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Tuesday, 09 August 2016 14:08

picture of student moving into college dorm room with parents

It’s that time of year.

We are in urgent need of PACCAPs (Public Announcements from College Children for Addlebrained Parents).

We can save the breath of anxious college-bound children and the going-deaf ears of their anxious parents. Hundreds of thousands of parents will no longer feel the compulsion to shoot the human messenger (aka: their children).

Let’s just save on anxiety levels (on both sides), overuse of sighs, whiny toddlerlike tones, and unspoken “duhs”. Believe me – I’ve paid my “duhs”.

This system delivers the same, reliable message at regular intervals – automatically. Painlessly. Aloud. Over secret wireless technology that has already been installed in every house with a college-bound child who cannot afford college (much less the list of required “must haves”). Oh wait. That’s a huge percentage known only to those organizations that manage student loans and sales of anything stating “I am the proud parent of a <insert college> student”.

What is the message? It is the message from child to parent reminding them of the necessity and urgency of purchases and paperwork.

But wait! That’s not all, for an additional fee, the PACCAP can be customized for the specific college to be attended and thus will include the exact dates due and accountable hours to complete all tasks.

And that’s not all! For even more money, the announcement can be personalized with names and recognizable voices – sans whiny tones.

(Note: No Ginsu knife infomercials were even considered in the making of this blog.)

How much would you pay? Well there’s more:

The message will repeat several times to include:

  • A reminder to get to a certain store to be unnamed but generally abbreviated with the same consonant that is the second letter of the alphabet used 3 times. That store or another superstore or local five & dime will do. But necessities are necessities. Please purchase the follow:
    Twin XL sheets – because these mattresses only exist in dorm rooms. (There is a theory – some say a conspiracy theory – that links XL mattress sheet set sales to the world economy but it has not been confirmed by the conspiracists. Yet.)
  • Other items for shared bathrooms. Imagination and lists are both helpful, though there is a strong probability that one or both of you will forget the one most important item, regardless of what you buy. This will necessitate joint therapy. Start budgeting now. And yes, the conversation will begin with “<Insert guilty parent> forgot to buy <insert toiletry of utter importance>” as your parenting degree is scrutinized as it has now prevented your child from achieving their college degree in a meaningful way.
  • A reminder to get to a certain store to be unnamed but possibly with the same letter used in the previous store but only 2 times. Or you can just go to that “fruit store”. Again, other substitute stores are acceptable and often preferred because you are on the hunt for the latest in all things tech. Laptops will be purchased that won’t be supported, regardless of what you buy and whatever you’ve told been told by the IT Department which was then translated by your child. Printers will be purchased that will not be necessary. And so forth. And so on and on and on. Look on the bright side: you’re supporting the global economy – just not YOUR economy. But this time it’s tech, not bedding.
  • A reminder to get to the store featuring ways in which one can talk or text or chat or play games or write symphonies. Using such equipment for actual phone calls is optional and almost unheard of. Outdated, in fact. These stores will have astronomical fees for contracts and data (which, by the way, is not private so why do we pay for others to have it? In fact why don’t these data “plans” pay us since we are giving them all of our information one way or another?). Don’t forget that you will also be signed up to pay all sorts of taxes that change from device to device and vary month to month. No one can explain the why or ‘whatfor’. Don’t bother asking. (I did. Once. And I can say that quite honestly that it’s not worth even wondering. I was transferred to every sales rep and manager and made it just short of the CEO before the VP and I were both in tears and suffering from PTTD: Post Traumatic Tax Delusions.)
  • A reminder to get to the store that prevents starvation. Your child will need ways to cook (or, more likely, reheat) something and survive without risk of salmonella or someone else eating their food from the common fridge in the common and often disgusting kitchen no matter how many locks they put on their ice cream or cookies sent from home nor how well-labeled the container is with names and illegal (except when protecting college food) death threats. Then be prepared to return the fridge (the roommate will have one) and the microwave (the dorm won’t allow it) and the hotplate (also illegal) and the AGA stove – it won’t fit and can't cook better than the illegal hotplate anyway.
  • A reminder to get to the store featuring all things stationery (and stationary – please note the difference) for supplies ranging from pencils to paper to staplers to glue sticks and glitter and crayons because one must always remember one’s inner child within their college young adult. (And besides the kid with the most arts and crafts stuff is really the most popular kid when everyone is homesick and wants to color and paste stuff… even if the theme is more adult than you’d like to know about.)
  • A reminder to get to the clothing and shoe stores (probably not of your choice) because college may require seasonal clothes or stylish clothes or quirky clothes or just an updated wardrobe that doesn’t include worn underwear that the roommate will likely notice while trying not to notice. It’s a necessary trip even for oblivious (sorry to gender type) boys. This may be the only time that parents of “commando-style” kids have a distinct financial advantage. Enjoy the savings, but woe to the roommate.
  • And finally, a reminder to keep filling out and/or signing off on paperwork: Financial aid acceptance letters. Promissory notes. Health forms. Insurance forms. The semester payment. The fees that were not included at first. (You did, at this point, remember just to keep your checkbook out and pen ready?) You will sign everything. And in return, you will have access to nothing. Your child’s progress reports (aka report cards), etc. are now accessible only to … your child. You pay for their independence. Don’t worry. Be happy. (Or so the song goes … thanks to Bobby McFerrin!)
    In these last weeks, we parents live in a constant state of announcements. We have a list to do and no time to do it all. But we will. And all the while, whether our college kid will be a freshman or a senior, we live in a constant state of mixed emotions as we watch them gain their independence … just as they continue to rely on us … just as we get ready to let them fly (again and maybe for good).

**

And finally, here’s the PACCAP we actually need to hear repeated on the system:

Hey, Mom? Dad? It’s me. Hug me often and don’t let go. Forget it if I squirm or get silly or protest. Hug me anyway. Get a reasonable amount of sloppy sad. I need to know you aren’t made of concrete and that you care but only just enough so that the leaving is my emotional time first and foremost. (You can have the second slot.) I need to I know I can still turn to you in the best moments and the worst no matter where I am, no matter the time, no matter the place. No matter how far away my dorm room is from our front door. So, yeah, hug me every time the usual PACCAP comes over our system. Hugs are the least I can offer in return after this many years of giving me the best that you’ve got.

(Well, a parent can dream if she is designing the damn system!)

**

Good luck getting your kids out and then (settled) in. You will both breathe easier soon enough – and hopefully get the rest you need before you are searching for a cheap hotel for Parents’ Weekend and you’re shopping again. (Pay better attention to the toiletry list this time around!)

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