“This shower caddy is not blue. It’s turquoise. Let’s find something else.” That was me, to my son, when my husband and I dragged him dorm shopping.
The time arrived to get our first-born organized for the big leap. I was fretting about the shower caddy. Coping mechanism? No. The shower caddy is IMPORTANT. He will look at it every morning. This one was not blue enough.
Nothing is blue enough. Thread counts are not high enough. Pillows are not firm enough. I am quietly freaking out.
Ten, nine, eight…
Our house is now a launching pad. All dorm necessities are piling up on the guest room bed, which is our staging area. It is the Kennedy Space Center Vehicle Assembly Building of Kansas. The nest I so lovingly built over the past 18 years will now branch off to an unfamiliar satellite.
Seven, six, five…
Have I had enough time to get him ready for the world? He’s a certified smarty pants. But does he know not to wash his red shirt with white towels? Will he remember not to overload electrical sockets? Or to be suspicious of people who are too syrupy sweet? What if he eats chicken that’s a little undercooked? Stay away from pink chicken, kid.
And why did he pick white towels? I wanted him to examine every towel in the bath department. I dreamed of the day we’d spend hours comparing Egyptian cotton and pima cotton, even though I have no idea what pima cotton is. I wanted him to select the perfect texture and absorbency, with a color that would be feng shui enough for morning energy. A slate blue, perhaps?
Instead, he walked up to some bland white towels, threw them in the cart and said, “These are good. Let’s go.” My husband was on his side: “Look. They’re towels. They’ll work. Come on.”
People. These were the first towels we saw. They were end cap towels. This is my son. He’s going to be end-cap-dry all semester, when instead he could be Egyptian cotton dry.
My guys ran off to the sheet section even before I could check if the towels were a polyester blend. They must be 100 percent natural fiber. They must.
All of this shopping came on the heels of freshman orientation. This is the event when they steal your kid to enroll in classes (without me!) while they herd parents into an auditorium to dispense “important information.” Nice trick. I knew what they were doing to my invisible apron strings with their large, invisible scissors. I cautioned him ahead of time: “Do what you can to avoid too many early morning classes. My first semester I was ‘advised’ to take five 7:40 a.m. lectures. Every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I had to trudge across campus for 7:40 attendance. Winter came early that year. Avoid sunrise stuff.”
It turns out my warning bell spared only his Tuesdays and Thursdays. Had I been there, I would have arm-wrestled the enrollment advisers into a perfect schedule until all of us broke a sweat. Then, in my victory lap, I would have dabbed of my forehead with some pima cotton. But it was not to be. We’ve added an atomic alarm clock to the shopping list.
They offered tours of my son’s dorm. He didn’t want to go. There was no way I was missing it. This would be my only clear visual of his future life. I had to know if the windows faced east or west. What was the wall color? Any shelf space? I was spinning around the small quarters, evaluating, evaluating, evaluating. I was checking the mini-blinds, asking the tour guide about mini-fridges, measuring the mini-dresser. In a nutshell, I was embarrassing my son. But in four short weeks, he’ll thank me when his comforter doesn’t clash with the walls.
Wrong. He’ll never notice.
Still, somewhere in the universe, there’s a perfect shower caddy. I will find it.
As in, my own tear ducts.