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TTYL, College Kid of Mine

The Joys of Keeping In Touch by Text with Your Out-of-State Son


Right now, high school seniors throughout the country are receiving admission decisions from colleges. Over the next few months, their parents will begin grappling with the chest-tightening realization that their children — the very lives they created, cultivated, and cherished for nearly two decades — will no longer be within hugging distance. Or even “WHO GOT MUD ON THE FRICKING SOFA?!”–hollering distance.

Allow me to relieve your anxieties, my fellow moms and dads. As someone who was in your shoes a year ago, I can attest that your home will feel different without your kid in it, and your relationship will undoubtedly … shift. But with any luck, you can maintain a bond like the delightful one my oldest son and I still manage to share from seven states apart.

Sure, I don’t get to hear his voice much because it’s “awkward” for him to chat freely, out loud in front of his roommate, with the woman who withstood chilling glares from countless strangers when he used to shriek in restaurants as a toddler. But hey, I totes get it! I’m chill! And he and I, we just understand each other like that.

The great thing is you can develop an amazing new repartee via text! Whether you’re sending “Happy Tuesday! Use a condom!” messages or links to news stories you know your child will love, you’ll treasure the sweet nuances of the intergenerational digi-dialogue. Why, just today, I texted my son that his father, brother, and I will be coming to his school’s Family Weekend in New Orleans in the fall. Won’t that be fantastic? All of us together again on campus!

“oh boy” he texted. Just like that. With no punctuation or emoji or anything. Clearly, he meant it literally, because why would he type it if he didn’t mean it? He’s way too busy to type things he doesn’t mean.

I know that he’s busy because sometimes he doesn’t text me back for a whole day. Or more. When I asked him about that, he (eventually) replied:

I don’t mind the occasional text, I just may not respond :) I have a bad habit of disregarding them. It’s like “oh another trump article” or something that I’ll tell myself I’ll read later … but then don’t remember.

Haha! See? We go back and forth like this, having soul-bearing conversations, our fingers flying, the time just slipping away. Does a mother’s heart good. Sometimes, though, he’s so excited to chat that he texts me when he’s supposed to be listening to a lecture! It’s bad, but you can’t fault a boy for missing his mom. Even when said mom is staving off a much-needed house painting in order to pay the tuition so he can attend said lectures. So … how often does he text during class?

Depends on the class. If it’s Political Thought in the West, I would rather receive a text saying the world is ending than listen to more of that guy’s babbling. Short answer: fairly often.

Sometimes we’ll all FaceTime together. We gather with his 11-year-old brother on the sofa to grin at the iPhone, comment on his dorm décor, and share stories … like his recent detailed account of the pornographic acts depicted on Mardi Gras floats and the X-rated toys being tossed to gleeful bystanders. It was just like old times, my husband and I mouthing “NO!” and “STOP!” while his brother interrupted, “Wait, what’s THAT?!” Still generating fun family memories, even 1,671 miles apart.

That’s how far away he is, according to Find My iPhone — which I do not use to track his whereabouts … unless I haven’t heard from him and I’m afraid he might be dead. The few times I’ve tracked him, he’s always in his dorm, which only tells me that he may be dead in his dorm and no one has noticed. Or that he left his phone in his dorm, was hit in the head with a flying sex toy, and is currently being dragged dead under a Mardi Gras float. But so far, neither scenario has been true, and I’m sure it won’t happen to your college-bound kids, either. Good luck!

Starshine Roshell is the author of Broad Assumptions.



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