Tips on shipping your child off to college this year

August 21, 2012

There are a lot of parents out there walking around with smiles on their faces that are the size of Ohio. Finally, everything they have worked and dreamed for has comes true - sending that firstborn son off to college to acquire all the skills needed to go out and face the challenges of the world.

Or in other words, getting the deadbeat, I mean child, off the couch and into the arms of the ivy-covered higher institution of learning. Forget the fact that the tuition alone will probably force them into living in a box in an alley; parents are desperate. And desperate times call for desperate measures.

The price of college today means for some parents going without a lot of basic things like settling for shoes made out of cardboard and a diet that has only been seen in patients with rickets.

Of course, your biggest challenge in sending that young one off to college is trying to find the kid in the first place. For boys at this age have no concept of time, place or being. The phrase “being on time” is as foreign to them as the idea of putting a dish in the perplexing machine called a dishwasher. Even though he was due home in June, he may still be backpacking in Europe. More than likely, it is not something that exotic; the most logical place to find him is under that mound of unwashed underwear sitting in the middle of his bedroom.

I’m not picking on boys though, because girls have a definite advantage. They have been preparing for college and sorority life ever since kindergarten, when they rolled out that first Valentine Day’s box, covered in pink and white paper lace. Once her name was called and she opened that Valentine’s Day card that read, “Be my little Buckaroo,” signed by her boy neighbor, whose mother held an oven mitt to his head while he filled out his list, that little girl was hooked. Girls will have picked out their window treatments, which match their comforter, that match their stationary that match their picture frames, when they opened that acceptance letter.

Fortunately for the parents, boys going off to college don’t require a lot of stuff. Of course, they believe in decorating their dorm room. Most of the time, you could describe the decorating style as “minimalist.” When there is more than one roommate, there usually is a sitting area that houses one basic couch that has been growing mold and other things out on the front lawn of the school. It’s been a rainy season for the past year, so there might be some vegetation sprouting from the cushions. Then in front of that is a coffee table made entirely of empty beer cans and the end table is a stacked Colonel Sanders Chicken bucket, slightly used.

That is it for furniture. There are several animals residing in the place though, especially the random dog that has been attending college for about eight years. The dog responds only to the name typically known by college animals like Rasta Man or Six Pack. Otherwise it sleeps most of the time, which makes it the perfect fit for the guys.

Okay, so you got the kid in the car and you finally arrive at the institution of higher learning. Don’t worry if it is the right kid because you probably haven’t seen him since May anyway. You’ve been planning this all your life and you will not be denied. Any port in a storm so to speak.

Here now is the cardinal rule that your child will insist upon. Never speak to them, never be seen with them and for heaven’s sake, act like you don’t even know them. Right now they would prefer their fellow students think they were raised by aliens rather than admit they have parents. Well, also it might be the fact you are wearing a shirt and a tie.

Just keep on smiling.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.