Local column: College kids just need money

Courtesy headshot of Trena Eiden

College kids just want money

I recently read an article informing parents about essentials for a college freshman, without one single mention in reference to selling a kidney to pay for books. Actually, most of the ideas were helpful and probably ones that doting parents would consider necessary; desktop fan, bath towels, laundry bag, mini fridge and a trash can. Honestly, Gar’s and my offspring would have taken nothing but an extra pair of socks and been wholly content, knowing they were out from under an 18-year stint with the drill sergeant. Truth be told, they left in something akin to Speedy Gonzalas, with tires peeling and exhaust backfiring out the tailpipe.

Since a dorm room is only slightly larger than a bathroom stall at McDonalds, I’m not sure where a kid would put much of what was recommended. It was actually suggested to purchase a duvet, dust ruffle and feather pillows. Our kids didn’t have those at home, why would I spend hard-earned dollars for them to be drug room to room, across dusty floors, up gravel hills, across parks and spread out by muddy lakes, rivers and water parks? That’s after they were thrown in the back of pickups, smashed in car trunks, or stepped on in a sedan’s floorboards. No, the kids are better off getting whatever the local second-hand store offers. They don’t know the difference, don’t care, and it brings a bit of contentment to a thrifty/cheap mother’s heart. 

One item mentioned, a rug, made me snort. It was said that putting a rug down will keep you from stepping onto a cold floor in the morning and it added much-needed color to their space. Please, whether boys or girls, their floors are so full of paper, pens, pencils, shoes, conglomerated clean clothes with dirty laundry, dishes, utensils, pizza boxes, books, baskets and bicycles, they couldn’t tell you, on threat of death, what color the floor was prior to move-in.

Another funny item was a vacuum. Oh, so naïve. It said Bissell models came with a washable filter. If a kid ever packed a cleaning device into a dorm, trust me, it would never be moved from its spot, and that filter would remain so pristine, you could use it in a surgical unit.

It was recommended that students possess plates, mugs and utensils, suggesting a rack for forks and spoons to air after cleaning which I found funny. That cutlery will be thrown in a box and there’s a very good chance it’ll never see soap. 

Then there was wall art which I found amusing. They actually thought the miserly mother would buy prints to liven up a dorm wall.  If the kid is lucky, real lucky, there will barely be enough room on the wall for a photo of their dog. The rest will be covered in sticky notes.

Plants were suggested. Really? Something that could actually die from lack of care? I’m shaking my head in a definite nope.

There was also disinfectant cleaner. Now I’m not saying they shouldn’t use it; I’m merely pointing out that the chances of them even knowing where the container might have gotten stashed will be a real trick.

Then the best thing of all was mentioned last and it’s humorous. The individual writing the article wanted us to send our students with stationary. Stationary!? Kids today don’t have a clue what that is. Heck, most adults don’t know either. It said the kids would write to see how their friends were doing at another school. Through their phones, they know what’s going on before the school does.

Our youth do use some of the well-intentioned paraphernalia we help them unload on the university’s campus. While living at home, I ironed our boys’ hang-up shirts. Trying to keep them from appearing homeless as they went off to their first year of college, I sent a spray bottle and told them to fill it with water and then mist straight out of the dryer, the placket front of their button-up shirts. Did they use the spray bottle? Well, I know at least one did. He told me the guys all went to the store and bought some because they shot a lot farther than squirt guns. And the article’s author thinks kids are going to wash their forks.

In reality, college kids pretty much just want us to send money. I’m guessing it’s a real letdown to open an envelope from home and find nothing but a letter telling them they’re loved.

Trena Eiden [email protected]