Never stifle your coolness!

Dear Amy: My 17-year-old grandson comes to visit us once a year (we live on opposite coasts).

He has always brought his faded and well-worn baby blanket (measuring about 3 feet square) and his favorite well-worn stuffed animal.

It was cute when he was smaller, now it’s downright embarrassing.

He makes his bed and neatly folds his blanket on top of the pillow along with the stuffed animal.

He’s going to college next year. I’m afraid if he shows up in his dorm room he will be ridiculed forever.

I haven’t spoken to my son about this. None of my business?

– Embarrassed Gran

Dear Embarrassed: Wait. This 17-year-old makes his bed? Please, send him to my house!

What about his loving behavior is embarrassing to you? The fact that he brings his most cherished and comforting friends along with him, and that he treats his possessions – and yours – so respectfully? In my opinion, you should be honored.

Please. He’s fine. He will not be the only young person to bring comfort objects on his life’s journey. Let this go. It most definitely is none of your business. (c) Ask Amy

Oh my. I agree with Ask Amy. In fact, I think that every college freshman should be required to pack a stuffed animal for the dorms. I lived in the dorms freshman year, and I was an emotional mess, but no one ridiculed me. Well, actually, they might have and I just didn’t notice. [Shrugs.]

But what I’m remembering is being at my mom’s house. I should explain that my alma mater is eight blocks up the street from here (my dad’s house). My mom’s house was in the closest neighborhood to this one (she no longer lives there). So as a frosh, I traveled. I stayed in the dorms but was at both parents’ houses all the time.

(I was required to live in the dorms for the experience, and after freshman year, I decided to just stay here at my dad’s house.)

(This is neither here nor there, but the one thing I couldn’t handle about living in the dorms was the shock factor. I was terrified of the doorknob at the entry of our suite. There are electric shocks, and then there are moments where you feel like you’ve been struck by lightning. I kept trying to open the door with a washrag, and now that I recall–aha! I was ridiculed, for that reason. People are idiots.)

(Come to think of it, though, when they’d mock me for grabbing a washrag, and I’d say, “Well, do you want to open the door for me?” they’d turn green and mutter, “Oh come on. You can open the door yourself,” before turning tail and running for it. I’m not joking about how shocking those huge metal doorknobs were.)

But I digress. I think even my roommate, who was “cool”, had a stuffed animal. Oh dear, I’d forgotten–she ran screaming to another room. Yeah, she abandoned me.

Then I had a new roommate, a nice older student who was going to join the Navy. But anyway.

What I remember is being at my mom’s house, and she was criticizing me for using colorful, swirly ink pens. To clarify, they wrote with navy blue ink, but their casings were colorful and swirly and came in all different pretty colors. (Am I being redundant? I’m falling asleep, I think.)

“You can’t use such childish ink pens! You’re in college now. You’re an adult. You have to grow up,” she declared.

My reaction was to call her a foe, very loudly. “FOE! FOE!”

She was nonplussed. “And quit carrying that stuffed rabbit with you everywhere! I can’t believe my mother bought it for you! It’s a stuffed toy, for God’s sakes!”

“Don’t talk that way about Fluffy!” I shrieked, grabbing him and clutching him to my bosom. “FOE! FOE!” I pointed at my mom in accusation.

Oddly enough, although I didn’t intend it at the time, the name took, and we became a family of foes. My mom was Foe, my sister was Ellen-Foe, my brother was Philip-Foe, and I was Foey. (My dad was Codger, though. Still is.)

After over twenty years of being called Foe, my mother had a talk with me.

“I didn’t want to say anything, but can you quit calling me Foe? I don’t care for it.”

“Hmm.” I thought for a minute. Maybe she deserved to be forgiven already. “I guess so,” I said. “What should I call you?”

We settled on Mo, which is great. You know, it rhymes with Foe. And since I’m still a foe (always will be), she and I together are a sweet Mo Foe. Okay, in retrospect, this seems hilarious.

Fluffy later got eaten by a basset hound. [Facepalm.] That poor stuffed bunny!

6 thoughts on “Never stifle your coolness!

  1. Omg poor Fluffy!! I took my (fairly large) teddy to uni and I remember when there was a fire drill early in the morning and it wasn’t until I’d got to the meeting point up a hill that someone pointed out I was in my pyjamas clutching a teddy 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The kid is 17. If he’s ever had peers his age over, then either he’s already been ridiculed for baby blanket and stuffed animal and doesn’t care because he likes them, or his peers were totally unfazed by his baby blanket and stuffed animal. There are worse coping mechanisms one can have for the adjustment to college life.

    Also, I feel like the definition of cool/uncool changes over time and that the kids today have totally different ideas. Not that Buzzfeed is an authoritative source on the youth of today and I’m sure there are regional differences, but I definitely get the impression that Gen Z and younger think questioning your gender/sexuality is not strange, being outwardly gay is fine, and seeing a therapist is totally normal. Baby blankets and stuffed animals may really be no big deal to kids today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those are good points!! Especially about the changing nature of coolness!! Yeah, society has certainly changed in that regard!! And it’s fascinating to witness all these changes!! I also wonder if the belief that all (or most) teenagers are going to ridicule others is stereotypical! Most of the teenagers I grew up with weren’t outwardly ridiculing, not that I ever saw!! Maybe (we can hope) most teenagers are nice and accepting!! I mean, surely it’s not ALL like, “Oh you have to be perfectly cool in every way, or we’ll destroy you like vampires,” is it? I hope not!!

      Liked by 1 person

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