September 14, 2022

"GIVE ME THAT PHONE" and other college drop off details

The living situation:  While most colleges with an Evans Scholarship program have houses where the students live, Notre Dame doesn't. Instead the female scholars live in a dorm with other women, and the male scholars live in the dorm next door. There are only 5 female freshman Evans recipients at ND. 

At ND students must live on campus for 3 years, while Evans kids - all 4 years. Remember, ND doesn't take requests. 

Another fun fact, Notre Dame doesn't have Greek life. Think Hogwarts in Harry Potter. Students are allegiant to their assigned dorm. If someone badmouths a student's dorm, they better be ready for a fight. 

Students who make great friends from another dorm, can apply to switch to a friend's dorm the following school year. It happens, but rarely. 

Dorm and roommate assignments were delivered back on July 1.Mini was assigned a quad. Two rooms with two girls and a common room in between. She'd been stalking checking out the other Evans students on Instagram. She hoped to be paired with 'M'. The Evans kids all have at least one Evans roommate. Mini was bummed. She wasn't paired with 'M'. 

Mini suspected that her (non-Evans) roommate, Ellen, was odd. The  Evans girl in her quad is super quiet. the 4th girl is very nice, but doesn't seem real, she always presents with a smiley face. 

Before we'd even driven home from ND, Mini shared that Ellen was annoying and clingy. Mini was in the dining hall, happy to have met a new girl to eat with. Ellen came up and tapped her on the shoulder, "We're sitting over there, come sit with us." Mini was irritated. 

I told her not to worry - once classes started there'd be a natural divide. Three weeks in, Mini doesn't hang out with her roomies. She does her own thing and they do theirs. Peaceful, just separate. 

Good-bye:  After the closing mass, we walked back to Mini's dorm and said good-bye. She sobbed. My confident, easy-going, hilarious, messy-bun-wearing, don't-care-what-anyone-thinks daughter was a puddle. Oh, my heart. I cried right along with her. I told her it would all be fine, that we would talk and she would find her people, etc. She kept nodding, but the tears kept coming. 

We had eaten a late lunch. When we got to the car, I panicked:  WHAT IF SHE HAS NO ONE TO EAT DINNER WITH? SHOULD WE STAY FOR DINNER? 

I texted her and asked her if she was OK. I told her we'd come and eat with her, if that was her preference. At 2:00 I'd stuffed myself. It was so pricey to eat in the dining hall - I wanted my money's worth. Sometimes being on a budget is a pain. I was willing to take one for the team and cram more food in my pie hole. 

She found people to eat with and said she'd be OK. I cried on and off all the way home. 

More tears:  Mini sounded funny the first few phone calls. We thought we were annoying her. *I now know she was holding in her emotions.* 

I chatted briefly with her one morning a few days after we'd dropped her off. Coach was annoyed that I'd gotten to talk to her and he hadn't. I was saying good-bye to the babies at the garage door. He was on the front porch, his phone to his ear.  

Do I hear someone crying? 


Does she MIND? I'm her MOTHER. 

If you're picturing this playing out like a scene in a movie where the mother's eyes bug out of her head and she boxes her husband out while wrestling him for the phone all while hollering into the phone IT'S OK- I'M RIGHT HERE. WHAT'S GOING ON? -Then, it's as if you were a visitor in my front hall.   

Why is she crying? How much of this conversation have I missed? 

She'd been hanging out with the 2 Evans girls:  M who she'd hoped to room with and M's roommate H, who Mini really liked. 

Mini texted them:  When do you want to walk over to the scholars' ice cream social?

They'd already left the dorm and hadn't thought to wait for her. I was sure it was an oversight. Mini felt hurt.

Early on Mini worried that she was 'wasting' her time. While she was getting to know M and H, other friendships were being made - was it a mistake to spend time with M and H? 

Weeks have passed. H started dating a boy on day 4 and has no time for friends. Mini feels like these two girls, who she does enjoy, tend to only do things together. She is focusing on building other friendships.

Stress:  Mini admits that her expectations were too high. She wanted to make her friends before classes started, so that task was handled. Oh, goodness. 

I told her - she will most likely make friends in her classes, too. She is desperate to find her 'group.' She's told me many times how much she misses her close-knit group of friends from home. In high school she could hang out with most groups. She was well known and well liked. 

Taking things to a new level:  I now grade my
cookies when I bag and freeze
 them. The A+ ready to go to my
tailgate are in the Gladware bin,
 the bag of A- is my backup supply. 
Mini:  What if I don't find a person to room with in my dorm next year - a dorm that she has to live in. 

I say it'll be fine. Not to mention, if she meets a wonderful girl outside of her dorm - she can request to have that girl come and move into her dorm. 

Her math teacher, 'Teach', whose twins I babysit, is zooming with her tonight to help her review for math. 

I told 'Teach': I wonder if Mini is struggling because she's a funny kid and she hasn't yet shown that side. Maybe if she shares the grad photo story when the photographer dragged her across the room by her feet, people who gravitate towards humor will be like:



Can you figure out what is going on
 in this photo? It's so weird,
it's almost artistic. 

I saw Mini Saturday while tailgating at Notre Dame. So fun. Our presence on campus during the first home game stressed her out. I urged her to just do her thing - see us when it worked. Another tearful good-bye. Not gonna lie, I'm having a hard time focusing on anything. Thanks for putting up with this long saga. I'm hoping she relaxes soon, so I can also relax.  


Are you a fan or Greek life? That wasn't offered at my college. Anyone homesick when they went to college, camp, or anywhere? Have you wrestled a phone from someone when you heard tears, knowing the person NEEDED you? Do you freeze cookies or something else? With a grading system? 


Nicole MacPherson said...

Aww, I hope she settles in and finds her people soon. Hugs, Ernie.

Colleen said...

I really really empathize with her and I think her feelings are SO NORMAL for a college freshman. You leave your group of friends and get dropped off where you don't know anybody in a place you're not used to, without family to go home to at the end of each day. It's a lot. I was super homesick my freshman year and I didn't want to go back as a sophomore, but my parents wouldn't financially support my decision to transfer (they thought I was doing it to be closer to my boyfriend, which I kinda was) but it was so much better that 2nd year!!! I think it might help her to know that everyone feels like her to some degree and things take time. I would have totally been her friend, she's a hilarious good egg.

Ally Bean said...

"She is desperate to find her 'group.'" Yep, all of us did when we went off to college. I imagine it's more difficult for Mini to be untethered having come from a large family and having played on sports teams. It must all seem so unnatural to her to be by herself. STILL, she'll find her niche, and she'll soon, if not forget at least put into perspective, these first few difficult weeks. We all did, right?

Nance said...

It's hard to be patient when everything is so new. You want to be able to get stuff crossed off your To Do List ASAP. It just doesn't happen like that. There has to be Transition Time, and it's on its own schedule. Mini might need to concentrate on just herself and classes while being friendly and her natural self to everyone. The right people find each other.

Kara said...

If there are five Evans girls at ND, and four live together, where's the 5th one?

Greek life was small at my university (UMass Amherst) but is huge at my daughter's (ASU). My kid has zero interest in Greek life. My daughter is slowly finding her people. There's a girl she has math and ethics with, so they sit together and sometimes get lunch together. There's a girl that she knew in high school, but didn't know was going to ASU, who lives two floors away, so they get dinner sometimes. She found a small group to study Chemistry with. That sort of thing. It's gradual and is taking time.

Suzanne said...

Oh, my heart aches for Mini and for you! I don't know if this will make you feel any better, but I was SO homesick when I went to college. It was awful. I was so far from home, didn't know anyone, didn't dress "right," didn't talk "right." It was so hard. But I did end up making friends and loving school. I am sure Mini will settle in and meet her people and THRIVE. Giving her support and love while she goes through this transition is the best thing you can do.

Beth Cotell said...

Sarah and Mini sound so similar. Sarah had a wonderful group of friends (The Basement)her senior year and was hoping to immediately recreate that this year. I had to remind her that it took her 3 years to find that special group. Anyway, she is in a quad with her best friend and is still desperate to find new friends. I was very excited two weeks ago when she texted me to let me know that she met two girls from her communications seminar and was planning to eat lunch with them. Now they hang out regularly and Sarah seems less stressed about finding friends. Plus half the basement is coming to visit her and her roommate this weekend so she's excited. Sarah has been at school since mid August so I'm sure Mini will find her people very soon!

Kari said...

I'm confident she'll find her people soon. I agree with Ally's comment on the large family. I had never thought of that. That must be a big adjustment in and of itself. I understand how difficult it is to be far away and helpless. I'm sending you and her hugs. ❤️

Pat Birnie said...

It’s so hard to watch our children go through these tough times. So, so hard on mom. I hope things improve quickly for Mini.

Ernie said...

Nicole- Thank you. It seems like she is finding friends but she would prefer a manageable sized group, along with the security yo KNOW this is going to last.

Ernie said...

Colleen- laughing at your classification of a hilarious good egg.

She has zoomed with her friends from home abd she is finding that she is not alone. Other girls are taking longer than expected to find their footing.

I'm confident that it will all work out. I hope that it does not take a whole year. Sheesh. Not sure I can stand that, let alone her.

Bibliomama said...

If it helps at all, Eve had something very similar happen with two girls last year who were supposed to pick her up before going to a Christmas event and forgot. They are all the best of friends now. It is stressful trying to find your squad, but it will almost certainly happen - it's hard to force, but I understand the inclination.
We don't really do Greek life in Canada as far as I know. Eve enjoys her time at school but we are very close and she FaceTimes most night and misses home. Angus is more independent, but we talk to him fairly often too and it's really nice when he's home. I was complaining on Facebook a couple of weeks ago that I want my children to have independent, rich, full school and work lives and also to have nearly uninterrupted access to them whenever I want - is that so much to ask?

Ernie said...

Ally - This is true. I do think that part of the trouble is that she had many different groups to associate with - the girls who she played ball with, her besties who never had a day of drama and were all cut from the same cloth, and then her family members. There was always someone around. I am so very confident that she'll get it figured out. I'm surprised at how lost she's been feeling. Tonight - she sounded better. That did wonders for me. Not that this is about me. ;)

Ernie said...

Nance - I couldn't agree more. I've urged her on the weekends, when she feels overwhelmed by the workload that she has, to just set the goal of getting so much homework done. Baby steps, so to speak. My college experience was so different. Incredibly small all women's college. It felt like a sleepover. There weren't a lot of choices. Yes - transition time is a must.

Ernie said...

Kara - I'm laughing because I feel like you are posing a riddle, like if there are 8 people on the elevator and 2 step off, etc. Um, there are 5 Evans girls, but Mini lives with one of them in her quad. Then two are roommates together down the hall, and maybe the 5th one is in their quad? Mini's quad includes herself and another girl who is in the other double of the quad. Two of her quad-mates are not Evans.

Gradual is the word, for sure. It is a process. I saw her last weekend at an ND tailgate. She brought over a few friends and they were all delightful. I think part of it is not knowing where you stand with the new people. Am I there go-to for all things fun? Or not? I'm glad your daughter is finding her way.

Ernie said...

Suzanne - Honestly, I'm so grateful that her school isn't that far away. She has an entire week off in mid-October. That will be here in no time. I have been trying to call or text more frequently, so she doesn't feel like she is bothering me. She sounded very much like herself tonight. That did my heart wonders.

Ernie said...

Beth - Yes, that sounds like Mini. She seems a little less stressed the last few days. She is meeting girls, and they are nice. She would feel better if they were a unit, and she knew that they counted her in their posse. I'm confident that she will get there. I keep asking her to be patient. Oct 7th I am picking her up and driving her to Ed's college. Her bestie from home goes to the same school as Ed. We are renting a house with the other family and tailgating. Mini is very excited about that. I'm so glad Sarah has found some girls that she clicks with.

Ernie said...

Kari - I hadn't factored in the big family thing. She did tell me one night that she doesn't like being alone and at home if she wanted to see someone she could just walk into the kitchen and someone was always there. That broke my heart. I didn't bother to remind her that probably about half the time whoever was in the kitchen probably annoyed her. Ha. I'm kidding. I'm glad she is only like an hour and a half away.

Ernie said...

Pat - Yes, it is so hard. I really didn't see this coming. I am tight with some of the boys, but they weren't this upset. I guess girls are different, plus I think Mini and I are pretty connected. I'm so confident that she will settle in and feel more at ease in no time. Thanks.

Ernie said...

Ali - That does help. I could see that happening and I tried to tell her it was probably just that the two of them were distracted and everything was so new. She still likes those girls, but she has found them to be very exclusive as far as tending to hang out together. She likes them, but she is finding other girls who are more inclined to want to spend time. One girl likes that there is just a whole herd of freshman (on a group chat?) and Mini would feel better if that herd was narrowed down a bit. She'd feel more comfortable. I know it will all fall into place and that these early weeks are disorienting, but she will do just fine.

I'm laughing so hard at your scenario and your 'is that too much to ask?' I am right there with you. I think with the 3 boys heading off first, I've seen how they have their own stuff/friends/jobs/plans now and that is precisely why it was SO hard for me to drop her off at college.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I had a good giggle at your Grading System for cookies! You are a hoot.
I grade puzzles when I'm finished with them. :)

I hope by now Mini has started to feel more comfortable and has a small group she can rely on. It's a big transition for all the kids, but if you have at least one person, it will feel less lonely. I know this has been heart breaking for you too; not what you expected at all.

I think the photo is of you chugging a beer in a green solo cup.

Sending her the biggest hugs.

Ernie said...

Suz - Well, the last cookie sheet to go in the oven usually comes out a little less awseome. I would not want to show up to a function with those less than perfect cookies representing my cookie talents. So, I've decided to grade them. If ever I leave a sheet in a few minutes too long (I bake with both ovens, and do 4 sheets at once. I sometimes mess up my juggling act), my kids beg for the ones that got a little brown. They better never say 'burnt'. Ever. I often share the darker versions.

Mini sounded better last night, admitting that she likes several of the girls but it is the absence of a solid group that is getting to her. Just Sunday we had another 30 minute long tearful conversation. I think she is starting to accept that this is just part of the process. She sounded more like herself. Was deciding between sand, co-ed volleyball and a karokee event - a guy dorm comes to various dorms with a karoke machine for tonight. Both sound fun. I can't say she is particularly talented in one regard over another, so just go with what sounds more fun. ;)

It does sort of look like I am chugging a beer. A green beer. I don't think I could recreate that pic in a million years. I'll 'splain it soon.