Something I had realized but not entirely realized was that as soon as Rob left for college he would start being left out of things happening at home. I HAD realized we’d have one fewer plate to set out, and that he wouldn’t be taking his turn as Paul’s weekly pizza-making helper—but I hadn’t thought about things like having a visit from extended family and Rob not being in the big photo of all the kids, and him now being the only one of the kids who hasn’t met these second cousins, which is too bad because they’re about his age and they’re super funny and cool. Henry in particular was completely starstruck, but everyone liked them.
Well. This is the new stage, where What Happens To Our Family is not automatically What Happens To Him. He has his own timeline.
You know what will be very weird, I think, is that there will come a year that I will not take a picture of all five kids together for our Christmas card. This year I can still do it: Rob will come home for Thanksgiving and I will take the picture then.
Rob is not sending long chatty emails about everything going on in his life, but he is doing a good job of periodically reassuring me that he continues to breathe. A few nights ago he sent a looping video of himself singing “Doe, a deer, a female deer.” A few nights before that, it was a picture of a line in his textbook saying that Norwegian rats are from China, next to a picture of his face doing a “What the heck??”
Some of my friends have had visits from their college kids, and I am studying those visits with interest. The main complaint seems to be that the child comes home and is barely at home at all: always off visiting friends, or else sleeping. I am looking forward to hearing if any kids have been insufferable and mouthy and know-it-all in their new independence and knowledge, but that is not the sort of thing parents tend to post on Facebook so I will have to wait for in-person reports. And maybe it happens less with kids who come home more often. Maybe to get the full impact of Wise Returning College Student, the first visit can’t be until Thanksgiving/Christmas.
I am getting ready to send an October/Halloween care package. I have a movie-theater-candy-size box of candy corn, a tub of Target’s monster trail mix (GET IT??) (it’s not actually monstery at all, it just happens to be his favorite trail mix and the timing seemed good), and a miniature pumpkin, and I will put in one or two of every kind of candy we get to hand out to trick-or-treaters. Plus a pack of potassium iodide tablets in case of nuclear war. Oh, and Howlin’ Halloween Blend Tic Tacs.