Life Deconstructed: ‘Mountaineers go first’ …but late, if you’re my kid

Life Deconstructed - Maria Jiunta Heck

Well, another one flew over — and out of — the cuckoo’s nest. Eventually, higher education always beckons.

My youngest son was planning to attend college locally for one year, and off to Main Campus for three years.

That was our plan.

That’s why I wasn’t panicking all summer, because he would be, sort of, still within my eyesight. Practically in my backyard!

That was our plan.

But, plans change. Plans get obliterated. He suddenly decided (two weeks before classes begin), he no longer wished to attend this school. He, instead, wanted to attend West Virginia University, which is five hours away.

It may as well be in Beirut.

His father and I want him to have the same college experience we had, which is to say, fun comes first, education comes second. Wait, that’s backwards, right? I always get that wrong. Which explains why I needed a tutor for Econ 101.

So, because we sort of want him to have a phenomenal four years, we lost deposits, we clenched, we begged, we prayed, we lost deposits and, miraculously, through the kindness of the higher powers of admissions at West Virginia University, he was admitted tardy to the party.

This gave me zero time to wring my hands and wail. I only had a week to dramatically sniffle and whimper and it just didn’t pack the same pitiful punch. I bet he did this purposely, just to short-circuit my goodbye histrionics.

Because we had to hurriedly get him situated, I had little time to unearth essential crap from the landfill that is his room. I used an online campus list of essentials to guide me. I read that list and laughed and laughed, and laughed some more. Was I sending him to college or to a “dee-luxe apartment in the sky?”

1. First aid kit: That would be necessary, I guess, for a normal student. But my kids are wrestlers and bleed as much as they breathe, so they have perfected the paper towel and Scotch tape method of wound care and ringworm cessation. No first aid kit.

2. Space bags: Hahahahahaaa! Can you imagine our sons taking a vacuum cleaner to school for the sole purpose of deflating and inflating space bags filled with … beer cans? Frisbees? Hacky Sacks? What? So stupid.

3. A Keurig: I don’t even have a Keurig! He will take Sanka, use hot tap water to dilute it and a ruler to stir it up and he’ll chug it before his 8 a.m. class, just like his ancestors did before him.

I threw that list in the garbage, on top of his useless PSU class schedule.

List or no list, he’ll be soaring solo to navigate the maze and hills that are bucolic West Virginia University. I’m worried, because I don’t think I’ve prepared him well for this phase of life. I mean, he was trying to activate his ATM card the other day and asked me what the pound key looked like!


He said, “Ohhh … then what’s this one?” I deflated. “That’s an asterisk, son. Don’t worry. You’ll do just fine in a college-level physics class.”

Despite these hiccups, I know, in this journey, he will flourish. It was a smart move. He just called to tell me that, although he’s only been there four days, he’s met some of the nicest people he’s ever met in his life.

I have a good feeling about this.

WVU has a good feeling about it.

I’m a fan.

Now, if he can just figure out how to write a check.

Life Deconstructed

Maria Jiunta Heck

Maria Jiunta Heck of West Pittston is a mother of three and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life. Send Maria an email at

Maria Jiunta Heck of West Pittston is a mother of three and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life. Send Maria an email at

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