My Night as a College Student

I figured out the key to survival as a college student: you have to be a vampire. Or, at least, be ready to live like one.

Here’s why I know this to be true.  Recently, I got to spend one wintry night in my daughter’s dorm room. That’s when I discovered that college students can stay awake until daybreak, the hour vampires fear most. During the night these young folk eat, drink and mindlessly chatter as if it’s the middle of the day. They do not know the meaning of a good night’s sleep and thanks to them, neither do I.

Roughing it with Sarah in her dorm room.

This all started the night before my trip to Chicago for the Thanksgiving holiday.  My daughter, Sarah, asked me if I would sleep in her dorm room on my first night in that toddlin’ town.

Excuse me? Is that the sound of crazy talk I hear?

In other words, instead of going to my brother and his wife’s comfortable home with a comfortable queen-size guest bed, I was to go directly to jail (I mean, the dorm), do not pass Go, and absolutely do not pine for the luxury of uninterrupted, blissful sleep.

Wait. Does she know how old I am? I mean, is that even allowed? For a woman of my age to spend the night among a bevy of college students—in a coed dorm? Aren’t there rules about this? These are the things that went through my head. But here’s what I said to Sarah:

“What a great idea! I’d love to stay with you!”

I said this because I consider myself to be a good mother and good mothers realize that such invitations from their grown children come once in a blue moon. So if one of my kids wants me to stay with them—whether in a dorm room or a truck stop—I’m all in. Consequences, be damned!

Though I had to wonder, wouldn’t Sarah be embarrassed to have her mom stay with her, hanging around like some fish out of water or, worse, a damsel in distress?  (Which I would definitely be if I had to wait in line just to use the bathroom because there were eight kids ahead of me.) I knew I’d be embarrassed. In fact, it never occurred to me to ask my mother to stay in the dorm with me when I was going to college. Might as well have asked her if she wanted to get high.

But Sarah isn’t me and for that I’m grateful. She is a thoughtful, level-headed young woman. Although, if you ask me, she does happen to have my knack for laying on the guilt. All she had to do was pointedly remind me that I hadn’t yet seen her dorm room, on account that I didn’t help her move in this year, like I did the year before. True, I had sheepishly decided not to fly out with her for move-in day. So now, being her mother’s daughter, she was throwing it in my face. Touché!

And here I was. Me, who’s accustomed to the finer things, like the Hilton or the Hyatt, reduced to staying in a dorm room on the third floor of a building with no working elevators and the smell of sweat clinging to the hallway walls. Perhaps I could look at it as an adventure. I was slumming it. I was now one of the few, the proud, the parents who dare stay over in their kid’s dorm. Word on the street was that last fall, a dad had spent a night in his son’s room but had never been seen coming out. Alive. Sheesh. The sacrifices a parent makes for their children—don’t get me started!

Luckily, Sarah did her best to accommodate me, letting me use her bed while she slept on the hard, cold floor, in a sleeping bag borrowed from a friend. The sounds of mayhem, deafening chatter and earsplitting music  kept me awake until sunrise and provided me plenty of time to reflect on the peccadilloes of my own college days.

Meanwhile, Sarah slept soundly, completely oblivious to the cacophony of sounds.  She was unaware, too, that her mom was wondering if daylight would ever break. Thankfully, it did. At which time, said mom finally fell into peaceful slumber—for a full two hours. Having pulled an all-nighter, there were no sugarplums dancing in this head. Instead, there was the reoccurring nightmare of taking an Economics 101 final exam—without ever having attended the class. Darn. Nothing like reliving the old days.