Remember the day your first born went to kindergarten. That was a really big deal as you weren’t sure who would do the crying, you or your child. And then before you knew it, the anxiety flared up again when she started high school. Well, that’s nothing compared to the feelings you’ll have when your kids leave the nest to attend university. Many of you will be facing this experience for the first time in just a few days so good luck. Stay strong.


In our family, the first to leave for university was Tammy. The pickup truck was loaded plus Tammy and I followed in a car filled to capacity with her other ‘necessary’ possessions. Tammy was organized – not on time mind you but nevertheless organized. Everything she took was colour coordinated. Sheets, duvet, towels etc. all fell within her colour scheme. She was going to make the most of her small space. Bar fridge was moved in, bed assembled, computer hooked up, clothes hung up, and care food packages put in her fridge. A full-length mirror was even installed on the back of the door by her dad. Tammy had all the comforts of home. It was finally time for Chuck and I to leave our little girl totally on her own. We decided that we would use the bathroom facilities before heading home. Imagine my surprise when Chuck followed me into the same room. Apparently, York University had co-ed washrooms. Chuck was NOT impressed with this setup and I know he had second thoughts about leaving his daughter in this den of iniquity.


Two years passed and then it was Steven’s turn. A similar loaded trip was made to McMaster University but with a few differences. Nothing matched plus he was open to taking any old cast offs I could give him. He had other things more important to spend his money on than household necessities. We arrived at our destination. As he was unloading the truck, Chuck spotted his stereo among the things Steven had packed, hmm, interesting. Clothes and possessions had been thrown into plastic 2’ x 2’ milk crates, which I must admit were at least easy to carry. But Steven had a second use for these containers. The dorm rooms were extremely small plus Steven had a roommate so space was limited. Four of these crates were used as stilts to support the bed thus creating a storage space underneath. I’m not sure what Steve used this new found area for but if what he did at home was any clue, this space would become his clothes closet. While Chuck and Steven were busy hooking up and moving stuff in, I picked up an envelope sitting on the window sill with the caption “Welcome.” A big orange condom and a pamphlet about Safe Sex fell out onto my lap. Too much information. I was definitely getting an unwanted education.


Now were our kids prepared to live on their own away from family? The first year, Tammy spent as much time at home as she did in residency. The reasons for this migration back and forth were twofold. One, she had a part time job in Brampton and two, she was a little bit homesick. As for Steven, we didn’t see hide nor hair of him for weeks on end. When he did come home, he brought laundry. It is surprising how one set of sheets can go from September to December and not see a washing machine. Tammy had learned how to do laundry as a young teen because, “Mun didn’t wash her clothes properly” but Steven didn’t care how his clothes were washed as long as he didn’t have to do it. As a result, he had avoided the laundry lessons. It therefore came as quite a shock to him, when for the first time, he had to do this chore on his own. A frantic call was made. “Mum, it costs so much to wash and dry clothes here. Can I put all my clothes, whites, coloured, etc. in one load to save money?” “NO!” “How much soap do I put in?” and the questions continued. I had obviously failed in preparing him for bachelorhood.


But the mind is ever resourceful. In order to save money, the dryer was bypassed and replaced by a clothes line which he strung up in his cramped quarters. All clothes were now hung on the line to dry. Shortly after the installation of this money saving device, I received another laundry call from Steve. “Mum, how do I get the stiffness out of my jeans?” Tammy happened to be home at the time and without missing a beat, she yelled into the phone, “Take a cold shower.” Honest to God, did I need to hear that?


I feel I didn’t totally prepare our kids for life on their own but they survived, nevertheless. So, when your kids head out the door for that next exciting step in their lives, don’t worry. They will find their way. Just be grateful that you won’t know all the details of their university lives. After all, you can’t fret about the things you have no knowledge of.