Mará Rose Williams: My son solved the costly college books dilemma; call me proud

Mara Rose Williams, with Jordan and Trey
Mara Rose Williams, with Jordan and Trey The Kansas City Star

I’m sure I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: Sometimes kids will surprise the heck out of you, step up and handle a tough situation with the utmost maturity.

My baby — OK he’s 19, but you know what I mean — took on a challenge the other day and saved me from feeling inadequate as a parent.

He started his second semester of classes at Vanderbilt without books. His plan was to see what books he could do without rather than buy books just because the professor listed them. In case you haven’t heard, college textbooks are exorbitant.

Jordan told me that in his previous semester, he spent nearly $1,000 for books he only cracked once or twice, others not at all. Trust me, it wasn’t because Jordan wasn’t studying. He is definitely a studier, and he got A’s and B’s, so I figure he was doing what was required.

What ticked him off was that when he went to sell the overpriced books back to the bookstore at the end of the semester, he only got back a mere fraction of what he had paid. And that’s for books never opened, virtually brand-new. He’d hoped that he would get enough money back to buy a few books for this semester, but it wasn’t enough to buy even half a book.

So there he was, in class, no books and thinking that he probably would not need to spend so much this semester. Turns out, he was going to need to buy books for at least three of his five classes. The crazy freshman is taking 18 credit hours.

He sent me the list and the price tag — hundreds of dollars I didn’t have. My stomach drew into knots. How was I going to pull this off?

I felt it was my responsibility to cover the cost of books. After all, he’d worked so hard to get a scholarship and was doing so well, even working a little side job to help cover the portion that scholarship didn’t.

“Oh boy, I’ll scrape it together,” I texted to him. A few days went by with me too worried to sleep at night, and I had heard nothing from him. Then it came, via email.

“Don’t you worry mother. I have taken care of the book situation. I shopped around and found some very cheap, online. I talked with my professors and worked out other solutions and some of the material is at the campus library. I’ll just go there and read what I need. I’m good. Save your money, or better yet go buy yourself something nice.”

Phew! What a load off my mind. And, wow! I’m so proud of him for working it out on his own.

Of course you know I didn’t spend that money. I let it ride right where it was in the bank. The next time he needs help, I expect to be able to do my part.

Mará Rose Williams: 816-234-4419, @marawilliamskc