A New Hope

           It has been one week at CSU for the new college student, so we dare not celebrate prematurely. We have several promising developments. First, and I mean it is the first time ever, he has set an alarm and drug himself out of bed for two of the three days of 8am classes. Considering his summer vampire schedule, it is an incredible feat to see this human-being emerge from his coffin. I feel compelled to sprinkle holy water, grab a crucifix and chew on a garlic clove in support of this transformation.          

            You may be wondering why it took until college for this new alarm clock muscle to flex. Was it us, him? My response is there is virtually nothing you can force upon an oppositional defiant, professional procrastinator. Every change he makes must be his idea and on his timeline. Crying, pleading, threatening, bribing and natural consequences do not move the needle. We have driven ourselves mad for years trying to grapple with why we still argue about brushing your teeth, setting your alarm, turning assignments in on time, putting dirty clothes in the laundry room (we’ll even wash the @#$@##$# clothes). Little brother has watched and learned. He’s up at 6am, showering and pestering dad to hurry, so he can get to school early to hang out with friends. Can I get a hallelujah!

            This past week’s communication has centered around when will his car be fixed and can he buy, not one, but two pair of sneakers? Us responding with “in a few weeks, no and why is there a Tinder charge on dad’s credit card?” The other slight, but meaningful change is hearing him talk about how he doesn’t want to deposit his last paycheck, so he won’t spend it and that he’s going to get a job after he’s settled with school. All contradicted by his comment of “just take the $8 out of my account for the Tinder charge.” Why does any guy living in a co-ed dorm need a dating app? Based on the endless stream of girls wearing Lululemon yoga tights and half tops rotating through our basement during high school, there doesn’t appear to be a supply chain issue.

            Now for the piece de resistance of the story. Every year the high school gives students a planner. Every year he either lost it or tossed it in the trash within the first week. Never a note taken or a serious thought of using this powerful tool. With teary eyes, I would like to report that today I received a text video of him paging through his newly purchased CSU Planner including his class notes. His video was titled, “Peep dis shit.” My reply, “Omg..a planner in use. I’m so happy I could cry.”  His reply, “Shits tuff.”  For all my nerdy Star Wars friends and family, we have A New Hope of the Jedi variety.

Ramen Noodle Summer

          WTF just happened? The family sprinted through spring lacrosse and high school graduation, then hopped a plane to Kauai with our +1 teen BFF guest, before the youngest was even done with the last week of 7th grade. The trip was fabulous, yet frustrating. First, the amazing parts. The condo had an ocean view, air conditioning and all the extras we imagined. The weather was perfect, delivering huge waves to exhaust the teens as they tried to unsuccessfully conquer the ocean. It gave me great satisfaction to watch the waves pound all three boys into the sand over-and-over. The longer it took each of them to recover, the more I enjoyed it…insert evil laugh.

            Within the first few days, the two new graduates met the college girls down the road. How incredibly annoying for the rest of us as they either stumbled in at 2am or called for a ride home, while the middle-schooler is camped on our bedroom floor. We clearly have lost control of our vacation. We tried to remind ourselves that someday, we will look back on this special time and only remember the good moments. I think, I’ll just remember spending three weeks trying to get the 18-year-old’s wallet back from United, because he left it on the plane when we landed in Denver. His wallet flew back to Kauai alone for another two weeks. Oh, to be that wallet…I was so jealous.

            Now we move right into CSU orientation, without a wallet, so no ability to get his university ID. Fortunately, he found three roommates which saved him from the random assignment we were all dreading. Things were finally falling into place, so I naively start to relax. After all, we made it through the hard part, right? Nope. This is just the beginning of the revolving door of co-eds, with an emphasis on the herd of girls, crashing our basement at all hours, interrupting our already unpeaceful sleep. If it wasn’t the giggling girls, it was the guy’s late-night cooking after too much cheap beer.

            Waking up to dirty pots and bowls, still filled with left-over Ramen noodles, was a daily ritual. We could estimate the number of bodies in the basement based on the sneakers neatly lined up at the top of the stairs. Despite all this, we always welcomed the core group of guys. They were an inseparable pack. While our teen was a chronic slob, his future Marine friend, would always fold the blankets and leave things in an orderly fashion. The others were not as diligent. Someone left the noodle bowl on the floor. The best punishment, and highlight of my day, was watching our teen wipe up the 4×3 foot pool of noodle-laced dog vomit.

            Back to the giggling girls. We have officially lost control of our basement and our noodles. Dad had a genius, although risky idea. He’s moving into the basement bedroom to interrupt the nightly debauchery.  His repeated warnings were not taken seriously, until the first night. Imagine teen, plus friends, arriving to find dad true to his word. He shines his phone flashlight in dad’s eyes and drops multiple expletives and promptly exits until 2pm later that day. He returns, announcing that “I’m leaving,” as he throws dirty clothes in his backpack. I ask him where he’s going and when he’ll be back. I guess it isn’t running away if he actually gives you an answer. I remind him, “don’t forget your toothbrush.”

            Fast forward two days, and I receive back-back calls from him. This can only be unwelcome news because I know he’d only be calling out of desperation. Indeed, his car is stuck in third gear in the Target parking lot, and he needs a tow. Long story short, he came home, and his transmission is ruined largely due to him jamming it into 2nd and 3rd gear. What an incredibly expensive “I told you so,” lesson he learned mostly on our dime. After forfeiting much of his high school graduation money and tips from work, he is carless for eight weeks. CSU move-in day was successful, but not having his car is like leaving a limb behind. It only took 12 hours for him to lose his room key, so his only communication home thus far has been, “where can I get another key?”

            In one more year, we get to rinse and repeat high school. We have learned a lot, much to the chagrin of younger brother. We will be ready for 2.0.