Off to university

Going to university is a huge step for everyone in the family, even if the university is not far away.



Everything with children is such a mix of emotions and no time is that more true than when they move out, even if temporarily. We took daughter one to university this weekend. It’s not far away, which makes it easier, but it still seems like an enormous step.

I spent much of the week focused on logistical issues, mainly trying to get daughter one to book an appointment at the optician’s because if she doesn’t go she will have no contact lenses. Daughter one herself has mixed emotions about the whole thing. On the one hand she is very excited to be moving onto a new phase of her life. On the other she is fairly worried about the enormity of it all and keeps looking at only son as if she will never see him again. She is also fixing a lot of her worries on the cats, particularly one of them who has adopted her as a sort of surrogate mum. “How will he survive without me?” she asks.

She woke up on moving in day with the cold she had developed earlier in the week seeming to have made a comeback. “I feel sick,” she said, downing a Lemsip. Then she realised that she’d got the time wrong for checking into her accommodation. It was two hours earlier. She hadn’t packed yet. She’d been working right up to the final moment and not been around much. She told me off for mentioning every five minutes that she could come home for the weekend any time. Was I undermining her or was I helping her to see it as not the huge final break she was building up in her head? I rang Vision Express and got her to book an appointment.

Only son gave her a card he had made. It featured a hand and a rainbow. It was supposed to be a hand waving, but only son was concerned that the middle finger seemed a lot bigger than the other fingers so it looked as if he was basically being very rude to daughter one. He had written on the bottom of the card that it was not what it looked like, just to make sure. He signed it “sincerely, x”.

We took the first lot of daughter one’s stuff with her on the tube. The following day was my birthday so we were driving in with the rest. When we arrived at the student accommodation it turned out daughter one’s name was not on the list and that the accommodation had been overbooked. She was offered an upgrade further away – and nearer home, in fact so near that daughter one had passed it every day when she went to work. She decided to turn it down because she wanted to feel like she was moving on. It was the right decision, though part of me was thinking I could visit her more if she was nearer [she may have been thinking the exact same thing…].

We lugged her stuff up to her floor and were offered free popcorn on the way up and slushies. Her room was small and hot, but had a welcome box of free stuff. Slurping his slushie, only son asked if he could move in and become a student. Daughter two picked up a flyer for an Ibiza night event. “Do you have to do any work at university?” she inquired. She was beginning to think university might be her kind of place. She was particularly interested in what she called ‘refresher week’.There was a swimming pool in the basement and the whole area was lively and bustling. Daughter three was looking impressed too. She was definitely going to do her homework when she got home. Even I wanted to move in.

We went for a walk to buy toilet rolls. Daughter one was a bit tired and wanted to go back to have a nap. There was a free pizza evening later, though she was a bit worried about the small talk aspect. We said goodbye and trekked back home. Daughters two and three went into daughter one’s room and started looking through her clothes despite being told not to.

Daughter one texted me happy birthday the next morning at 9am. “You’re up early,” I replied. It turned out she had been up since 6am [daughter one normally doesn’t emerge on non-work days until midday]. “We’ll be there at lunch time,” I said. The cat seems to sense something is up. He hasn’t been back for 48 hours. I feel like a part of me is missing.

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