Hauling the Kids to College: Queen Bees and Worker Bees

It's that time of year again, when parents all over the country are hauling their kids to the college of their choice for move-in. When it is the first time and first year due to most kids going to dormitories, some of this behavior might not be accurate, but for every subsequent year, I guarantee in most cases everything I describe below will ring true.

During every move-in, if you are a keen observer of human behavior as I am, you will see Queen Bees (the kids) and the Worker Bees (the parents).

FYI: For those unfamiliar with bee behavior, the Queen Bee does next to nothing and her worker bees do all the work.

When I moved my daughter Elissa in for her sophomore year I took a good look around while giving my fatigued body a quick break. With student apartments everywhere around us, this was surely a hot spot -- a desirable place for students to live in proximity to the university, and filled to capacity with students.

At every angle that my eyes could see, there were weary parents, tiredness etched on their faces, and sweat pouring off their bodies thanks to the 90 plus degree temperatures. Some were hauling large things out of U-Hauls, some dragging things from large vehicles, some further along folding boxes out by the trash pile. In fact, if you took the combined total labor of worker bee parents just on this two block stretch, it would equal that of many large bee colonies.

And if you looked for the actual students, well, some were doing some of the work. Others were texting on their cell phone, others talking into cell phones, while some were hugging and catching up with friends not seen all summer, and still others were directing parents while not actually lifting a finger. My own little queen bee was missing in action through most of our hauling activities due to sorority rush obligations.

In this era, parents don't just send off kids to college. They personally deliver them. And then make sure they have every available comfort of home, along with a very well-stocked pantry and refrigerator.

Imagine this at each and every college town throughout the country. Not only do parents take care of the heavy lifting, loading, unloading, cleaning, organizing, decorating and arranging -- then there are the rounds of shopping.

Typically, the essential stops include that store with a red bulls-eye and the one with a bed in it's title, a pharmacy, and of course the food store. We were extra lucky this time in that we also had to squeeze in a visit to an office supply store for a piece of needed furniture and then a hardware store.

At the bedding store, mothers bring their stacks of saved-up coupons, and then stand in line to wait for a cart, since they are all used up on this "high season" day. Managers of these stores stand in the front, trying to keep everyone calm, while secretly enjoying the commotion; adding up the revenues of this "Christmas in August."

At the food store, carts get so full and heavy, it takes a strong brute of a father to steer it around. Many have two carts per one child -- one for the mom to command, and one for the dad. The students are pulling things off the shelf as fast as they can.

In the evening, the fanciest restaurants in town are swarming with parents giving their children their last supper -- or at least their last fancy supper on mom and dad's tab. But of course, the meal can't be truly appreciated by the parents who are about to drop from sheer exhaustion.

I kind of envy parents who cannot drive to their children's college because they let their fingers do the walking on the computer of course, and have become experts at "click it and ship it." Less lugging things in a truck on a driving move so less hauling. Yet, they still have the shopping frenzy to deal with once the room is set up.

For most of us, this wonderful event occurs at least once a year, and for some twice, as they also assist their kids with "move out" as well. Multiply that times the number of kids a parent has, and that is a large number of these tiring moves.

I have a friend who has quadruplets going to different schools. Lucky for her, two of them chose the same school, but she still has THREE different move-ins each year.

Because both my children went right on to graduate school, I was blessed with additional move-in years. And let's not even mention the year of the storage units.

Here's a salute to those moms whose knees are popping the day after and to those dads whose backs are aching today, who come back just a little bit lighter than when they left. (Lighter not necessarily from dropping weight from the physical labor, but because of a much lighter wallet.)

Read my regular blog at Arlenelassin.com