Aside from Cheetos’ stained fingers and a slight stink emanating from his overgrown head full of (greasy) hair, I can most assuredly tell you, when he enveloped me in one of his patented hugs, I felt complete again. It was as if a part of me had been missing this last month. Of course, much of this is true, considering, while at college, the boy had been aloof, completely detached from his parents and not really caring that we were curious about his classes and dorm life. Leading up to our first visit, my husband and I shared several conversations concerning his short college career thus far…
“I never thought I would internalize his new life (away from us) as a stressor for me,” I told my husband and he concurred, “Who would have thunk this kid held so much worry for us?” He added. “Who would have thought, considering how much this boy likes to hear himself talk, he could be so quiet?” I replied and we both grunted in unison. “Well, now we know, we need to force the issue and get him a phone, instead of relying on his iPod,” My husband confirmed as we agreed to terms on a new cellphone plan.
The first thing we did as a family was to drive to the nearest Walmart and send him immediately to the bathroom to wash his face and hands. Then we spent the next few hours replenishing his supply needs, getting him a haircut, a couple pairs of shoes and lunch, not to mention catching up on how well school was going for him. “I’m tired all the time, they keep us so busy…” he relayed. “How’s the job hunt?” I asked. “I didn’t get one job as an assistant in the theater department, but I’m waiting to hear back on the other two,” He replied. “Bay, you need to make an effort. Stop in the office and remind them you put in an application. Keep your mind fresh in theirs,” I tried to reinforce and he thanked me for the good ideas.
“Have you taken advantage of the Rec center and gone swimming?” His father asked. “Not yet…” Bay replied and then offered his plausible explanation why. “There are days I’m laying in bed and think, ‘I should go swimming…’ but then I realize, I have to walk down three flights of stairs, followed by a walk down a very steep hill, only to walk up another steep hill to get to the Rec center. Then I’d have to do the whole thing over again to come back and I’m exhausted just considering the idea”.
Yes, that’s my bay!
Shortly before we left for home, he showed me his grades, acquiesced and took responsibility for why he was struggling in one class. “This is my fault. I keep forgetting to bring the right materials to class, but I’m working with the teacher to rectify this and am confident I’ll get the grades up by the end of the semester,” he said. “You do that…write notes to yourself if necessary…” I said and he smiled, “That’s what my counselor told me to do as well…” Nice to know we are all on the same page–I thought.
He also made a point of introducing us to his new friends (who he mobilized to help carry up his groceries, so we wouldn’t have to) and told us about the different clubs and organizations he had joined. But, when the time came to leave, we exchanged hugs and well wishes, turned and exited his room. I stood there for a moment, expecting the boy to accompany us to the dorm lobby, to see us off. Instead, his door remained closed. Looking at my husband I said, “Well, the more things change, the more they remain the same.”
Which prompted all three of us to quietly nod in affirmation.