Our oldest is off to college in a few days, and I thought I’d share this handy timeline on how to prepare for this upcoming event.
3 months out: Rent a storage unit to house and hoard your billboard-sized Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons for dorm shopping later.
2 months out: Get a tattoo with the words, “I know we didn’t do it like this when I went to college.” Sure, sounds painful but repeating that phrase a bajillion times is far more so.
6 weeks: Begin your To-Go pile. This is a pile of all of the stuff that’s going to be packed up for college. Mostly this heap will consist of Command Strips, phone chargers, and gift cards.
1 month: Start dorm shopping. If you have a girl, this will entail thousands of dollars, hundreds of stores and dozens of Pinterest boards. If you have a boy, just stop by a military surplus store for standard issue barracks bedding, and you’re all set.
3 weeks out: Explain what shower shoes and a caddy is and why it’s needed. Related: consider iodine soap.
2 weeks: Have a cooking lesson. And a laundry lesson. And cleaning.
1 week, 6 days: Up the meal plan, buy disposable underwear and get immunizations up to date.
1 week out: Buy stamps. Then realize it’s 2014 and your child probably has no concept of the U.S. Postal Service and considers that black box on the front curb as the pole where we tie balloons when there’s a party.
The night before: Try to compose a letter to your child for him to open after you leave. It should of course convey how much you love him and how much you’ll miss him, but if possible try to describe the impossible thoughts that don’t fit into standard word form. The complete and utter awe of who they have become, and who they are still yet to be, and somehow you were lucky enough to be a participating witness to that miracle. Explain that there were moments when they were younger your mind would look to this day, but never did you think the thing you wanted for them most could hurt quite this much. That while your head is swelling with the pride you feel from achieving this milestone, your heart is breaking at the same rate. Not out of sadness, but from the wisdom and life experience to know it’s always harder for the one left on the pier waving goodbye as the other departs for the journey of a lifetime.
The day of: Unpack, set up—take a picture of the decorated, organized room because it will never look like that again.
Paste on the biggest smile, swallow the lump, blink back the tears and try not to break his ribs when hugging him.
Fall apart when safely away from the pier.
©2014 Tracey Henry