Single in Sandpoint: Back to School

By Scarlette Quille
Reader Columnist

Well, it pains me to say it, but summer  has started making its smoky exit. Life will be all about football, hunting, orange leaves and pumpkin spice now. 

It’s not my favorite time of year. The only thing I dislike more than pumpkin spice-scented shit is extra layers of clothing. September is all about wearing a parka and drinking coffee in the morning and by 4 p.m., you have to put on a bikini and make yourself a margarita. It’s bizarre. My car is full of the sweaty layers I peel off during the day at work. It smells like a locker room, with a hint of stale Doritos. 

I’m seeing a lot of Facebook posts from excited moms finally free from entertaining little ones all summer. Soak it in, mamas. Just wait until they are 18 and you have to drop them off at the dorms. You won’t be so smug. Just yesterday you were wiping boogers, buying school clothes and signing 400 permission slips. Now that little bundle you brought home from the hospital is learning the finer points of keg stands and road trips. Summer doesn’t seem that long once you have a couple of kids in college.

Just saying.

I dropped two of my daughters off this year at Boise State. One is a freshman and the other a sophomore, but to me, they are still 8 and 9 years old and fighting over who used all the hot water. The denial stage is running long for me, and I don’t even have an empty nest. I still have two in the house, and that might seem like a lot to some people, but for me it’s only 50 percent. I can tell you firsthand it’s the little things that sneak up on you after your kids leave the house.  

Suddenly a box of Goldfish lasts twice as long, and you no longer have to buy toilet paper in bulk. As a mom I’ve always imagined what it would be like to have more Goldfish and toilet paper than I needed, but when the day came there was no celebration. The two younger siblings have their own rooms for the first time ever, and yet they still find a way to sleep in each other’s room because all that space just makes them feel lonely. Be careful what you wish for, right?

 As far as dropping them off at college goes, it wasn’t scary in the ways  I thought it would be. Boise State is a bigger, newer campus than it was when I was there, for sure. However, the most significant difference that I observed is that college dorms are a whole lot fancier than they were in 1994. Sure you have the same bare bones awkward shared spaces, but these days the college students participate in a flurry of decorating, renovating and creating an Instagram-worthy space, before they even think about going to their first party. 

There were at least four Kuerigs in the shared living space. I didn’t even own a coffee maker until I was 30. Each of her roommates had some sort of Pinterest-inspired “space” complete with throw pillows and rugs. It has to be exhausting to be a kid these days. The big ticket items in my dorm room were a boombox and a crockpot. I can’t even imagine what kind of extravagant furnishings my 7 year old will require once he gets to college. The kid can already program a DVR and order things from Amazon Prime.  

The point is that they grow up fast, and no matter how ready you think you are to have the house to yourself, it’s still a little disappointing. I’ve spent the majority of the last six months watching YouTube tutorials on how to turn a school bus into a traveling home, so when it’s just my son and I left, we can drive our bus home (they call them “Skoolies”) to wherever  the sisters live and visit them. I think they will just love that: “Oh look, my mom’s parking her school bus house in the dorm parking lot. Maybe she’ll cook us dinner.” 

That’s how I imagine it going, except I don’t have the bus yet. Also I suck at cooking. Two years is enough time to work on that, right? As for my son, he has fully embraced the idea of a “Skoolie.” For one thing, he now understands that personal space is overrated, and for two, he enjoys discussing things like composting toilets and diesel fuel efficiency with anyone and everyone. I love every single one of those strange conversations, because I know it will be over way faster than I want it to be. 

Hug those school kids, parents, and also hug a mom whose kid left for their last first day of school this year, and buy huge amounts of expensive liquor for the mom who’s kid left for college. It’s the right way to celebrate fall. 

Going to buy that school bus soon — we only have two years to get it up and running.  

This empty nest is going mobile,

Scarlette Quille

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