Peter Cetera II; College Shopping Begins

I would like to continue to push you to listen to the Peter Cetera Pandora station. Look at what it played for me last night while I was making dinner:

1. Arthur’s Theme, by Christopher Cross.

2. She’s Like the Wind, by Patrick Swayze. If you had given me a list of songs and asked me which ones I liked, and She’s Like the Wind was on it, I would have given a little eye-roll laugh and not chosen it. But…that’s a really pretty song! I DO like it! Very much! And I knew more of the words than I would have guessed.

3. All Out of Love, by Air Supply. I listened to so much Air Supply in childhood. And I have been to an Air Supply concert. It was cheesy and fun. Like, they pulled a girl up on stage and sang cheesily to her. They pointed at the audience and winked while singing. So much cheese. I am making fun of them because I am a little embarrassed about how much I like them.

4. Don’t Know Much, by Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt. How many times did I listen to this song in high school? SO MANY TIMES.

5. Will You Still Love Me, by Chicago. I heard the first few seconds and got immediately sentimental. I was singing (and doing inaccurate air drums) when Rob and William came home from work. William said, “Sure sounds like [decade] in here.” He did air brackets.

6. I’ll Be Over You, by Toto.


In short: I think you should like what I like.


In other news, Rob and I have been doing some college shopping. Alchemizing stress into purchasing decisions is exactly how I naturally roll, so it’s nice when that works out in a practical, necessary way. Rob is being…somewhat cooperative, somewhat eye-rolly/it-doesn’t-mattery. I especially wanted the quest for The Right Comforter and Sheets to be a prolonged, multi-store event, perhaps with comparison photos and pro/con lists, but he wanted to go to Target and just pick from whatever they had. So, fine.

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Room Essentials Solid Comforter in Olive.


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Room Essentials Sheets in Cactus.


The drawings on the sheets look black in this photo, but they’re the same green as the comforter. I didn’t notice until we got home that the sheets are microfiber. I don’t know if he will like that or not; I always buy cotton or sometimes cotton-with-some-polyester. By the time he knows if he likes it or not, all the extra-long-twin stuff will be on clearance and I can get him something different. I also bought this mattress protector:

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Some lists recommend some sort of nice pad to make the mattress more comfy, but he wants to try out the mattress first; I can Amazon-Prime him one if he wants it once he gets there.

He and I ran into a conflict about what the college list meant by “shower caddy.” His dorm has big multi-shower bathrooms at the ends of the halls, so I thought shower caddy meant something like this:

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Something you can carry with you to the showers, and then carry back to your room and put down somewhere. ROB wanted this:

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It snaps with difficulty onto the shower-curtain rod, and it doesn’t have a flat bottom so it can’t be put down. It’s not even MEANT for showers, it’s meant for CABINETS. (1) We don’t know what kind of shower curtain rods and shower curtains, if any, are in the bathrooms. (2) He HAS to be able to put it DOWN when it’s in his room. His response: “I’ll lean it against a wall or something.” I was starting to get a little mad. I am ALMOST 100% certain that I am right and he is wrong, but I was not quite certain enough to force him to bend to my will: I have not, after all, seen the actual bathrooms. We “compromised” by me buying this without consulting him:

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It’s collapsible, so it takes up almost no space for packing; and it wasn’t very expensive, so it’s no big deal if Rob is right and I am wrong. He can use it temporarily while he evaluates the actual shower situation, and then he can go out and purchase something different if he wants to. I almost wish I’d let him purchase the wrong thing just so he could think every morning about how right I was, but it was $20 and I’m not spending $20 on something I’m almost 100% certain is wrong.

We also got shower shoes:

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And a new hairbrush, because he’s had his since his middle-school-not-washing-his-hair stage, and it is gross.

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I asked if he needed new socks or underwear and he said “MOM, NO.” So I guess he can buy those for himself or maybe I’ll put some in a care package or in his Christmas stocking.

53 thoughts on “Peter Cetera II; College Shopping Begins

  1. kate

    In my (not-too-distant) college experience, you’re totally right about the caddy, but the collapsible one you ended up getting should work just fine (and might even be more convenient).

    1. Jessemy

      Yes, those were my exact thoughts. Guessing that the plastic basket type probably freaked him out (too feminine?) I wish I’d had one of those collapsible ones in college!

  2. Suzanne

    I mean, he is WRONG about the shower caddy. Right? I had a bathroom in my dorm suite all through college, which I shared with one to three other girls… and we STILL had the kind of carry-with-you shower caddy you wanted to choose.

    I love the cactus sheets.

    AND I love the Patrick Swayze song too. It’s on the original Dirty Dancing soundtrack, which I used to listen to ALL THE TIME in high school. So many good songs on that soundtrack!

  3. Katie

    You are right. He is wrong. When I went to college everyone used what looked like a very tiny plastic milk crate with a handle. My family used it in our bathroom at home for several years after I was done with it, so it was definitely $9.99 well spent.

    1. Sara

      I also still have my tiny milk crate with a handle from my dorm-room shower days! It lives in our laundry room now, filled with stain removers and other random things.

  4. Jody

    You are so clearly right about the shower caddy that it’s almost embarrassing. LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER, ROB.

    It’s also extremely embarrassing, how many of the lyrics to ALL of those songs I remember pretty much as soon as the videos start playing. The 1980s were a very aching love ballad-y time, weren’t they.

    1. yasmara

      SAME! On both accounts. My son just spent a week at camp in a dorm, and he needed a shower caddy like that one, which unfortunately I didn’t send with him. Next time!

    1. Slim

      That was in the back of my mind the whole time I was reading Swistle’s post.

      Also, my dorm room had a towel bar on the side of the armoire (why no closets, college? WHY?), and I could have hung Rob’s shower caddy over that. But let’s not tell him that.

  5. Lauren

    I too had the shower at the end of the hall, and maybe girls feel differently about it than boys, but he would have regretted that decision within the very first week because all I can imagine is dropping your towel because of awkwardly carrying that caddy (can that even be called a caddy?) on your way back to your room and then WATER. EVERYWHERE. No. No, you are 100% correct, sorry Rob, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

    Also, we have those same exact sheets (in King size), and I am generally a person who prefers luxurious cotton, and I have been pleasantly surprised with the microfiber. They feel nice, and importantly in the summertime inferno of Texas, they are light and wick moisture away. He may want something warmer for the winter.

  6. Shawna

    I’ve never owned a shower caddy, and am pretty sure that I just brought my shower stuff with me individually in my hands when I lived in residence, maybe? I am also drawing a blank on the idea of my mother taking me shopping for anything before I left for university – it seems like she should have, but I’m pretty sure I just packed stuff I owned into cardboard boxes and threw them into the van my dad was using to give me a lift to school.

    But then, by the time I left for university at 18 I hadn’t lived with either of my parents for the summer since I was 14 (though I generally lived with my mom during the school year), so my stuff was already segregated from my mom’s and I was very independent. I also didn’t really spend school-year weekends at home much from age 15.5 onwards. Now that I have an 11-year-old, my mind boggles at the idea of her leading the kind of life I did.

    1. WL

      WOW I could have written this exact same thing word for word! I just threw stuff in boxes and drove myself to college! There was no shopping or prep. Crazy. And I also have a 12 yr old and it just boggles my mind to see how her life is now vs how mine was at her age (home life falling apart and me basically becoming a functioning adult making my own money, buying my own clothes, food, paying school fees…)

      1. Shawna

        Exactly! It was only as an adult reading blogs of people sending kids off to college that I realized that parents usually bought stuff/helped with the prep/set up dorm rooms (including sometimes DECORATING them!)… heck, I didn’t even know that parents usually came to drop off their kids and fussed over them and looked at the campus and stuff.

        It actually worries me a bit that I’m not going to know to do certain things for my kids when it’s their turn. Fortunately, I’m an obsessive planner, so that should help.

  7. Judith Rosa

    You are correct about the caddy, as others have stated. Also, more socks and underwear: he needs them. I say this as the mother of boys who had done their own laundry since age 9 (when I started law school as a single mom). The same boys who forgot to do laundry, change their sheets weekly, and other hygiene practices as soon as they started college. (It was just a phase, thank heavens!)

    PS I love Patrick Swaze’s song.

  8. Shawna

    Oh the UNDERWEAR CARE PACKAGE! How could I have forgotten?!?

    So my mom was prone to sending random boxes of goodies, often with no note. It was often stuff like an entire box of mixed chocolate bars. I didn’t really think twice about opening them in front of people and when I got one dropped off to me by my dorm supervisor while I was in the cafeteria, I just opened it.

    Of course, that was the one with a few pairs of frilly underwear right on top. One of the guys I was eating with snatched a pair up an twirled them above his head exclaiming at ooooh, how fancy they were.

    I shrugged it off, but I was glad that if everyone had to see my underwear, it was at least cute underwear.

    1. Shawna

      Also, my daughter, who is in sports and ends up changing in front of other girls a lot, has really nice underwear for an 11 year old. Cotton, but thin and comfy and cute, in bright colours, usually with a bit of stretch lace at the top. Stuff like this:
      She’s been wearing this sort of underwear since she fit into a women’s XS, so probably since she turned 10.

      Actually, most of my underwear is very similar.

      1. dayman

        The idea that my daughter could be big enough for women’s underwear in a year and a half has sent me spiralling into despair and woe.

        1. Shawna

          Sorry! Didn’t mean to cause despair and woe! It certainly gave my husband pause since she was still young enough to prance downstairs wearing it to show it off to him when she got it. He was glad she was at the age where dads aren’t allowed in their daughters’ hockey change rooms anymore.

  9. Rachel

    You are correct on the shower caddy, as others have said. But just looking at them makes me super thankful I lived in a dorm suite with our own bathroom. I got to keep my stuff in the shower and never needed one.

    Definitely send him socks and undies. At 32 years old, I wish my mom would send me some a couple times a year.

  10. liz

    You are absolutely correct on the shower caddy. My (15yo) son spent last summer at a camp that was on the Wellsley college campus, sleeping in the dorms, and needed exactly the kind of caddy you wanted to buy. He said, btw, that the showers were uniformly disgusting because no one cleaned the hair out of the drains. He said he would have, but he didn’t want to TOUCH that big clump of Other People’s Hair. So I would also send some heavy-duty rubber gloves and maybe some plastic baggies? For pre-shower drain de-hairing?

  11. liz

    And I worked as a receptionist at a doctor’s office for a couple of years in high school, and am here to tell you that killed any liking I had for any of the music you listed, because it was on heavy rotation on the easy listening station we had on all. the. time. So now I associate it with anxious patients, file folders, and paper cuts.

    1. Swistle Post author

      Yeah, that can kill it. The music that played on a loop when I was waitressing is dead to me.

  12. Natalie

    I personally hated microfiber sheets. I found them difficult to roll over and they also did not stay on the mattress. They were weirdly slippery and yet not. But it seems a very popular thing now. My daughter has no issues with her BUT she’s only 3 so that’s no help to you.

  13. Maureen

    As others have mentioned, you are totally right about the shower caddy. We bought the same one you have bought for Rob my before my daughter’s second year of college, she seemed to like that style a lot.

    If Rob’s school is anything like my daughter’s-the mattresses are basically one step up from something you might camp with-horrible. We bought her a foam top to try and make it a bit better, but I saw people actually lugging new mattresses into the dorms-instead of using the school provided ones. Not sure what they did with the school’s property until time to check out in the spring, but after seeing what was provided-it wasn’t a bad idea. We didn’t go that far though!

    1. yasmara

      YES. Dorm mattress are universally AWFUL. I would get the tallest squishiest nicest foam mattress topper you can afford NOW. He will want it.

      1. Swistle Post author

        I think he very well might—but I didn’t have one in college and I don’t remember noticing the mattress. Teenagers can be kind of oblivious.

        1. Alice

          I was fine without one, too.

          I really think it’s okay to let him go with his own choices, to make decisions once he’s been there a bit, and to even let him make mistakes.

          Oh, and–I wouldn’t send a socks and underwear care package. If his friends see him open it, they will probably make fun of him. And he’ll be embarrassed. Or irritated. Send food if you want to send things. I have yet to meet a teenaged boy that isn’t happy to see more food.

    2. Corinne

      Our dorm had a large storage closet on each floor, so you could store things (tag them prominently with your name). Some people did this with mattresses and used their own. Don’t forget to put it back at the end of the year, though!

      Swistle, in case you needed another vote: You’re right, Rob is wrong.

  14. Sara

    1. You are right.
    2. LOVE the cactus sheets. My daughters have been picking out sheets from the Pillowfort line that are microfiber and they love them, but I think they are weird.
    3. Wait, you got him more than one set of sheets right?
    4. Go with comfy foam mattress topper. Mattresses are no bueno.
    5. Love that station!

    1. Swistle Post author

      Just one set of sheets. That’s what I had in college, too: on laundry day, I’d take off the sheets and put them in the wash with the clothes, and then put them right back on the bed. He’s going to let me know if he ends up needing a second set of sheets, but for now he doesn’t think he’ll need them. I want to wait in any case, since I’m not sure he’ll like the microfiber.

  15. Tracy

    Even with all the people already saying you’re right, I feel so strongly that you’re right about the shower caddy that I am adding this completely unnecessary comment to agree with you. You’re right. 100% absolutely correct. Period. It feels fun to be able to say 100% because it’s rare that I get to be so absolutely sure that there isn’t any doubt.

  16. Lawyerish

    Rob is so wrong about the shower caddy that it is making me physically uncomfortable.

    Also, I have been listening to the Peter Cetera station, and it is everything you said it would be and more. It is so pleasing! The only downside I am finding is that I get so enthusiastic about wanting to see what the next song will be that I want to jump ahead halfway through every song, even though I LOVE every song!

  17. Britni

    I will just add to the – yes he is definitely wrong about the shower caddy.
    I am surprised he is brave enough for cactus sheets – every boy I knew went with plain *everything* for fear of being embarrassed by something they brought to college. Go Rob!
    Is this everything he is taking or just all that you’ve bought so far?

    1. Swistle Post author

      Just all we’ve bought so far. Most of what we have left to buy is the basics, though, like shampoo and laundry detergent and a pack of razors—we’re sending him off with one of everything, and then he’ll replace things himself. For other stuff, like room decor, he’s going to wait to see how he feels about it once he’s there.

      I was very pleased about the cactus sheets!

      1. Maureen

        I saw these sheets the other day when we were at Target, they are really cute. They had a few cactus themed items, which my daughter (who is 23) loved. Right now Target has some adorable sheet sets, I already had a cart full of things-but I think I will go back and pick up the flamingo sheet set for my bed :)

  18. LindsayA

    Make sure to send him a few tools — hammer, both types of screwdrivers, a set of teeny screw drivers, etc. I remember no one else in my hall seemed to have these supplies. I did, and I met lots of new people as they came to borrow things.

  19. Ruby

    Jumping in to agree with everyone else that you are 100% right about the shower caddy.

    Also, have you heard of Amazon Student? If you have a valid university email address (the kind that ends in .edu), you get a year of Prime for free. Then, if you want to keep using it, they’ll give you a discount on the annual fee. (Assuming this is still a service they offer–it might not be, but it’s worth checking.) It might come in handy if, you know, you want to make Rob buy his own WRONG shower caddy.

  20. ernie

    I am with you on ‘I’m all out of love’, but ‘She’s like the wind’ – ew. Sorry. That’ elevator music to me.

    I know that you are right about the shower caddy. I just did the college shopping thing with Laddie last year. We waited until the last minute, more accurately, we just never had time to get it done until the last minute. He had to be there Aug 10 for football, so we technically had less time. Anyway, I cared very little about what he chose. I steered him to a dark color for his comforter. To hide dirt and all. We bought a similar shower caddy as the one you ended up with. It worked fine, but I will say I scrubbed and scrubbed and couldn’t remove all of the soap scum build up when he came home in May. Maybe I’m just cluelss, but the damn thing is hard to clean up. I would’ve gone plastic bucket if I had to do it over again. Still, if he’s like Lad he will proabably be fine with it.

    The hook on the shower curtain thing that he wanted reminds me of the over the door hook things that I bought. They weren’t the greatest because not all of them worked. They were either too narrow for the depth of his door, or they added too much to the top of the door making it imppossible for the door to close – not fitting correctly in the door frame.

    Good luck!

  21. ernie

    Let me make my over-the-door hook thing less ambiguous. I bought those for extra hooks for coats and stuff – nothing to do with showers. Anyway, they will only work depending on the door width and how tight the door frame is. If you want to pick up a few, grap a variety and bring back what doesn’t work.

  22. Gigi

    I agree with everyone else that you are right on the shower caddy issue. And the college shopping? Made me weepy. As did every single other thing that happened that year. It was a year of lasts and firsts which equaled an eternally weepy Gigi.

    And as to your assessment that I should like what you like is 100% correct. I grew up in the 80s and LOVED the music, still do.

  23. Jenny

    I like the music, but a) it brings me back to a time when I was perpetually anxious about liking people and whether they liked me back and whether they would find out I liked them and whether I liked them correctly, and b) my husband makes fun of this music relentlessly, so I have to listen to it by myself or not at all. Not quite as romantic as one might wish.

    1. Swistle Post author

      Paul doesn’t like it, either. He comes into the kitchen, winces, and says, “What are we LISTENING to??”

  24. TinaNZ

    This post has almost 0% personal relevance for me (well maybe a little in the 80s music) but I loved it all so much. You could write brochures for funeral cover insurance plans, or the instructions for installing a fire extinguisher bracket, and make them entertaining and readable!

    My favourite part: ” I almost wish I’d let him purchase the wrong thing just so he could think every morning about how right I was”.

  25. Phancy

    I listened to Peter Cetera Pandora the other day and it was amazing! My 7 year old even loved it.
    And you are so right on the shower caddy.

  26. Squirrel Bait

    It’s interesting to me how much more grateful about free stuff you become once you’ve spent some time on your own. My wife and I both occasionally wax nostalgic about kind and thoughtful relatives who sent us back to school with laundry detergent and canned goods. Even now as a married person with a stable household income, I would be totally stoked about an offer of free socks and underwear.

  27. Sarah!

    You are totally right about the shower caddy, but the “ok, check it out once you get there” plan is a great solution because it’s not worth everyone getting huffy over. You can feel confident you are right, he can be smug in his teenagerness, and everyone can enjoy the last few weeks together :)

    Also, I highly recommend one of those foam things- I had the cheap egg crate foam and it was plenty, nothing fancy, but way nicer than just the mattress. A comfy bed can make a difference at the end of a tough day especially if you’re missing home and don’t want to admit it.

  28. Therese

    Your post about shopping with Rob reminds of the parent session at my school’s summer orientation. The presenters go through each month with things to expect and then relate that back to specific campus programs/offices.

    Anyway, for the summer months they’ll ask the parents to raise their hand if their student has talked to their incoming roommate, purchased matching bedding, discussed room decor etc…. They then ask those parents if their students are girls and it’s almost 100%. They then show a slide of a male student on moving day with his belongings in a giant black trash bag. Everyone laughs. It’s very much a generalization and stereotype but it definitely has truth to it (at least at my institution). The female students plan, organize, prepare. The male students could care less about their bedding and shower situation and just make sure someone has a good tv and video game console!

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