When my oldest son, Billy, moved into his North Carolina State dorm room in the fall of 2009, his roommate’s mom and I found ourselves in the odd role of being a visitor in our son’s room. We wanted to stay and help organize things, but yet it became clear that the guys wanted us to leave: this was their own turf now. No matter how cool you ever were before at home, no parents —or their advice—are cool at college.
One mistake I made was buying an erasable memo board for Billy to hang outside his door. He pulled it out of the bag and asked, “What’s this for?”
“When I was in college,” I explained, my voice filled with the wisdom of experience, “everybody had memo boards on their door so if someone came by and you weren’t there, then they could write a message that they had stopped by.” I looked over at Billy and realized he was trying to politely suppress his laughter. I was obviously a source of amusement for my child.
“What?” I asked, defensively.
“Mom,” he said, smiling broadly, “now we just text each other.”
“Yeah, but,” I started to reply and then stopped, knowing I had no response. Yep, there had been some advances in technology in almost thirty years. “Well, it was always exciting to come back and see if you had a message on your door,” I told him, defiantly. “You’re missing out.”
“Do you still have the receipt?” he asked.
Yet another mistake I made was on the third day he was there and I’d just completed another merchandise drop from Bed, Bath, & Beyond and Target (By the way, it’s so obvious at these stores which moms have daughters leaving for college and which ones have sons. The ones with daughters actually have their daughters shopping with them and they are discussing towel colors and room décor details, while the ones with sons are by themselves with forlorn expressions and are just buying the bare necessities like towels and a laundry basket.)
Anyway, as Billy was impatiently waiting for me to leave the dorm, I went to the laundry room to see if the washer only took quarters or if it would accept his ATM card. I discovered it would only take quarters or the special all campus card, but not ATM cards. I attempted to share this information with my son, but he cut me off with an “Okay, Mom” and an exasperated glance. I offered him some quarters, but the look got more exasperated. It was time for me to leave.
A few days later, my husband happened to call Billy, who at the time was walking to Hillsborough Street to get quarters since the laundry room wouldn’t take his ATM card; his dormitory office and the student store had no quarters left, due to high student demand for them.. There he was scouring campus for quarters, surely regretting that he’d disregarded good ole Mom’s advice. Ah, sweet validation.