure which is better, but it did prevent like 8 tons of furniture and 4 tons of clothing and shoes from going into the landfill.

The environmental impact of big schools is amazing (in a bad way). It's great to see colleges taking ownership for community sustainability! I hope the community around you really embraces it.

Caren Crane said...

Donna, I think saying goodbye to daughters is especially hard for moms (though it seemed to hit the DH pretty hard Friday night). This daughter has been great company for me, so there is a big, quiet hole where she has been. It kind of helped that she worked at camp all summer, because I've gotten used to the house being quieter.

It's also a comfort to us that she does NOT have a car on campus this year. That way we have a bit more assurance she is actually at the school, though there are no guarantees! We have asked her to let us know if she plans to travel with friends. We'll see if that pans out. :)

Yes, I was happy as a lark to be left at school. It shouldn't surprise me a bit that my kids are the same way. I am not sure it was a surprise, but it was a tiny little hit to the parental ego. Still, I'm SO GLAD there were no tears!!

Caren Crane said...

Louisa, what a great story! Your dad seems to have really known what he was doing. I love it that he had no intention of helping you make your bed and all that.

My daughter wanted the help, but the DH sat in the desk chair looking like he would rather be anywhere else while my younger daughter and I helped her get settled.

I love it that you have that great picture of your dad waving goodbye out the window. Also that he called you Stinky. What a great, funny guy he was! I'm sure as a Daddy's Girl, that is a memory you treasure. Hugs to you!

Caren Crane said...

Jo, I can totally see you waving your parents off without a care! I can also see you jumping in and making friends with no problems at all. You are the picture of a land-on-your-feet, practical sort of woman.

So, any tears when shoving any of your kids off to college? Or was it more of a "four down, three to go" sort of affair? I imagine it was different for each of them!

Caren Crane said...

Virginia, that sounds much like our experience. Elevators up to the ninth floor, stairs back down. Of course, there was no A/C in the elevators, but anything beats schlepping the stuff up all those stairs!

So, which school were you moving your son into? I think it was probably hotter than Hades all over the U.S. this past weekend!

Caren Crane said...

Janga, how sweet that your mom and sister both cried. You were obviously a great source of strength (and probably entertainment) for both of them.

I love that you and your roomie became friends despite your outward differences. My daughter and her roomie seemed to take to each other right away, which was nice. It will be interesting to see what happens when their differences surface. I have a feeling my daughter's lack of tidiness may cause an issue if she isn't careful!

I hadn't heard that about extraverts vs. introverts with homesickness, but it makes perfect sense. My son was never homesick (that I heard about anyway). Not sure how it will go for this daughter. She kind of straddles that E/I line, like I do. I did miss my family eventually, but it took a while! :)

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Louisa said: "Have you SEEN his rooms in the Lair? Yes, I said ROOMS!"

Oh yes, I noticed the GR has a certain talent for taking over rooms he deems are "unoccupied." He had installed an enormous wall safe in one of the studies and I'm sure it is stuffed with every variety of TimTam known on this earth. :-P

And Posh, you are right to warn everyone about him scamming for college tuition. I heard him cackling something about student loans just last week! BEWARE Banditas and BBs! Just sayin...


Deb said...

Hi, Caren. We haven't had a child go to college and move tons of stuff, but our son did join the Marines 3 years ago and it was a positive experience for all. Not sure about February of 2012. There's a high probability John will be deployed to Afghanistan, so that is a TOTALLY different feeling than sending one's child to college.

I do remember when we dropped my older sister off at college. She stood there crying and waving and my folks cried for quite awhile on the way home. When I went to college, I didn't have a lot of stuff my freshman year, but for my other 3 years seemed to have enough stuff to load the back of my dad's pickup. :)

Kate Carlisle said...

Awww, Posh!! I'm all teary-eyed on your behalf -- but also laughing at your wishing your girl had shed at least one tear, maybe two. But no. LOL

So many sweet stories here today! I don't have any of my own so I'm just going to thank everyone for sharing theirs. :-)

Gannon Carr said...

Caren, we just dropped our son off this weekend, too. He was ready for us to go---we got everything unloaded (they had volunteers to help haul everything inside) and put away, more or less.

I didn't cry---waited until later. I'm sure that reality will set in soon.

Caren Crane said...

AC, I fear the GR has NO MORALS at all about separating people from their money. I'll admit I floated him a "loan" so he could take an online class once. All I could verify he had done was to play online poker! He said he got an "A", though.

Caren Crane said...

Deb, I can't imagine sending a child off to Basic or boot camp! My husband was in the Marines and the Air Force, so his poor mother got to do that twice. He says Parris Island was far worse than the Air Force basic training. I believe him!

You've also confirmed my fears about the growing piles of "essentials". I'm afraid that by the time we have to move my daughter home at Christmas, we'll need a U-Haul!

Actually, I saw some parents pulling small trailers behind the car. I was glad we had the minivan! It just better last the next 5 years. :)

Caren Crane said...

Kate, I'll confess that she had a minor medical incident the other day - completely self-inflicted - that made me feel a bit more needed. Monday, while we were on vacation, she got stung by jellyfish on both legs, front/back/top/bottom. Now, jellyfish stings take a good ten days or so to resolve.

But, because she was trying to be cute for school, she decided to SHAVE HER LEGS in the shower Friday night. Of course, heat re-inflames the stings and then she scraped them all with the razor. Needless to say, the hydrocortisone did not help and, by Saturday morning, her legs were in bad shape. She went to the Student Health Center (without any prompting!), where they wrote her a 'scrip for prednisone.

So, when I went to visit on Saturday, I also got to take her a massive box of Benadryl AND take her 'scrip to get it filled at a local pharmacy. Of course, as soon as she had the drugs (and the cookies I bought her), I got The Hand again.

When I called her today to see how the swelling was, I got, "Okay, well, we're going on a scavenger hunt for our classrooms now. I'll talk to you later!"

So much for being needed. :)

Caren Crane said...

Gannon, I think it's easier when you have other kids at home to keep your brain occupied. Was your son more than ready for you to be gone? I think if our daughter could have managed to loft her bed by herself, we wouldn't have gotten to stay at all! :)