Once upon a time, a long long (longlonglongLONG) time ago, I started a blog shortly after my firstborn turned six. At the time she had buckteeth and dark blonde hair and little blue glasses, and she often glared at me and said I DON’T LIKE YOU when I displeased her. This week that same sassypants turned TWENTY, only now her teeth look great and her hair is currently… um… strawberry blond with pink tips, I think… and she has a little opal nose stud instead of glasses (not to help her see… oh, you know what I mean) and nearly all of her texts to me start out I LOVE YOU but also I get I HATE IT WHEN YOU’RE RIGHT sometimes, and I screen-cap it every time because it delights me.
We thought eighteen was a big deal, but she seems to be taking twenty much harder. “Now I REALLY have to be an adult,” she kept saying, like the Adulthood Police might pull up on her at the park and be all, “Ma’am, excuse me, but aren’t you a little too old to be riding on that playground equipment? Can I see some ID, please, and can you tell me when you last filed your own taxes?” I always found it hilarious when my father would say things about how he knows I’m an adult but he always thinks of me as a kid, but now I get it. Twenty is still a toddler. Twenty is playing grownup and hoping no one notices.
Just as the last birthday before you leave for college is the GET OUT birthday, the birthday before you move into your first apartment is a similar—and yet unique—extravaganza.
[Sidebar: You thought this was gonna be a sappy post, I bet. INCORRECT. I spent the wee hours before her actual birthday texting back and forth with her about the day she was born, and while she’s fantabulous and all, I gave her all my mush and now you get to hear about STUFF, instead.]
When the kids were getting ready for college, that GET OUT birthday included twinXL bedding and stick vacs and other dorm trappings. There’s a surprising amount of stuff they seem to need—especially when you consider that I think the only thing we bought before I went off to college was a new set of sheets? maybe?—and it’s the start of a new adventure and all. I have greatly enjoyed it, both times, and I hope the kids did, too.
Although the apartment move-in won’t happen until this summer, I think I already mentioned that pretty much the moment negotiations concluded and the lease was signed, Chickadee had a list of things she was certain she needed. Now, let me just say up front that I am a COMPLETE MORON for not insisting she move somewhere furnished. I mean, I guess I wasn’t thinking. Maybe I was high off the fumes from painting Monkey’s new-to-him dresser so she could have the old one. Or I figured we could do as college students have done since forever and buy cheap stuff from graduating students and call it a day. Anyway, as the list grew longer, we had to have several talks about how this was going to go down.
1) I offered to buy her new bedding. I also offered to procure a (secondhand) mattress, and tried to remind her that a mattress is really all a relatively broke college student needs. She said okay and promptly found a secondhand IKEA bed she wanted and suckered Otto into picking it up for her and stashing the pieces in the attic. Meanwhile, we selected her new bedding and I told her it would be a birthday present and bought it for her.
2) Once the duvet, duvet cover/shams, and sheets were procured, I realized she also needed a new mattress topper and cover. And a couple of pillows. And probably some more towels. Hi, I’m a sucker with a closet full of my spoiled child’s new linens.
3) Mattresses came and went on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace and because we are HERE and she is THERE it was a constant stream of HEY LOOK AT THIS ONE and DO YOU THINK THIS WOULD FIT IN MY CAR texts depending on where it was located. Unfortunately, after last year’s super-fun mono adventure Chickie’s health improved just a little and then took a sharp nosedive, and she has since been diagnosed with fibromyalgia (which may or may not be correct and DO NOT GET ME STARTED on how long she has been waiting to see a specialist because RAAAAAGE) which means she actually needs a pretty specific/good mattress or she’s gonna be (even more) miserable. I started considering buying her a new mattress but was still resisting because $$$ and also…
4) … quick on the heels of the gazillion mattress texts were similar messages about desks and bookshelves and nightstands and also HEY MOM, I really think I need a lamp; yes I know I have a lamp but I mean a DIFFERENT lamp; HEY I NEED BINS, etc. You get the drift, yes? And somehow because we have the Big Vehicle here, I spent the month leading up to her actual birthday running all over town to meet with strangers who are ready to part with their most prized particle board creations. This was “cheaper” than buying new, because my time is worth nothing, I guess. (HAHA! LITTLE HUMOR! IGNORE THE EYELID TWITCH!)
5) For every piece of furniture actually procured there were at least three episodes of either being told something was available and then having it become unavailable or an otherwise flaky seller. One dude put up a couple of grainy (like, astoundingly bad, honestly) pictures of a desk and then in corresponding back and forth said it was in storage and he was selling it for a friend and he didn’t want to “waste a trip” to the storage unit, so he wanted me to promise I would buy it if I came out to look at it. Um. Oooookay, sir, enjoy your desk! Thanks anyway! Another particularly charming seller (about to graduate from college with a real degree and everything) gave me his address wrong. No kidding. When I texted him from the middle of a decidedly non-residential area to say I was pretty sure his house was not there, he realized his mistake. Plus, his bookcase had been assembled backwards, with all the raw edges showing. BLESS HIS HEART.
6) ALSO for every piece of furniture procured there was a negotiation about Who Is Paying For This Missy, Huh? Because my love has limits. As does my bank account. And also remember how moving into an apartment is about being a more independent adult? Independent adults buy their own particle board!! Why, back in my day I had to buy AND ASSEMBLE my own!
7) Meanwhile, I acquired the closetful-o-linens pretty early on, and then in discussing kitchen needs (her with her roommate, me with her) I found myself saying OH I HAVE PLENTY OF STUFF FOR YOU and that was true. Sort of. I mean, we got new dishes at Christmas and saved the old ones, and then I found a stupid good deal on new cookware so I bought that for ME and she can have my old stuff, but… ummmm… I found myself adding to the stash again and again, because OH SHE NEEDS ONE OF THESE and HEY DO YOU HAVE A CAN OPENER and such. Also, as a dear friend loves to tell me, bargains are my love language and also I maybe have a problem (but listen, you can never have too many spatulas).
All of this is to say: Our garage is filled with furniture and there is currently a monstrous mattress living in my office, and the “couple of additional happy birthday here’s stuff for your apartment” items are taking up the entire dining room table. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! PLEASE TAKE ALL THIS CRAP AND GET OUT! (And Otto just told me last night there’s no way we can get all of this moved in one trip, so that’s awesome, too!)
Thank goodness Monkey is staying in the dorm. Also, just hypothetically, would it be wrong to either fake my own death or change the locks when Chickadee graduates and tries to bring all of this crap home again before grad school…?