Just a few days ago I was sitting at home with a box of Kleenex, desperately missing my first born. Now, everything has changed. I managed to finagle a free 24-hour stopover at his campus during massive business trip. And I am thrilled to report that, other than some disturbing laundry issues, CJ has actually morphed into….a college student.
- THE EXTRA-CURRICULARS: Our emotional reunion started off with a passionate request: "Mom, can you take me and two of my friends to Goodwill to get outfits for tailgate? I think we know how to get there." We never did locate the Goodwill, but the boys put together the perfect fashion statement at Ross Dress for Less – matching silk autumn-motif caftans, beanies, hot pink sunglasses and coordinating belts.
- THE FRIENDS: CJ seemed to know just about everyone on campus and 100% of those that he introduced me to were smart, funny, polite and diverse. Having just read the NY Times piece about how your friends' behavior influences who you become, I felt relieved. CJ has chosen the nicest group to misbehave with.
- THE FOOD: We had lunch in the dining hall, which was really more of an upscale food court, offering Asian, Mexican, Italian, BBQ, vegetarian and salad bar selections. I was about to go for the salad bar, but I could practically see the swine viruses lurking on the tongs. Fortunately there was another soup and salad station, with mushroom barley that truly would have been excellent, had it been warm.
- THE ROOM/ROOMMATE: Yes, CJ's room could have used a thorough vacuuming, but it wasn't nearly as smelly and disgusting as many of the dorms we had seen on our college tour. CJ and his roommate have not become inseparable buddies, but they seemed content to be in the same space…and the two even took on a redecorating project together in my presence. Plus they share a fascinating passion: intramural flag football.
- THE POSTERS: My boy, on his own, has shopped for art! Above his desk was a cool wanna-be lithograph featuring multiple images of a twentieth century turntable…the kind that dominated my own college experience. And the second work CJ purchased also conveyed a powerful retro statement – Directly above his bed is a giant rendering of the mighty "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles".
- THE TECHNOLOGY: Unlike the loving parents we know, we are very mean and thus far have not provided a giant flat-screen television for our son. But his strong survival skills led him to befriend a pair down the hall who have THREE giant flat-screen televisions. (Both students received full scholarships with allowances for purchasing electronics…so they have set up what is, in essence, a sports bar, and the tv-less CJ has become a regular.)
- THE DINNER: It might have been nice to have some alone time with my offspring, but the conversation probably would have focused exclusively on why he hadn't changed his sheets in over a month, and that could have caused our relationship to deteriorate. So, to find out a few details about his new life, I invited FCT (Former Compulsive Texter – remember her from the college tour?…She and CJ have been together since kindergarten and the adventure continues.) Unlike CJ, FCT actually enjoys informing adults about occurences in her life. She had just finished a five-page essay, and in a celebratory mood, was willing to provide anecdotes about everything…except the women in CJ's life (She obviously had been warned).
- THE CLASSES: Mysteriously, although CJ has had a few quizzes and handed in several assignments, NOTHING has yet been graded…But if there were a grade for tailgate attire, my well-adjusted freshman would be #1 on the dean's list.