Rob has had to gently put his foot down, again, on the topic of college shopping. But first, I want to draw your attention to this great article HKS mentioned in the comments section of the last post: Sending Sons Off to College, and Finding Solace in a Big-Box Store. The little animation is distracting, but I found it worth it. (I held up a hand so I couldn’t see it.)
One reason I mention this is that a lot of you are on the same page as me: adding MORE items to the list, wanting to make the list LONGER and MORE COMPREHENSIVE. Like the mother in the article, we find it soothing: making lists, being prepared, Thinking of Everything. But that is not what Rob wants. When I came home yesterday with more things for his college stash, and one of those things was duct tape, he said, “What is this for?,” and I said, “…I don’t know, I saw it on a list, I’m sure it would be useful for…something; duct tape is always useful for something!,” and he said, not unkindly, “Okay. Yeah. If neither of us can think of anything I need something for, then I’d rather not bring it. If I find out I need it, I’ll buy it there.”
I never used duct tape in college, not once. I don’t know why I bought it for Rob, except that I saw a list online where it was written in all-caps. I used regular scotch tape in college, though, and he uses it regularly, so he will bring a roll. And packing tape, to remake his broken-down packing boxes when he needs them again. And scissors.
He does not want a tool kit. I wanted Paul to make him a small tool kit anyway—until Paul and I realized that neither of us had a tool kit in college. I know I took apart bed frames, and Paul and his roommate built a loft—but neither of us owned tools. Where did we get tools? Neither of us remembers. I think my dorm floor had a communal supply, or maybe the R.A. had some? Paul thinks his dorm’s desk clerk had them and you could check them out like a library book.
Rob is willing to take along all the medicines I think might be necessary, so I included even some he’s never taken in his whole life, because it makes me feel less anxious to think of him texting me with some illness that’s left him bedridden, and me being able to say, “FIND THE X IN YOUR FIRST AID KIT AND TAKE SOME.” It also makes me feel better to know there’s a Student Health Center he can go to for anything a basic first-aid kit isn’t prepared for.
He will take along the bottle of multivitamins, but he will not promise to remember to take them. I asked would he TRY, and he sighed and said yes. I accept that compromise. I will not text him every day to remind him to take one.
He does not want more than one set of sheets, or more than one set of towels. I didn’t have more than one of each, either, when I was in college: on laundry day, I put the sheets and towels in with everything else. He says if he runs into problems with this, he will acquire more sheets and/or towels at that point.
He doesn’t want a mattress pad. I didn’t have one either in college. I’m sure the mattress wasn’t particularly deluxe, but I don’t remember noticing it at all. He says if it gives him trouble, he’ll acquire a mattress pad at that point; he can certainly survive with the provided mattress until he can figure out how to get to a Target, or while waiting two days for Amazon Prime. And his college has banned some types of mattress pads anyway, for flammability reasons.
His dorm is not air-conditioned, so he will take a little fan. He will take the shower caddy he thinks is wrong (BUT IS RIGHT), and he will take the shower shoes everyone agrees he needs. If he noticed the box of condoms I put in with the shampoo and body wash and razors and deodorant, he did not comment or protest.
But he will not bring the hole-punch, even though I saw it on a list. He says he has used a hole-punch approximately twice in his life, and that in a pinch he can borrow one or cut a hole with scissors or poke a hole with a pencil; and if he finds he uses one regularly, he will buy one there. He will not bring a bathrobe: he plans to walk to the showers in his pajamas and get dressed after the shower before going back to his room; if he finds shower protocol makes this an uncomfortable or unworkable plan, he will acquire a bathrobe then. He will bring an umbrella, but not rainboots or a raincoat: “I have never worn either of those things.” (He is wrong—but to be fair, the last time he did so they had little froggies on them.) I didn’t have rainboots or a raincoat in college, either; I had and used an umbrella.
He has agreed that it seems like a good idea to bring a microwave plate and bowl and mug, and I am happy because those are HIGHLY FUN to choose: Target has a ton of by-the-piece options, and I am going to get him to agree to indulge me by considering and discussing each possibility rather than choosing the first acceptable one. So I’m glad he doesn’t know that what we all did in college was swipe some from the dining hall. The dining hall put a big empty bin in each dorm at the end of the year, with a wry note from the kitchen staff asking if on our way out we could please drop off all the dishes for a good cleaning before we re-borrowed them next year.
I’m guessing I can sneak one of those tiny sewing kits into his gear. But he is not bringing a doorstop, even though we’ve seen it on a lot of lists: he says if he wants to prop the door open, he’s pretty sure he can use a textbook or a half-full laundry bag or a pair of shoes or something.
He’s not bringing cleaning supplies, or an iron. I didn’t bring those things, either: in my dorm we had to clean our own bathrooms (in his dorm he does not), but the college had a closet on each floor with bulk custodial cleaning supplies. If he needs something the college doesn’t provide, he can buy it there. But I’m not sure what in his room he’s going to clean: a vacuum system is available to use, and the rest of the room is just cement blocks, some desks, some beds. I can’t picture him putting a careful Windex shine on the windows, or using Lemon Pledge on his desk.