Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Aug. 26, 2004

Ready or not, there she goes!

It wasn't until Sunday - when Mariya disassembled her computer and put the various hardware pieces in her car - that it struck me. My "little girl" is now a college woman!

Although she started classes at Kansas State University last week, it didn't seem real that she already had taken her first steps on her journey away from home. Art's 60th birthday, Katie's first day of school and the beginning of my classes at K-State fell on the same day, adding to the hubbub.

I think the realization was also delayed because we were all so tired from working to get the apartment ready, causing the first few days of the semester to go by in a blur. It was 10 p.m. the night before classes began that we finished putting the air conditioner back together and laying bathroom carpet. Remodeling took a good portion of the summer, and we breathed a sigh of relief that it was done.

Mariya's first few days of college were pretty much like those of any freshman: finding where her classes would be, buying books and art supplies, buying groceries with her roommate, talking with someone at the cable TV company about getting cable installed, figuring out which cell phone plan to purchase and then exchanging cell phone numbers with friends and family members. There was even time to do a little homework.

Art commented that he had concluded from his years of advising students that there are three primary attitudes prevalent in students when they leave home to head off to college or work. Most look forward to the adventure of being on their own and having new experiences. A smaller group just wants to get away from home. The third is the complement of the second. Kids in this group find home so comfortable and, possibly, the world so foreboding that they don't want to leave home - ever. Mariya certainly seems to fall in the first category.

I'm not sure what kind of shape I'd be in if she had chosen to go to college in another town or another state. She's only 20 minutes away and I've already seen more of her in her few days at K-State than I did when she was in high school, what with her stopping by my office and going to lunch together. Still, the fact that she no longer sleeps in her room every night and isn't here for family meals has created a change in our family dynamics.

Cookie, our cat, noticed the change. Always preferring Mariya to the rest of us, she's now cozying up to us. Still, one night last week when I went to Mariya's room to look around at the posters and stuffed animals that still fill her room, I saw Cookie curled up at the foot of her bed. She looked up at me and meowed softly as if to ask where her mistress was.

Katie had trouble going to sleep the first night Mariya was away.

"Mariya won't be here to take me trick-or-treating at Halloween, and maybe she won't be home for Christmas, and I don't want to do Easter baskets any more if she isn't here to help me find them," she said in one breath.

Katie, a real traditionalist, gets upset when the routine changes.

But by Monday, when a neighbor asked what she thought about being the only child at home, Katie just smiled and replied, "It has its advantages. I don't have to fight for the bathroom in the morning now!"

Mariya�s first day at Kansas State University with me and pals Cally Bitterlin and Frank VanBebber.

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