First Day At School


I spent the whole summer trying not to think about school. We ditched our usual discipline and slept in until lunch time if we could, lounged about in or near the pool, tossed our list of summer goals right after we wrote them down, and did our best to play and rest. I really needed it, and no one else complained. 

This is way out of the norm for me. Usually I get a charge out of checking things off my list. (Lists.) But I felt worn out. 

I put off our homeschool evaluations until mid-August, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when she peered over her reading glasses and asked me, “Are you ready for David to go to college?”

“No,” I said. “I have purposely not thought about it all summer.”

“Hmmm,” she said knowingly, nodding as she flipped through David’s portfolio. “Denial is a real thing.” Then she looked me in the eye, and I had to face the truth, with two weeks to get ready. 

So I went to Sam’s and bought school supplies and added redundant things from around the house to the pile of household goods David's grandma gave him. I searched our local thrift shops and found a second hand night stand, and a beautiful set of Currier and Ives plates with lithographed ships on them for $2 apiece. Instead of being thrilled, I felt deflated. The more items I checked off his college list, the closer I got to basketcase status. 

I felt like a cup filled to the brim, emotions sloshing around inside and spilling down my face at the slightest provocation. On Thursday I called my mother for advice and support, since she has been through this already. She told me to stay busy to keep my mind off my loss and also informed me that I am getting old. By Friday, I had to hide under the covers to cope, but by that time I was done shopping anyway. 

So we drove to Orlando on Saturday and to keep busy I tried to read a book, but really prayed for no rain after a solid month of rain, no traffic and a good parking spot on move in day, and minimal crowds in the residence hall. God granted every one of those requests. It didn’t rain until we drove home after dinner. We found a corner parking spot on the first floor of the parking garage, as close to the building as physically possible, and easy to maneuver the bus into. Inside the building a handful of people milled around, apparently waiting for something to do. David walked right up, got his key, and we set off down the empty hall toward his apartment. I could have prayed for bigger things than parking spaces, but I have spent years doing that. God knows.

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We met his three roommates and one set of parents. The young men are all future engineers, which should provide hours of facinating conversation. They immediately established who plans to build the targets and who will make the weapons. Then they moved on to favorite video games. 

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Since I hurt my back a week ago pulling jungle weeds out of my garden (proving that my mother is right about me getting old) I stayed upstairs with David, while Mike organized trips to the van to deliver all his earthly goods. David put his clothes away and helped me make his bed. As I fluffed up his pillows I thought this is probably the only time his bed will ever be made. 

(Doesn’t the nightstand look like it came with the room? This does give me a little thrill, after all.)

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Grace walked in and stared at the school supplies piled on his desk. Her fingers began to twitch. When David left the room to put his plates away, we couldn’t help ourselves. We pounced on the pencils and post-it notes and organized his desk in a matter of seconds. Then we simultaneously took deep cleansing breaths and admitted we might have a few OCD tendencies. But it comes in handy sometimes!

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He didn’t hold it against us, but I did aggravate him when I dragged him to Home Depot to buy light bulbs and curtains to hide his closet area and add a bit of color to the blank room. I needed his room to look like a home instead of a cell. Light bulbs he agreed are neccessities, but curtains he thought were negotiable. Not to me. Tell me this doesn’t look better and cozier.

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I had planned to hang curtains over his window, but the room was not like the one we saw on our tour and in the end, it didn’t work out. If the room had been built like the model, it would have been perfect. Mike, who knows better than to get into it with me about curtains, and who should know by now that he can’t visualize curtains, kept asking doubtful confused questions about this last week. This was during the emotional difficulties, and I finally turned to him and confessed, “Everything you say is getting on my last nerve. Can you please stop talking to me until I can get my self control and be nice?”

He said, “Uh, yes. I could tell you were annoyed...” And then he remembered something else he knows about me. “When was the last time you had something to eat?” he kindly asked. And he fed me, and that fixed my nerves. 

Again, lunch to the rescue. I gave up on the window, for now, and David gave in to the closet curtain after some Chinese food. My fortune cookie was encouraging, but I am not sure if I was the one who was supposed to get this one. 

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David complained about curtain shopping, but he was glad I found a way to hang a few family pictures on his bare walls. I wanted him to feel that we were not so far away.

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Several times, tears brimmed over and finally I patted a spot next to me on the bed and told him to come here. He let me hold him as if he was still small and he hugged me back. I told him I loved him, I was proud of him, and I knew he would do well.

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We decided an occasion such as this merited ice cream for dinner, and that made everyone happy. The little ones became so giddy that they laughed for two hours straight, all the way home.

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I was surprised to feel peaceful as we drove away. The inner wobbliness just lifted and evaporated. The next day someone commented, “That was God’s grace on you.” As we drove homeward, it began to sprinkle, and as we recognised the landscape near our town we saw a double rainbow.

The faculty advised us to give our college student some space and let him be the first to call or text. David made it easy on us, texting a picture of the Link Up party he and his roommates went to not thirty minutes after we left. We have had a steady stream of texts since then, and several more pictures. 

He is a sweet boy. Loving. And helpful.

I’m going to figure out those curtains by Thanksgiving, but the rest of us are not going to think about school until next week. I don’t think I’ll have any problem keeping myself busy.

© Being Fruitful, 2012