Saturday, September 25, 2010

Manic Cleaning, Croup and College

This last week was all about getting our oldest son to college. But when I’ve been asked, “how was your week?” I’m coming up blank. It was a blur. A blur punctuated by manic bursts of online shopping and house cleaning when I wasn’t tending to our suddenly croupy younger son, who proceeded to spend the rest of the week sick and is currently hacking up a lung in front of his computer screen studying Pokemon.

He was supposed to stay home with his sister after school while we delivered our first-born to his dorm room. But he was too sick to go to school. And no one was available during school to watch him. The up-side to his illness is that he was compliant and uncomplaining during the trip with his head stuffed up and his system saturated with antihistamines. He was a piece of cake.

I, on the other hand, have been something of a nervous wreck. Not that I’m having empty nest syndrome or anything, because the nest is far from empty and the boy is ready to fly, but because I can’t do everything. I have to let go. I’ve done as much as I can to get the guy ready and we’re at the point where mom let’s go of the sweatshirt and the kid rides off on two wheels.

So I’ve had to keep busy. On Monday, before younger son was sick, I spent the day exercising and indulging in spending birthday money from my mother. I needed a distraction. Shiny things do that for me. On Tuesday we were awakened by a croaking outside our door that was oh so familiar. My wife and I looked at each other and sighed, knowing this wasn’t going to pass in a moment. We’ve seen more than our share of croup.

As previously mentioned, sick = compliant and sweet with our younger son, so I was able to prop him in front of a series of Scooby Doo episodes and go on a cleaning binge to keep my idle hands from becoming devilish, and to keep me from diving into the list of tasks our older son was supposed to accomplish ON HIS OWN. I scrubbed the bath and shower tiles in the main bathroom, I swept the whole main floor, I cleaned windows and mirrors, I took out garbage and did dishes.

I also started piling the things that needed packing on the dining room table. I couldn’t help myself.

Wednesday was swallowed up in a late-start at school, monkey bread with my mum and our son’s girlfriend, followed by efforts to keep our younger son occupied while the older one finally got down to packing. After school his girlfriend showed up again and helped him fold clothes, pack his gear, and walk down memory lane as he cleaned up his room. She ate sushi with us and hung out until she had to go home. It was sweet.

Delivery Day was more efficient than I’d imagined it would be. The van packed up, the boys in the back, and we were off, stopping for a caffeine fix on the way. And once we found parking on campus, it was a single trip with a hand truck and the four of us to transport his material goods to his dorm room with a view. I kept little guy busy while my wife set up the computer system (that is her forte), and then it was time for lunch together and then goodbye. Our older son looked exhausted and ready for a nap. We felt the same.

No tears, despite predictions that I would cry my eyes out. He’s not that far. He won’t be a stranger, and with a girlfriend here he’ll be more likely to visit, though I’m certainly happy to bribe him with food to entice him. There’s Facebook and email and texting and all these things that weren’t there when my wife and I were dropped at college and expected to fend for ourselves and call once a week, maybe.

Naturally, I got sick the next day, and am still snuffly, though my energy has returned. Yesterday I just moved from soft surface to soft surface when I wasn’t meeting the needs of his highness the almost-recovered. Sick kids are compliant, recovering kids are demanding and ornery. Our daughter’s come down with it, too, and is in the soft surface to soft surface stage, but she doesn’t have to bounce up to fix hash browns or fetch glasses of milk, so she remains supine.

I have a lovely sense of closure, at least momentarily, because this is all as it is supposed to be. What we wanted when we had him almost nineteen years ago; for him to leave and begin a life of his own. It’s a good thing, even if I have to do a little manic cleaning to get through it.

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