Friday, April 23, 2010

It's All My Fault

As parents we blame our kids for so many things….You forgot to take in your homework. You didn’t make your bed. You left wet towels on the bathroom floor. You left the door unlocked….and the list goes on. But sometimes, sometimes, the blame is all ours, and we have to take responsibility for what has happened – no matter how embarrassing the situation.

Even though our precious bundle is all grown up, it happened again last week. A situation arose and it was my fault. Well, mostly my fault. Ken helped, but I take the blame, or at the very least the responsibility.

It all started when Matthew asked us to stop by to see him at college on our way back from our trip. We had gone to Tennessee for a few days last week and came back through Cincinnati - fortunately just a hop, skip and a jump from Oxford and Miami University. So we stopped by to see Matthew and had quite an experience.

It seemed our offspring had an ulterior motive for our visit (which, in all honesty, he mentioned when he asked us to stop by). Not that he doesn’t love us and all, but gee, it would be great, he informed us, if we could take some “things” back home, since he was so close to the end of the year. And that certainly made perfect sense to us. With only 11 actual school days remaining (yes, he had them counted), we all knew time of his illustrious freshman year was short and he was streamlining tasks, preparing for finals and the end of the school year. Since that also meant moving home, anything that we could take back with us meant that much less he’d need to bring home himself in less than three weeks. It did make sense, and of course we were happy to oblige.

So, we expected to see lots of hoodies and winter coats, boots and the like. And we did. Way too many, as one might expect for a first-year college student. However, nothing prepared us for what else we saw. Drawer after drawer, bin after bin, and container after container were pulled out of his dresser, closet, and from under his bed (I had happily supplied him with lots of organizing containers). In them were items that looked familiar but which had clearly never been used. There were items that we had bought for him, thinking he would use, hoping he would find helpful. These items - which had been intended for good - had been stockpiled, unopened and untouched. Had Y2K been real and happened a decade later, in 2010 - Matthew was ready!

Matthew in his kind and gracious way had thanked us for our generosity as we prepared to send him off to college all those months ago. We bought things for him and insisted he take them “because he might find them useful” or “he’d be so glad he had them,” but clearly he had never needed. In our zest to prepare our first and only child to adequately face the collegiate challenges before him, we must have tried to send any and every possible thing the child could use throughout the year with him. Of course, HE didn’t know what he needed. Clearly, we didn’t either. What I learned on Sunday was that I apparently didn’t need to send extra supplies with every care package. I know this now because I saw enough school supplies and personal hygiene products accumulated in those containers for his entire 3rd floor. You think I’m kidding. (Next year I’ll know when I ask him on those telephone calls and emails if he needs anything and he says, “No, I’m good,” he means it!)

Then there were the other items. There was, for example, what I called the ‘boot butler’ which is a big plastic, cookie sheet-looking thing for putting wet, snowy boots on when you come in out of the cold. Well, it DOES snow in Oxford. It’s Ohio, you know. Apparently it doesn’t snow enough to need a boot butler, tho’. So, it was resting comfortably UNDER the containers holding the OTHER items he didn’t use. For example, there was the ‘flu kit I put together for him, complete with thermometer, masks and chicken noodle soup, among other things. You remember the swine ‘flu scare this past winter, right? Well, a mother can’t be too careful when it comes to caring for her child, you know. So that package was on its way to said university (no doubt along with some post-it notes, mechanical pencils, deodorant and toothpaste, based on the overabundance of those items we saw in the bins, too).

And there were more things. LOTS more things. Way too many to mention. Can’t you see I’m embarrassed enough? And I take the blame. I do. I meant well. And in my defense, all of these items are good. They are just not all necessary – certainly not in the confines of a 11’ x 14’ dorm room for two. Next year he'll know what he needs. He can decide what to take. It might only require one vehicle to get him moved in!

I think back to a year ago at this time, when we were getting supplies together for college. I inquired on Facebook if anyone had a good checklist for college. I was told by a friend, “No such animal exists.” I took that as a personal challenge to create one. A really good one. And I have to say, I’ve developed a pretty conclusive list. It might even be enough to set up housekeeping for a family of four.

Just so you know, it’s not always the kid’s fault. They can’t help who their parents are. Poor things.


The Ski's said...

If you ask me, Matthew is very lucky. : )

Vanessa said...

Thank you, Janeen! It's nice to read that in light of of all this! :)

Lynn said...

Gee Vanessa do you think your need for PLASTIC organizers was inherited. LOL. And the need to keep enough of everything on hand for the world - was that inherited? I think so and it was probably done with all the love your Mother shared with you. We may grow up but we never forget the VALUABLE life skills our Moms taught us.

Vanessa said...

Of course you are right, Lynn. It was from my dear mother that I got so many of these characteristics. To be fair, however, she liked PLASTIC BOWLS WITH LIDS, not necessarily plastic organizing containers. ;-)