Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A New Family Dynamic When the Oldest Goes to College

It seems too soon to be writing a post about the new family dynamic. After all, we only just moved Bryce into his Purdue dorm room in Tarkington Hall on Sunday afternoon. Not even 48 hours ago. Ha. But, the emptiness is there and I'm feeling it ever so slightly. I think John is cut up about it far more than I am. My day will come when Sean is installed somewhere away from home. For me, while I'm sad about Bryce moving on, I'm more excited for him to have such a great opportunity and wonderful times ahead of him. He is ready for it and I am eager for him to live it to the full (well ... not if the full means partying or indulging in behaviors I wouldn't sanction, of course).

The move-in process was remarkably smooth. There were six or seven students outside his closest dorm door who assisted us in unloading the truck-load of stuff he brought. Bryce has spent the past two weeks honing and obtaining all the necessary (and many unnecessary, as we discovered) items for life in a dorm room. I believe it took us only fifteen or twenty minutes to get everything dumped into his room. At that point, he grew quite agitated and wished only for us to depart. It is, after all, a fairly small room and we were crowding five people among all the debris of his belongings. I wanted to take several of the moving bins home, so he had to unload clothes and shoes from several of them, but within minutes he was shooing us out. I think John felt a bit put out that he wanted us gone so quickly, but he understood that it wasn't a matter of getting rid of us so much as a matter of clearing the space and getting down to the settling-in process.

Bryce sent me a panoramic photo (not the greatest) of the room once they managed to get things oriented in the way they desired. He was thrilled that his roommate's futon fit in the space below his loft (they both ordered loft beds to make more room for relaxation) and is facing the TV (yes, they think they are going to have enough time for relaxation and TV and gaming - ha), refrigerator and microwave.

He had to send home several things he mistakenly thought would fit (a microwave cart which I had picked up for a song - $5.99 - at the thrift store, a set of drawers on wheels, and a few closet hanging storage devices). I laughed because I assisted Bryce in packing up his clothes (folding the shirts and placing them in his new laundry basket for transportation). His roommate has about 3 or 4 inches worth of hanging clothes between the dresser and the side of the closet. Thus, he is able to display a bunch of stuff on the top of his dresser. Once Bryce hung up all his hanging clothes, I'm sure they covered at least a foot and a half to two feet of space above the dresser. Bryce loves his clothes.

His location is absolutely perfect. He is not far from the engineering buildings and there is a wonderful dining hall just across the street. Bryce said they have innumerable choices available at that dining hall and he should do fine on the 13-meal plan we purchased for him. Thanks to their mini-fridge, he should be able to make his own standard breakfast just fine (a small cup of mandarin oranges and a Carnation Instant Breakfast drink).

I have sent him two e-mails already on these first two lonely nights without him and he has responded twice and promised to keep me informed about how things are going. This first week will be a week of fun, since it is what is called the "Boiler Gold-Rush." He is settling in well and having a good time.

Things have grown a bit more serious with his "friend" Madisyn. As of the 27th of July, Bryce informed me they were officially "boyfriend and girlfriend." This was not really unexpected since he spent most of the summer over at her house. He says her family loves him and treats him just like a son. When Grandma came for a visit prior to his departure, she took Bryce, Madisyn, and me out for dinner, so I had a bit of a chance to get to know her more and I really like her. I think she is a good influence on Bryce. She holds similar views to my own on his late nights and his spending habits (not sure she is able to curb them any more than I seem to, but nice to know we are in agreement).

So, we were not really surprised when Bryce informed us that she and her family are already scheduled to come visit him on Friday (they are going for a football game between West Lafayette and our high school). Then, he will ride back home and she will drive him back up on Sunday. While I hope this doesn't become a frequent thing, I'm not as opposed to his clinging to a girlfriend from home as I thought I would be.

Still, the house will be quieter (not by much since he was already absent quite a bit even when he was living at home) and his room will be different. John and I are cleaning it out and consolidating things from both closets into just one closet, so that Trevor can move in and use the bed, TV, one closet and the surface of the desk during Bryce's absence. When, and if, Bryce comes home for a visit, he will merely move to the bed available for him in Sean's room. We are going to be selling the bunk beds from their room and putting up a daybed with trundle opposite of Sean's bed. I don't think Sean is as eager to have a room of his own as Trevor is, so we will have to see how this transition goes once we get Bryce's room squared away and transfer it to Trevor.

Trevor is missing Bryce already. He had a weekend journal assignment and I encouraged him to write about his brother moving in to college. He said he didn't want to write about that (probably too personal). Sean was thrilled when he was playing x-box yesterday and Bryce was apparently on and sent him a message saying hi.

We will have to adjust to this new family dynamic. It is the four of us now, instead of the five of us. When Bryce does come back for visits, it will most likely be more for a visit with his girlfriend than for a visit with his family. He is on his own now. I hope that college treats him well and that he makes loads of wonderful memories and friends. I hope that he does, indeed, keep in touch and keep me informed as to his well-being.

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