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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Fake Daughter & Real Son Go Shopping for College


Well, we are exactly 16 days away from packing up my son and taking him to college. It's had me contemplating the differences in being the mom of a Real Son compared to the mom of a Fake Daughter. If you're new to my blog, I should tell you that in my real life I am the mom of three boys - blessed, grateful and fully in love with being the mom of three boys.

Still, I'm a girly girl, so Fake Daughter is a figment of my imagination who occasionally appears here in my writing. I have come to realize that the good Lord gave me sons because He knew I probably wouldn't be able to deal with a Real Daughter. As such, I have created Fake Daughter and made her perfect:  non-argumentative, yet opinionated, stylish and classy, tidy and helpful, smart and compassionate. Basically, a joy to be around every minute of every day. She agrees with me on all topics because she's fake and I made her up in my delusional head.

Anyway, as the two youngest Real Sons spent the past two weeks at basketball camp, this gave me some quality time with the oldest Real Son. I had set that time aside for college dorm room shopping so that - because his mom is right on top of everything - he will have the most successful first semester of college that the world has ever seen. These weeks together would be full of laughing and lunches, Starbucks and selfies. It was going to be awesome.

In preparation, I had read through 342 different articles titled "The 10 Things Your Kid Really Needs for College", "The 125 Things Your Kid Needs for College", and to be safe, "Don't EVEN THINK About Getting These Things For Your Kid for College". Also in the reading queue:  "The 10 Things To Say When Your Kid Leaves for College", "The 10 Things NOT to Say When Your Kid Leaves for College", and also, "Eleventy Billion Reasons You Should Totally Reconsider Leaving Your Kid at College"

I got in my full-on shop 'til you drop mentality and decided that we would hit Bed, Bath and Beyond first. A brand new one recently opened only a few miles from our house. (OH, THE LUCK!). Then we'd grab some lunch and head over to the mall for some new clothes. Later, we'd go to REI for a really good winter coat and boots because apparently Pennsylvania's weather does not mess around.

I was so excited about our day that I was about to come out of my shoes. Clearly, Joe was super pumped about it as well because when I gave him the day's itinerary he said, "Sure."

I mean, that's what he said, but I'm pretty sure that on the inside he was all:

In contrast, from the get-go Fake Daughter was all:

(and so was Fake Daughter's Friend who spends a lot of time with us because she has a bad home life and I am a stabilizing force for her.)

When we got to Bed, Bath and Beyond, it was the stuff that Fake Daughter's Dorm Dreams are made of. There were strings of twinkle lights and bedazzled pillows. There were fabric covered bulletin boards and all manner of frames. There was twine that we could string above her bed with clothespins holding photos of her best friend who happens to be me, of course. We considered something called a Majestic Canopy, but decided that it was too pretentious. (Let's not forget that Fake Daughter is humble and grounded.) We have a vision. More or less this.

Fake Daughter and I ordered monogrammed pillows for her bed. We looked at seven different comforter sets, made a pro and con list (with brightly colored pens on a notepad), narrowed it down with a commonly agreed upon criteria and, in the end, decided that we needed to go to Pottery Barn or maybe Target or maybe Home Goods or maybe all three. We just needed to stop for a quick bite to eat some organic salads and papaya infused green tea first. Then we'd simply need to hit a few or twelve more stores. I mean, this is a big deal. What kids don't want to spend hours on end shopping and making the most informed decisions they can about bedding with the woman who gave them life?

I'll tell you who.

Real Son.

Meanwhile back in reality, his first question as we walked into the new, clean, glorious Bed, Bath and Beyond was "Can't we do this all online?

He aimlessly followed me into the first section dedicated to future college dorm dwellers. I pointed out that "surge protector" was on at least 95 of the 100 "Essentials" lists I had seen which is about the most boring thing I've ever heard in my life.

He said, "Gotcha." and picked up the first surge protector he saw. It was white and plastic. I thought there might be a grey/white chevron fabric covered one, but no luck. Real Son also grabbed a package of Command Hooks. White and plastic.

Things started to look up as we walked toward the bedding section and I said, "What do you think of these two navy comforters? They're similar, but this one has a red stripe detail and that one is more like a grey stripe."

Real Son says "Sure."

"Sure what?"

"Sure. That one." He is basically pointing at the air.

Later I said, "You need a laundry basket. That blue one is too bright. I like the navy better. Don't you?

"Yea," he says grabbing the bright blue one.

At this point Real Mom is all:

In the end this is what we came home with after shopping trip number one:

After Bed, Bath and Beyond we found our way to food which was not organic and drink which was not infused with anything but carbonation and aspartame. Real Son was not made to go on hours and hours of shopping trips. He can take about 20 minutes in a store and then he needs to know where we're eating. In the next few days, I took additional trips to Bed, Bath and Beyond on my own. We ordered a coat from REI online. He did accompany me to the mall one day where we spend about 10 minutes buying him some jeans and the rest of the time eating burgers and sharing fries. 

For the remainder of those two weeks, we got some of his dental and medical appointments out of the way, he did some chores around the house for me, picked up his brothers at camp when I couldn't and worked on final paperwork for college. I didn't force any more bonding experiences or shopping trips. We went to some movies, ate some more food and basically hung around the house. 

I wouldn't trade this Real Son for all the Fake Daughters in the world. Our reality is not nearly perfect, but it's pretty sweet. Unfortunately, no matter how much we mamas try to grip tightly to our realities, we cannot control or manufacture the way they change and grow and even move away. It doesn't matter if I buy all 10 of the right things to send him to college. It doesn't matter if I say all 10 of the right things. In the end, my son will have to look to the God we taught him about and to himself to create his own, unique reality. He's going to be just fine.

Even without a monogrammed pillow.


Lauren said...

I LOVED reading this. You are a great writer and you captured my attention! Thanks for sharing!

Kristin Flora said...

Wow! I read this out loud to Marissa as we drove to Penn State with a van full of decor, Mike following in the truck pulling a Uhaul trailer full of furniture for her off campus apartment. We cried laughing �� and Marissa said she would be happy to be your fake daughter any day. So excited for his journey at PSU to start. Let her know if Joe needs a ride.