September 7, 2022

strategic errors and a near miss for the books

The holiday, which was indeed Labor Day (I referred to it as Memorial Day in yesterday's post), has thrown off my typical Mon/Wed post days. Not even sure what I normally do after a Monday holiday, but here we are with posts back to back. 


Upperclassmen in dorm-specific, color coded t-shirts held signs and cheered as cars drove up. As soon as we alerted the color-coded folks which dorm we were heading to, the girls in the lilac shirts chased our car, screamed, cheered, waved flags, and behaved in a very excited fashion. It was touching and very fun. The girls were super welcoming, but the welcome-wagon guys from the male dorms were positively entertaining. One dorm posted this sign out in front of their dorm: 

Duncan is a name of one of the
 male dorms. This
made us chuckle. 

Mini went inside to check-in and get her room key. Coach and I prepared to help the helper girls put Mini's things in huge laundry carts. 

Girl in lilac shirt:  (upon opening the trunk) OH, THIS IS A WELL PACKED CAR. 

I took a small bow, and thanked her for the compliment. She was not wrong. 


Notre Dame doesn't allow kids to shop on social media, or anywhere, for roommates as freshmen. No requests. In my book, that's fine, but they also make no attempt to pair kids with similar interests or messy/neat, early bird/night owl factory settings, which in these days of algorithms-rule-the-world seems a bit nonsensical to me. 

In other words, yes - I fear that Mini's roommate will struggle with Mini's mess making issues. At the risk of getting ahead of myself, Mini and her roommate are not likely to be friends. I think meeting someone new is a great concept, but could we try to find a common thread here? Spoiler alert:  having an annoying roommate made the transition to college hard for Mini. 

STRATEGIC ERROR #1 (not counting the alarm mishap, which really - WAS a big error, right?): 

I intended to jog up to the room with Mini. Be there when she met her roomie. Start helping her get unpacked. The car needed to be moved to a lot and Coach wanted me to go with him. He didn't know his way around, but in hindsight - ASK SOMEONE, google-maps, etc. Instead, I told Mini I'd go with Coach and we'd be right back.


We parked, and then I started walking. I stopped, noticing Coach was not walking. I waited for a few minutes. I walked back towards the car. I stood there. I walked to his side of the car. I saw him digging in his bags. He moved to the trunk. More digging. He went back to the front seat. 

Me:  What are you looking for?

Coach:  I can't find my wallet.

I asked a few questions to see if that might help us pinpoint its location. He mentioned that he almost forgot it at home and grabbed it at the last minute. Why then would it be in his overnight bag? I climbed in the front seat. Reached between the seats in the space allocated for cups, purses, and 'stuff' -  and pulled out his wallet. 

Mini texted me:  WHERE ARE YOU? 

Me:   Sorry, we're coming. Dad couldn't find his wallet. Walking back now. 


By the time we got to her room, Mini looked a little frazzled. She'd hoped to mid-loft her bed. That wasn't an option given the furniture that they had. The beds were lofted. She had a wardrobe under her bed to one side and a desk to the other side. There was very little wiggle room and most importantly NO CLOSET AND NO DRESSER. Her wardrobe had 2.5 drawers at the bottom and space to hang things. Oh, dear.

Remember how I forbid her from purchasing additional drawers? Oops. 

I whispered to her:  What's up? 

Mini:  I'm too tall to fit under my bed, but Ellen wants to leave them lofted. She told me: "I like my cave." 

Ellen is short, and apparently a fan of dark, cramped spaces. The only other option was to bunk the beds and Mini wasn't a huge fan of sleeping in such close proximity anyway. She was mostly bummed that the beds could not be mid-lofted.  

The other two roommates disassembled the loft. They bunked their beds, but then couldn't fit all of the furniture in their room. They decided to park one of their desks in the common room shared by all 4. I suggested to Mini that she put part of her furniture out there too in order to make their room work. Only fair, right? She wouldn't dare.

Before we left, she'd b0pped her head countless times on the bottom of the bed. Tank's college is big on slicing open pool noodles and sticking them to the bottom of a lofted bed to avoid concussions. When we got home, I sent a pool noodle with Tank's friend who goes to Notre Dame. He was leaving the next morning.  


I wore a pair of sandals that I love. Naot, I think. I've had them forever. Maybe too long - I wonder if they are too lose fitting now as the straps have stretched out. They're very comfortable, but they failed me. Big time. We walked around campus so much that I ended up with a blister on the ball of my foot. Thankfully, I packed a different pair of sandals for the next day and they have a high arch support that immediately took the pressure off my poor blister. I survived.


I have more to report on the drop off, but let me just jump ahead to this very close call that would've been a big road bump. 

Coach and I walked out of the hotel with all of our stuff Saturday morning. We were heading home Saturday night. The schedule given to us by the university noted that Sat. night it was time to say good-bye. Yikes. So soon?

Don't try this at home. Or in a hotel
 parking lot while out of town.
(dabs brow of sweat just looking
 at the photo evidence)
As we approached the car in the parking lot, Coach fumbled the car fab, dropped it, and watched as it BOUNCED.OFF.THE.GRATE.ON.A.SEWER. that he happened to be standing on. It cleared the grate and landed a few inches away. 

We stood there for a full minute. Staring at the key fab. At each other. Back at the ground. Imagine that text from Mini, if she thought the misplaced wallet made for a lengthy delay. With our eyes bugging out of our heads, we exchanged feelings of gratitude, loaded the car, and headed over to see our frazzled freshman. 

More on the frazzled bit soon.  

Even lost a key fab? Did your college kid like his/her roommate? Gotten a blister at an inopportune time? From shoes that you formerly swore by? Know anyone concussed by his/her lofted bed? 


mbmom11 said...

Roommates can be hard. My One daughter, off to residential high school, didn't really talk to her roommate the whole year. Roomie had a best friend who went to the school, and they were always and overwhelmingly together. Daughter, somewhat shy , felt like a third wheel. Another daughter got roommates who were constantly sick or away on weekends.
The key- what a nightmare that would have been. That's why I stuff extra cars keys into the car whenever someone travels more than one hour from home- worst case scenarios run through my head.
I hope things get easier for Mini.

Jeannie Bruce said...

In 4th grade I used my sisters flute to play in the school band. One day when walking home the flute case popped open (I swear I wasn't swinging it back in forth) and part of the flute fell out and rolled right into a sewer grate. Luckily it was one that didn't have water in it until it rains and it was a dry day (unheard of here in Pittsburgh, PA). The older guy whose house was nearby saw it happen and came and saved the day for me. I never told my sister. She would have killed me.

Pat Birnie said...

You really have to thank the universe for not sending the key fob through the grate! My husband lost one recently and I found it a couple of days later on the road at the end of our driveway- & it had NOT been driven over! I hope Mini and her roommate sort things out. My niece ended up sharing with a girl who partied literally every night. Niece would be trying to sleep and this girl had several people there drinking or brought random guys back. It was a night mare but she survived. A shame when this happens.

Colleen said...

I did not like my freshman roommate (the feeling was mutual) but we were both too polite to request a change for the 2nd semester so we ended up dealing with each other for a whole year. She wasn't horrible, we were just total opposites. I would say it makes you a better person to overcome that sort of adversity/learn coping skills/become more empathetic...but really I wish I just had a different roommate. Poor mini!

Nicole said...

THE KEY FOB THING. That is a CLOSE call! Wow.

So this might be a strange question, but bear with me: are the roommates in the literal same room, like are there four girls in one room? Or am I reading that incorrectly? I'm just trying to picture it. How big are the rooms? I hope they can sort things out.

Kari said...

My heart sank for Mini. I can't imagine not liking someone you'll be living with for nine months. Anna shared a quad with three other females her freshman year. They all got along, and the dorm was large enough. BUT, they all got to talk about it beforehand on social media, and they chose each other. I'll be thinking about her.


Kara said...

That's going to be tough for Mini. I hope she finds her tribe quickly, and maybe finds someone she'll like rooming with more.

Our school encourages kids to roommate shop, and fill out a pretty extensive questionnaire. My daughter seems to get along with her roommate. They're probably not going to be best friends for life, but they get along well. They wrote a pretty extensive roommate agreement - light clean weekly, deep clean every three weeks (they have their own bathroom that will need to be cleaned) no overnight guests without asking the roommate ahead of time, company ok until 10 PM without asking, etc.

Nance said...

WHEW! Do you know how much a new fob costs? LOTS.

My freshman year, the college overbooked housing. My room was a converted lounge with three other girls, two of whom were there on a special program called "Freshman Experience"--meaning they were not really college material, but were accepted under special circumstances.

It was a Nightmare. They had other FE kids there at all hours, stole my food, never went to class. Other residents on the floor were resentful because there was no lounge. Luckily, they flunked out. My next roommate was better, but there were still a few problems.

Mini will get it figured out. It's part of college, I think.

Ernie said...

mbmom- Yes, roommates can be tough and Mini got a rough deal. I'm surprised Notre Dame doesn't make more of an effort to match kids with kids who they might get along with.

The key thing - scary. When we travel long distances I often grab the other set of keys for my purse.

Another tearful phone call from Mini last night. Sigh.

Ernie said...

Jeannie - Yikes. That flute story is so funny . . . in hindsight, especially since sister didn't find out. Glad it was recovered. Bulled dodged.

Ernie said...

Pat - Yes, I have heard how pricey it is to replace these fobs. As you can see, I failed to do my research and I didn't spell it correctly. ;)

Roommates - a slippery slope and a part of college life that can add stress needlessly. Sigh. My VERY quiet sister had a party girl roomie as a freshman. They were in different places in life. Mini's roommates aren't the party type. Still, not clicking. At this point, I think the rest of the adjustment is more challenging than the roomies.

Ernie said...

Colleen - My freshman roommate was fine, but she had a boyfriend across the street at Notre Dame. 2nd semester she decided that she should make more of an effort to hang with the girls. That was awkward because we'd made our friends and she was kind of immature or socially silly. She ended up moving out of my room eventually. That was a source of shame because my folks blamed me. Ouch.

At this point, she is handling the roommate just fine. They go their own way. It is the not knowing who is going to be her future good friends that is really taking a toll. Praying for patience and for her to meet the good friends that will make the difference.

Ernie said...

Nicole - Close call indeed. Thank heavens for a good bounce and not a bad bounce.

I was writing about the details of the room arrangement but I cut it. There are three rooms. Two of the rooms have two girls sleeping in them. Then there is a common room. The sleeping rooms are very small. Like 8 x 12, maybe. The common room is a little bit bigger. Maybe 9 x 12- but then again, that room might be the same size and only feel bigger without beds in there.

She is fine with the roommates now. She doesn't hang out with them. Her roommate is very immature and a little strange. Was very clingy early on and Mini felt that made it hard to find her people.

Ernie said...

Kari - Thanks. Yep. I was hoping that she'd click with at least one of them. Mini is very fun and easy going and laid back. One girl - painfully quite. One girl - painfully 'everything is sunny', not able to just be herself - puts on a fa├žade, and one girl (the one she shares a sleeping space with) is very immature and odd. Was very clingy early on, but that has fixed itself. Mini doesn't really have any issues with them - they aren't mean and they don't struggle with boundaries or anything. They just aren't her people.

That is the real struggle, finding her tribe when she is super busy with school work. Thanks for thinking of her. It isn't easy to hear her upset on the phone.

I'm going there on Saturday for a football game. I care very little about the football game. I GET TO SEE MY GIRL!

Ernie said...

Kara - She has found a few girls that she likes, but they aren't necessarily connected with one another. So that is the issue. She'd like to mesh with a group of girls, not a girl here and a girl there.

I wish there had been an exhaustive roommate application. It would be nice to have some things in common with the people she lives with. I know she will be fine, but this is a difficult phase. Sigh.

Ernie said...

Nance- I recently learned how pricey a fob is. That's another funny story.

Yikes that college roommate thing sounds awful. A converted lounge? Roommates ill equipped for college? How frustrating.

I do hope Mini finds a group soon. She is really unhappy, not necessarily because the roomies are not her people but because she is not yet sure who her people even are. It's a process. I've encouraged her to be patient. But it hurts my heart to hear her so distressed.

Cindy said...

Oh my word! "Welcome to college!" I hope and pray things improve for Mini, and soon!

Eli said...

Oh, those key fobs... I washed and dried mine this summer without realizing. One of my kids pulled it out of the dryer the morning we were supposed to leave a vacation house...

We were the only ones left (me and my kids) with no spare key available within a hour drive. Thank goodness it still worked!

I'm sending good vibes for Mini to find her group soon.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Poor Mini. I hate the roommate part; it would be easier if they had something in common. Or if her roommate was TALL, that would even be easier.
I'm sure there is some sort of lesson here, though...learning tolerance? Unless you get a concussion, then you learn nothing. *sigh*

Dying at the vision of the key fob fumbling down to oblivion. What is going on with your husband lately? He's having some blond/weird moments. Maybe the kids all leaving is getting to him?

My husband misplaced a fob to my vehicle. I was livid. We looked for weeks before I went and bought one: $750!!
A week later I had his truck detailed and the cleaners found my fob in his truck. Arrggghhh! I was ready to shank him.

Sending good vibes in Mini's direction.

Jenny in WV said...

Jeannie, I had to laugh at your flute story. I never lost a piece down a sewer grate, but my flute case did come open and the pieces tumbled down the Junior High stairs! Flute cases are flimsy!

I am assuming mid-lofted means a height somewhere between a bottom bunk and a top bunk height. I'm short so I would have hated that. I preferred a normal height bed, I'd rather lose the storage space.

Beth Cotell said...

Peter and his roommate did NOT get along at all last year. In fact, they barely even spoke to one another. But they both made friends seperate of each other and it all worked out. It just made Peter's freshman year more stressful than it needed to be. Hopefully Mini can make it work and will quickly find other friends!

Ernie said...

Cindy - Thanks. I am confident it will improve soon.

Ernie said...

Eli - Thanks for the good vibes for Mini. I'm looking forward to seeing her this weekend at our tailgater.

Wow, thank goodness the fob still worked after it went through the wash. At a reunion weekend with Coach's family a few years ago, one of his siblings took our keys home, or we found their keys. Something happened - I don't remember the details. I just remember that we were relieved it had happened in such a way that no one was stranded. I think we just had to exit near their house on our way home and drop off their keys.

Ernie said...

Suz - My eyes bugged out of my head at the cost of your key fob (look, I learned how to spell that). Yikes.

I was going to compare Coach's behavior that weekend to J Lo in the movie What to Expect When You're Expecting. J Lo is adopting a baby and she started to lose it, thinking she doens't have everything in the diaper bag. Her husband is like IT'S GOING TO BE OK. I wanted to look at my husband and ask if he was feeling all discombobulated with Mini leaving us. IT'S GOING TO BE OK.

A tall roommate might have solved some of it. Mini is not a very tolerant person, when someone bugs her - she is irritable. She takes after her mother. She did tolerate her one classmate - the try-hard one who won at class president. I was always amazed she never smacked that chick upside the head. I'm hoping when I see her this weekend that we can take a peek at her room. That pool noodle better be in position.

I'm confident that things will improve for Mini. Thanks for thinking of her.

Ernie said...

Jenny - Flute cases are flimsy. So are flutes, if struck on a sibling's head. My brothers learned this lesson when they were quite young. I was happily uninvolved in their spat.

Yes, midloft is short enough that you can climb into your bed - maybe with a crate or a foot on the bottom rail of the footboard. It allows for things to be stored under the bed. With no close and no dresser, it would have been helpful.

Ernie said...

Beth - Oh, that sounds so uncomfortable for Peter. I guess it does force one to go out and meet other people. Mini doesn't really have any issues with her roommates. She isn't going to hang out with them, but they are fine. The issue is identifying people that she can be friends with. She never thought it would take this long, because she's always had a large group of friends. I know it will all work out, but it is hard to hear her so upset. I'm going there on Saturday. I can't wait.

Ally Bean said...

College roommates can be difficult, thrown together like you are with a stranger. I feel for Mini, but trust she'll find her way when it comes to future ones. As for Notre Dame not helping connect kindred spirits, that's wrong. It costs a king's ransom to go there, it's the least they could do.

Ernie said...

Ally - It is awkward to be tossed into a room with someone and then expected to act like living together is normal. Maybe it's my age, but the thought makes me cringe.

I died laughing at 'it costs a kind's ransom to go there' - well, that's the truth. Mini is on a scholarship and pays for food only (phew), but the place has resources. Why not work a little at the matching kids with kids who share something in common? Goodness.

Jeanette said...

At one of the jobs I had I always had to park in a spot right next to a huge sewer grate! I was always petrified that I would accidently drop my keys in it so I would grip them like my life depended on it! It probably did because it was always dark and I could have been stranded for quite a while! God luck to your daughter and her room mates!

Ernie said...

Jeanette - Oh, that would've been bad if your keys had fallen in. Great that you had hands of steel. Thank you. I saw her yesterday at the ND game. She is still struggling to adjust.