And the Beat Goes On . . . by Sharon O’Donnell

As my middle son looks with friends for where they will live off-campus next year and as my oldest son awaits for the word from graduate schools about his application, luckily my youngest one is tracked out of school. This means that he has a 3 week break — and so do I since I went back to work as a Teacher Assistant on the same calendar as him but at a different school, an elementary one.  He and I both needed a break (see previous column about my youngest having Thirteenilitis), so when the stress picked up with my other two sons, thank goodness the stress went down a bit with my youngest.  I don’t think I’ve ever had high stress with all my sons at the same time (knock on wood), and I’d hate to think of what that would do to me and to my husband.

The middle son has lived on campus for two years now, and I can certainly understand why he wants to get a place with more room. Those dorm rooms are tiny, and the bathroom situation is  — well — gross. But there are not a lot of options without spending a lot of money; supply and demand has made the costs of student apartments sky rocket.  I wish I had come up with the idea of student apartments because it was certainly a logical and profitable one. When I was in college and moved off-campus my junior year, our apartment was a ‘regular’ apartment with two bedrooms and one bath. My two roommates and I drew straws for the single room, and the winner got one room to herself. I didn’t mind sharing the other room with the other person, but it was not an optimal situation. Today’s student apartments include a living area, a kitchen area, and three or four individual bedrooms, each with an individual bathroom.  Not only that, but most of them also have beautiful swimming pools and a state-of-the-art clubhouse. Hell, after touring them with the past few years with my sons, I’m ready to move in myself.  Maybe I could talk three of my ‘mom’ friends to move in with me.  But I don’t think we are exactly the within the age range of the target market.  My oldest son lived in such a place, though not one of the ones that are so nice they bill themselves as a ‘resort’, but his lease will be up in May (where he goes to grad school will determine where he lives after that).  My middle one’s friends are cost-conscious, so they won’t be at one of the nicest places either — but it will still be a student apartment — which is a heck of a lot nicer than the apartment I stayed in during college.

Yet, I think my middle son will miss living close to campus. He goes to the gym to play basketball and work-out a lot (and oh yeah, he also goes to class), and I am concerned that having to drive somewhere and park as opposed to just walking will begin to get to him after moving.  Even my oldest son says he missed living on campus, but he decided he’d rather have the space. So as we are going through figuring out where one son is going to live next year, we are still wondering where the oldest one will be going to grad school. He has two interviews next week — one at NC State where he graduated from with his undergrad degree and one at Wake Forest. He also has applied to Boston College and the University of Virginia. We all love the city of Boston, but the thought of him going there concerns me because I’m afraid he will settle there after graduation and I won’t see him very often. Sure, I want him to pursue his dreams, but I also think life is too short not to be around the people you love most.  I’ve read on the grad school comment sites that people say it is much more likely to get a job in the same region in which you go to grad school.  So we are waiting to see what will happen. In the  meantime, my oldest son’s meal plan has ended since he graduated in December, so at least I’m seeing more of him right now.   I always have some kind of food he likes ready to prepare in case he drops by. 

I’ve also gotten a math tutor for our youngest son so he can be tutored over the break. It was difficult to find a tutor mid-year, but I finally did.  At least when my husband goes out of town, I won’t have to worry about trying to explain probability to my son because I can rely on the tutor for that (besides, someone would have to explain probability to me first).  After my son’s class got through inequalities in December, I was forced to admit we had reached the limitations of my ability to help him any further in math.

So the beat goes on, as they say. First one son and then another.  Always something to keep me busy.  Or worried.  Or both.

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