Well, it's been a couple of weeks. Things are starting to settle down somewhat. The early challenges that kids face in settling into college life have not materialized as of yet. Erin and her roommate appear to get along. She seems to have settled into a routine. We've been very busy sending care packages. I even baked a batch of cookies – and that's a serious Endeavour for me. I'm more of a cook than a baker. Sarah's the baker. Baking is chemistry – which I like but I'm not really a recipe-follower…..
Sarah and I haven't been down to see her yet. We thought about this thing and decided that we would wait a month before we went down. There have been moments of weakness – Sarah was thinking of sneaking down there while I was out of town but I think she's stayed strong….We'll be down there in just over a week and it seems like it has been a long time. Sarah and I are finding our "new normal" and that's by design. Other of our friends have been down several times to see their kids. We decided to give it a little more time but that's just us. I don't think there's a right or wrong length of time – everyone is different.
In some ways the "off to college" experience is timeless. It's always an acute break. Difficult for families to handle as their children go off and come back very different people. The Hollins website talks about how to prepare for the kids first trip home: "Your child is likely to be different" and "expect them to sleep…a lot". I don't really remember doing any of that when I came home but my mother does: "oh Andrew slept all of the time". Can't recall that happening.
What is very, very different from when I departed for Longwood in 1984 is technology and communications. When I was in college (yes, you kids get off my lawn) there was only a "Hall phone" that was a pay phone. If you called home, it was usually a "collect call" (no, you kids will have no idea what that is). Parents were usually happy to hear from your kids but everyone wanted to call on Sunday evening when rates were low so there was sometimes a line for the phone. Lord help the parents when they called the Hall Phone. Someone would answer it, yell your name down the hallway, and put the phone on top of the box. Sometimes they'd come and find you but not usually. Hell, I'm not even sure there is an actual phone in her dorm. Don't need it anyway. I text with Erin everyday. Some days Sarah will video chat with her. If I wanted to, I could track her every move with the "Find my Friends" app. I don't normally elect to do that unless I'm having a lot of trouble getting a response from her. Even then, I don't bother trying to contact her before 10 on a weekend! Also very different is television. In 1984 cable TV was a huge deal. MTV was huge – Madonna was prancing around half naked (some things never change) on every other video and the 24 hour news cycle was just starting to germinate. Now most kids don't really watch TV…well, they don't care about "Cable" TV. They care about streaming and gaming. If they have a TV at all odds are that they're using it for gaming.
We're looking forward to visiting Erin in a week or so. She'll actually be coming back with us for 4-5 days. Happy Times.