Another one’s about to bite the parental dust. My youngest spawn is a high school senior and has been ready to take flight, or bus, or U-Haul for about 180 days. Yes, he was admitted to his first choice, PSU, a family favorite, but no, not Main Campus. He was admitted to our local campus, although we know not why, since his SAT scores and GPA were adequate, his extra-curricular activities were impressive and his essay was nearly perfect.
I’m not sure what more he could’ve done to secure a place in the freshman class of PSU Main Campus, other than being nicer to his mother. He’s so sure he wants to move away from the only home he has ever known that he’s chosen not to attend the branch campus, but go all cattywampus and perhaps attend West Virginia University, instead. He thinks he wants to be away from me. It’s all fun and games, until they call Mama whining about their first long-distance sore throat, or a load of pink laundry, or to ask how to mail a letter, when all they really want to say is they miss me.
Oh, my last child, the baby of mi famiglia — so much to learn!
1. Introduce yourself to Ramen noodles. They will be your best friend. Remember your mother’s homemade chicken soup that you made fun of because she uses gizzards? Goodbye. Also, enjoy the Spaghetti-Os. Those meatballs are not made from the family recipe, using a secret blend of veal, pork and beef. They are made from sawdust and horse tongues. Mama’s homemade Sunday “S’ghets”? Goodbye.
2. Eventually, laundry must be done. More than once every six weeks. By yourself. This will be difficult for you because I’m not certain you have any knowledge of what a Bounce sheet is actually used for; except to provide a fresh scent emanating from your nether regions when one is accidentally left in your underwear. That nicely stacked pile of folded clothes, separated into categories and ready to wear? Goodbye.
3. No printer? No free printer paper? No ink? That’s sad. In the real world, people pay for such computer accouterments. And so shall you, on campus. Be sure to wait until the last nano-second before beginning an essay and stay up all night trying to print it. Remember when the printer malfunctioned and your mother fixed it and delivered your essay to school in time for the class in question? Goodbye.
4. Beware of the red Solo cup. You’ll want to drink endlessly from it at any event in and around a dorm room. Especially female dorm rooms. When you realize you shouldn’t have kept going back to the well to refill, it will be too late. Remember when your mother would hold your forehead when you up-chucked? Remember the washcloths and the tepid ginger ale? Remember the love and concern and cool hands on your forehead? Goodbye.
5. When you are at school for about a month and you realize that little tug in your soul is homesickness and not a hangover, call your mother and tell her you love her and you miss her. She will be waiting. She will tell you to separate your reds from your whites and keep ginger ale in your little refrigerator at all times. She won’t send you chicken soup with gizzards but she will send you her unfailing and multi-state-wide net of love. And, she will never say goodbye.
Maria Jiunta Heck of West Pittston is a mother of three, a librarian and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life.