I knew my son was happy at college when he dug out his Elf costume to bring back to school after fall break.
It's hard with boys. It's taken me nearly 23 years of marriage and two teenage boys to almost, kind of, understand the way a man's mind works. My sons were my best friends in the whole world from birth until about kindergarten. All they wanted to do was be by my side. (My two girls, in contrast, both pushed their way out of the womb at lightening speed, as far as deliveries go, and have been marching independently ever since.)
My boys really adored me and separated ever-so-slowly when school started. Then sometime around those teenage years, my sons -- particularly my oldest -- went into his room, shut his door and we broke up. Every now and then, he shows a glimmer of interest and I jump at the opportunity. He may just ask a simple question and I chatter away, trying to keep the line of communication open.
Now that he's in college, just beginning his freshman year, I made a point not to be one of those overbearing moms bombarding him with intrusive text messages. Instead, I hunt for legitimate excuses.
A week into school, for instance, I found allergy medicine on his desk, and sent a text that went something like this:
Found allergy med. Want me to send it? BTW, how's school? How's your roommate? How's your dorm? Are you going to parties? Happy? What are the kids like?
His response: sure, send it.
My friends asked if he is happy and I answer in that lame no-news-must-be-good-news kind of thing. Seems to be doing well, but I really didn't know.
That is until last weekend, when he was about to leave for the train and he ran into the basement for the green tights, green jacket and beanie to be Elf again on Halloween.
I figure he may not be sending me deep emotional messages about how he's feeling, but I have to believe that if you are planning on looking like a jerk, walking through campus in bright green tights with a triangle hat, you've got to be comfortable in your surroundings and planning on something fun for the holiday.