One of my college kids called me the other night. Well actually she text-ed me. Because that is what kids do today. When they have a complex question that involves a response that could exceed 100 words, they of course text. My standard response when this happens…”call me”.
So the phone call shortly arrived. The whole purpose for this communication involved a certain movie streaming application that her new television came with last summer. She has been enjoying this application with no charge associated. She thought Dad had set it up but I had not. So, all I can figure is there was some type of free introductory period. The freebie had now ended and daughter was hoping that Dad would either provide his log in to this program, or a credit card so this right of college life could continue.
Matters like this are better not to hit me with at 10pm at night. I understand just enough about business to know that no company has set up a video streaming app that all one person needs to do is share their password with their college student and pretty soon an entire dorm is streaming movies on your account. I was not entirely sure how the business model worked, and daughter swore she would keep my login secret (I really believe she would do her best to keep it secret), but I was not buying it. I enjoy the service, we use it at home, and the last thing I wanted was to get our home blocked because my password was also being used at a college campus not exactly in the same location as my home. I thought maybe there was a usage model that might solve this issue but as my tired head tried to figure out a solution at the company’s website, the solution hit me.
The solution was so obvious frankly I got a little upset at myself for not having immediately thought of this. Our goal is for our kids to come out of college debt-free. So, we cover tuition, room and board and books. Social items are on the kids so they need to work whenever they can to pay for their social and entertainment. Same program I was on with my parents and I am forever thankful to them for not forcing me into the world of student loans. I was not handing over my log in information, so this problem was not mine. Clearly an entertainment issue…this was daughter’s to decide. Plus in my research I found out the cost of an unlimited plan was less than two grande lattes at Starbucks! We know how often college kids make that pit stop! (To daughter’s credit, she called me later and apologized for expecting me to handle this expense-much appreciated.)
Which brings me to the end of the story but I just could not stop thinking about this. What a world we live in! For $8 a month, you can have unlimited movies streaming into your college room. My first memory was that we had a small black and white TV in my college room and we hardly could watch it through the snow on the screen as we strained to pick up stations 75 miles away! We did buy record albums (kids-ask your parents what they are) and I remember those being about $6 each. One album with 40 minutes of music, 35 years ago, cost more than the limited plan for the movie streaming application! If they sold albums today they probably would be $15! College kids in the 70’s collected record albums like the Harbaugh family collects coaching victories. Our kids have no idea how great life is for them.
Of course, I sure hope they find some time to study!
It seems like just the other day I lamented about the change in our lives brought on by the return of our two college students. We have experienced this migration and disruption for several years now. The expected total change in lifestyle took place through the summer, but with a little more calm. I guess that is part of the kids being 21 and having jobs and maybe finding they enjoy mornings more? Not sure…but as the summer has gone on we have had to start to see our lives change even more significantly. Our two 18 year olds would also be leaving. One to Purdue. The other had a decision to make. He is our hockey goalie and despite my ranting and raving about the world of hockey when kids reach this age…it didn’t change anything. He wants to play in college and the colleges like the players to spend an extra year in what is called Juniors. Tryouts ensued and as the summer rolled on it became clear that his selection, and the best choice for his development as a hockey player and young man, was 2300 miles away in a place we have never been..Medford Oregon.
How do you move a soon to be 19 year old boy across the country? We spent the summer on that one. Fortunately we discovered that he qualified for on- line classes from Indiana University. We really wanted him to not just sleep and play hockey. Starting his college classes and having the most flexibility for the future was our goal. Being the partisan that I am I must brag… Indiana University offered the solution. So we can officially also now say we have four in college! Bragging rights is what this game is all about! Look..we are much more broke than you are!
So, three at Purdue and one going to Indiana University while living in Oregon! While I am not sure this fully qualifies that I finally got one of my kids to go to my school, at least for a semester, I can feel a little better about how the college savings flow. If you know anybody who has saved enough to have four kids in college in the same year they have likely either 1. inherited wealth, 2. won the lottery, or 3. sacrificed for years. We fall under #3. Maybe this helps a little more to explain my conservatism? Not an excuse…but a lifestyle choice.
So, the point today is that 30 minutes ago, our son and my wife hopped in his Chevy Silverado to make the trek across country. My first observation is thank goodness he is a boy. He is able to move himself and make decisions I have never seen our girls make. Travel light. I carried Jennifer’s suitcase downstairs and realized she would pay the suitcase up-charge if she was flying. She took up 25% of his cargo space and she flies back in a week! He was lighthearted about it. He knows his Mom and had saved plenty of room in the covered truck bed for her (suitcase that is)! Our 8 year old son said his goodbyes and I know I was about to lose it. I hugged our hockey player/IU student and told him I am proud of him. I do not believe I could have ever made the decision he made at his age. As Mom and I said our goodbyes, her face full of tears, I realized just how hard this was going to be for her. Not the three day drive, but leaving her baby boy so far from home. This is not a one hour drive to Purdue!
On Thursday I will have a U Haul truck loaded up to deliver the rest of our girls to Purdue. When I return it will be the 8 year old and me until Mom comes home. Then it will be just three of us in a house that is now too large for three, but needs to be able to accommodate seven. The kids do migrate home. Then they fly the coop again. It is a stage of life. One between needs and support, and total independence. It is a time of growth and excitement, and a heart tug that can’t be described unless you are a parent experiencing it. The birds have flown from the nest again. It is quiet.
For some reason, I am sad.
OK..I know I am ahead of myself a little bit. It feels like summer. Warm air, thunderstorms, baseball and the return of the migrating college student. It is the return of the college student that annually turns us to anticipation of how much our home life will change over the next few months. Excuse me if the migration to our home is different than yours. I have discussed this with enough parents I doubt it.
The migration patterns of a college student are forced on them by the institutions that take so much of our money to provide training that will enable them to survive in society. The training only goes so far. The migrating college student often seems to not realize the differences in the world outside academia. The strange part is unless forced behavior patterns are introduced they will not recognize that outside their institutions the world does not include sleep until noon, proceeded by many hours of reality TV, and finally mass socialization events starting at 11pm. For these reasons, the annual summer migration pattern where these cocoons of academia no longer provide protection of this lifestyle, create a level of stress on the homes where the migration occurs.
Starting today, we expect the return of our first college student. Both of our students already have made their presence felt by convincing their brother to come to school over the weekend and provide use of his truck to bring to our home most personal possessions and furnishings. Of course, with no thought of where these items would be deposited, the brother and I spent Sunday afternoon carrying things to storage and upstairs to bedrooms in preparation for the migration. Why do we have to handle the migration and all of its baggage also? The migration is like taking a business trip, where when you reach your hotel you find your favorite big screen TV, chair, couch and reading materials. Not to mention a full wardrobe of clothing that most likely has hardly been touched (but was needed just in case)!
For months we have enjoyed a lifestyle that includes sleeping through the night at what most of us consider normal hours. Beginning tonight, I can almost hear the TV’s blaring through our home at 1am, waking me up to the sound of Jersey Shore reruns. Not to mention that I am accustomed to getting out of bed and not worrying about the bodies deposited on couches throughout the home. Did I mention the food consumption and lack of parking? Or finding myself blocked into our driveway by multiple vehicles when trying to leave to go to the office?
My wife and children consider my attitude about this migration a sign of my senility. They may be right. I am increasingly a creature of habit. Just like nature, the migration affects my habits and it causes conflict. The good news? Jobs! Yes, get the student employed quickly in a job where they work eight hours and are tired by late evening! This seems to make a huge difference in the adaptation of the student to it’s new environment. If they can’t find one, create one for them! You are not running college housing and the migration needs to include a rapid adaptation program to the lifestyle of the remainder of the home. Unless you also have high school students who will be out of school in a month. At that point all you can do is plan vacations and disrupt the patterns.
True, we love having our kids back home. It is the adaptation process that is a true test of our patience and now a part of our recognition of summer. I think I now understand the real reason people purchase summer homes!
In February, I had two daughters turn 21. Last year, my other daughter turned 18. All three are in various stages of their dating lives. I realize I might have a little bit of influence, but mostly at this point it is up to the girls to make decisions about their lives that turn out to be good ones. That statement is a mouthful because how many of us as adults have always made good decisions? I think as an adult we have some ability to at least acknowledge the bad decisions and dissect where they went wrong. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to always recognize a bad decision before you make one?
When it comes to my daughters and their relationships, I came across this over the weekend. The writer is unknown. It is wisdom that I think comes across well in the written word instead of the dad lecture. Maybe you will find value in this no matter if you are a Dad, Mom, or a Daughter.
When you start to have a relationship with a boy, you want him to act like a man. If you are in a relationship with a man, you don’t want him to act like a boy. What is the difference?
A boy will flatter you. A man will compliment you.
A boy will spend money on you. A man will invest in you.
A boy will view you as property. A man will view you properly.
A boy will lust after you. A man will love you.
A boy is someone who believes he’s God’s gift to women. A man remembers woman was God’s gift to man.
I want my girls to look for and recognize the difference in a boy and a man. I also want to teach my sons to be a man. I realize that involves a lot more than being a good sportsman, or not being a slob. Sometimes with boys we forget the important things when it involves girls. Maybe this will help.
The last time I wrote about animals it involved the passing to doggy heaven of our long time family dog. Jake. After Jake was no longer with us (known by me as AJ-after Jake), we cleaned up and threw away a lot of things that really had no use anymore with no Jake. My wife invested in a thorough carpet cleaning and our home was shining! It was nice to come home and not worry about a dog. Plus, did I mention how clean our home was?
I was getting use to this new AJ lifestyle. Things seemed a little calmer without a dog…and that was OK. I was starting to realize how much the care Jake required, over the last year of his life, had just really tired me out. Thirty days and it just seemed like I was getting into a nice routine and guess what?
I think most of the people that work in our office heard me say, several times, “No” when Jennifer stopped by and asked. She had placed her name on a list for a rescue dog service and preferenced labradoodles. That was Wednesday. On Friday they are calling her and she is asking me about another dog. If you have ever lived in this moment, you know the feelings of guilt combined with selfishness. “Do I want to see a picture?” Uh no, I just want to get back to work and pretend this moment is not occurring.
So, you know what happened next. What choice did I have? Plus, it was like buying one of those products on late night television. “No risk- guaranteed!” I won’t have to do anything. Jennifer will make sure the puppy has all it needs and is trained and lots of promises that are impossible with puppies. But, she has a big heart and it is not fair of me to squelch that.
So, by Sunday, the very short lived period of clean, quiet and relaxing days had ended. Just like that. Maybe it is a result of raising five kids. We know nothing us but chaos in our home. With the older kids off at college and not far from being off the payroll, maybe a Mom just needs something to replace the lost madness?
I chuckle at the money she spent on carpet cleaning the week before as we discover “Buddy” came to us with a stomach bug. What did she expect for a dog pulled from a dumpster? The chuckling ended though when I was left with him, and despite all my efforts to make a trip outside every 15 minutes, I end up with two carpet disasters. As I clean up, I am mumbling to myself about why I did not want another dog.
Joey (our soon to be 8 year old) is similar to an only child because of the hers, mine and ours status of our children. Of course, I am told Buddy will be Joey’s best friend. I think Joey would love that but Buddy just sees somebody almost his size that he can jump on and test out his little baby teeth. Joey is trying very hard to keep his patience but he has his limits. Tonight, after Buddy cleared two pieces of furniture in pursuit of Joey, who was trying to work on homework, I noticed quiet. Between raising kids and having two other dogs I have trained, quiet (except in the middle of the night) is a concern. So I start trying to find the ball of white fur. Nowhere to be found. I ask Joey if he has seen Buddy. He informs me, “oh yea” so I ask the next logical question.
“In his crate.”
“He will leave me alone then.”
So “Buddy Prison” is officially in business. And it is our youngest one who figured out how to bring sanity back to our home when needed!
Feel free to come meet Buddy. We will post visitation hours for the Prison. He likely will be in serving time.