Off to College he goes!
Long ago and far away it was just me and him. I gave birth to him, loved him, nurtured him and watched him grow into a mind boggling, confusing teenager. We had our ups and downs and our "I wanna tear my hair out" frustrating moments....but as his graduation day from high school approached I found myself digging my heels in like a dog who hates bath day. "I don't think I can go to your graduation, Kev," I said one day after biting my fingernails down to nubs. He eyed me suspiciously, rolled his eyes and walked away. "I'm going to cry like a blubbering idiot and embarrass both of us" I added, hoping that he would give me a "get out of graduation" card. It didn't work.
Graduation day was sunny and hot as hell. His graduation class wasn't big: there were only 17 and he led the pack out of the school and across the lawn. He was dazzling in his blue cap and gown and his oh so cool sunglasses. I watched as he walked, tall and proud, a knowing smirk on his face. A lone bagpiper played the march and cameras clicked. I blew my nose and dabbed at my eyes. I tried not to sob, I really did but when they called his name and he accepted his diploma, I lost it. Dang. But at least I gave it my best shot. Next hurdle: college.
That summer went oh so fast and August quickly made its debut. Each time I walked past his bedroom there were more things packed; bags in the corners piled high while simultaneously things were disappearing around his room. I asked him to keep his door closed so that I couldn't see proof of his leaving, but of course he ignored me so I simply stopped walking by.
Mid-month arrived and so did "the day". I dreaded this more than graduation day but I had my big girl panties on now and knew I HAD to do this. I bravely helped him pack up his car as well as mine. The weather was horrible, pouring down rain and angry wind assaulted our every move. My best friend Mary-Ellen offered to come along and I anxiously accepted....I didn't want to do this alone, so our mini caravan stopped by her house and away we went with Kevin driving the lead car.
Let me say that Kevin drives like he's in the Indy 500 and Mary-Ellen is the worst passenger in the world. Ours was a 6 1/2 hour trip from Portsmouth NH to Syracuse NY and it truly was the ride from hell. My focus was to stay behind my son (Mario). Tractor trailers were flying by at speeds well over the limit and Mary-Ellen was practically hanging from the ceiling of my car: white knuckles and all. And she kept hitting her imaginary brakes, which drove me crazy. I finally turned to her and in my sternest voice said "YOU ARE GOING TO CAUSE AN ACCIDENT IF YOU DON'T CALM DOWN!!!!!" She grew quiet and then said "I can't believe you just yelled at me". Her pout face made me laugh and the rest of the ride was easier. The weather cleared and by the time we got to the campus the sun was shining and all was good.
We found his dorm room and helped him unpack and organize his stuff. He gave us the chore of putting together is Ikea bookshelf and the two of us finally figured it out. We displayed our finished product proudly. The next words out of his mouth sent shock waves through my body. "Thanks mom, you can go now." Period. End of story.
"What?" I asked incredulously.
"Well, I've got things to do now, so you can go." He gave a cursory hug and a quick "I love you" and then shut the door quickly as we exited.
What the hell?! I looked at Mary-Ellen and announced that we were going to check out the campus. I mean, the cafeteria had a buffet of food just waiting for us so off we went. The nice cafeteria lady with the hairnet handed us our trays and then asked the inevitable "where's your student?"
Ok, so I didn't mean to cry if front of all those strangers but I simply couldn't help it. I explained that he kicked us out and she felt so bad that she gave us our food for free.
Our next stop was the bookstore and it was a mob scene. We wandered around looking at all the Syracuse paraphernalia when all of a sudden I eyed my son. "Kevin, hi!" I called out like I hadn't seen him in a month. Our eyes locked and maybe it was just me, but he looked like a deer in headlights. He stood like one too.....very, very still. I ran over to him, dragging Mary-Ellen behind me, and hugged him. "Mom, what are you still doing here? I thought you left".
"Well, we decided to stay awhile and check out the campus!" I said, all smiley faced. I might as well have been a worm in a puddle by the way he looked at me. "But we're going now," I added quickly. Another cursory hug and "I love you" and we hit the road.
"Well, that was awkward," Mary-Ellen said as we climbed into the car.
"Yes it was and it's a good thing there were people around or I would have scratched his eyes out. I can't believe he did that to me."
Our drive home was fairly quiet, the conversation centered around anything but Kevin. I dropped her off around 9 p.m. and before she climbed out she leaned over, hugged me and said "call me if you need me."
"Thanks M, (my nickname for her), but I'll be okay."
I parked the car and walked into my dark house....it didn't feel like "home" anymore with Kevin gone....sat at the kitchen table and cried my eyes out for what seemed like hours. At 10:30 I picked up the phone and dialed her number.
"What took you so long..." was all she said.
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