Life in a Dorm

My girl finished her freshman year at New York University this past week. The year flew.  It seems like yesterday we were eating breakfast at Norma’s in Manhattan and discussing what items we needed to purchase for her room.

Rug. Blanket. Lamp. Maybe a microwave, if her suitemates didn’t already have one. A couple of pots and pans for their little kitchen.

Her Nana asked how much cooking she was planning to do in her room.“Well,” I’m having my meal plan upgraded so that I get more dining dollars, which I can use at the little restaurants in the food court.”  She added, “I can spend them at Starbucks.”

“You’re going to eat breakfast at Starbuck’s every day?” I asked.

“No, I’m going to cook steel-cut oatmeal every day and use my dining dollars for coffee,” she answered, as if I had just asked the silliest question in history. And then, taking a bite of the steel-cut oatmeal she’d ordered at Norma’s, she said, “And nobody in my room had better eat any of my oatmeal.”

I had to laugh. A couple of years ago, I gave up on the idea that my kids should only eat organic fruits and vegetables and locally-raised, grass-fed beef. Not because I don’t believe we should ALL eat that way, but more because I have come to realize that I have no control over what my teenagers eat.  And I’ll admit that my obsession with what my kids put in their bodies had been, well, overboard. The pendulum has, however, swung completely in the opposite direction.

Now they can look like Brangelina’s bunch walking around scarfing Cheetos for all I care. As a matter of fact, I’ve swung so far on the giving-a-shit-what-my-kids-eat pendulum that my actual home is now more like a college dorm. My kids go buy junk and hide it from everyone else in the family. I can open an upper cabinet in the laundry room and find a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Where does Lyla keep her Pringles? They used to be under her bed until the dachshunds discovered her hiding place. Now they’re stashed under her bathroom cabinet next to the box of tampons.

(As for myself, I found it easier to develop a taste for things no one else will touch. My kids hate sparkling water, so I drink Pellegrino. That and Kombucha, a tea made from dehydrated mushroom.  It’s not the best stuff in the world, but I like it because they won’t touch it.)

So Madeline’s defensive attitude about the oatmeal was completely understandable. “I don’t think you’re going to have trouble with people stealing your oatmeal,” I said.

“Why not?” she asked.

“Steel-cut oatmeal takes a long time to make. It’s not a microwaveable food,” I answered, afraid to tell her the real reason I believe no one will steal her food (at least not a second time).  My nephew still sports a hole in his ass from where she chewed it when she discovered him eating one of her granola bars when he spent the night at my house.

We decided she was completely prepared for dorm life, this girl of mine. So after all the discussion about what she needed, we spent the day in Bergdorf Goodman buying shoes and clothes.  And God help the roommate who messes with those.

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