, Newburyport, MA

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February 28, 2007

The hardships of college life: Am I missing something?

Last year, my husband and I sent our oldest child off to college and experienced the typical assortment of parental worries. Would she eat right? Who would take care of her if she became ill? And, most importantly, why were all the dorm rooms surrounding hers filled not with bubbly coeds, but with large, sweaty football players?

That was last year. Now in the midst of her sophomore year, our daughter has settled nicely into college life, and we have calmed down. In fact, what used to be worry has transformed into something entirely different - a feeling I have trouble putting a name to.

Could it be ... envy?

Consider this recent round of e-mails:


The food here is not as advertised..Last night, there were only three choices for dinner: chicken marsala with linguini, stir-fried pork with snow peas, or couscous salad with peppers and olives. There's never any variety. Maybe you can send me $30 a week so I can buy some groceries.

- Your Loving Daughter

Darling Daughter,

Last night, we had only three choices for dinner here, as well. However, it turned out we had only enough peanut butter for one sandwich, so that left two options: the box of SpongeBob macaroni and cheese or the box of Scooby-Doo. We went with Scooby. Nobody complained, for fear, I think, of spending the rest of the evening blowing orange-powdered cheese out of both nostrils.

- Mom

P.S. If I had $30 a week to send you, I'd pay someone to do my grocery shopping.

Hi Mom,

I'm just back from a weekend in Montreal where we ate at some great French restaurants and danced at some cool clubs. I'm applying to study abroad next fall in Denmark - is that in Europe? - and also may take a winter term course in Costa Rica, studying the flora and fauna. Not sure what fauna is, but I'm hoping for a nice pre-season tan.

Hasta la vista.

- Your Eldest

Hola Eldest,

I'm just back from an exciting trip to the dentist where I learned I need a root canal. This weekend, I'm planning to go to the dry cleaners and, if I'm lucky, bring some soda cans to recycling. We may have to travel all the way to Hartford for your sister's spring soccer tournament. Do you think I could get a pre-season tan in Hartford?.

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