Schlepping Kids Off To College: Worker Bees and Queen Bees

It’s that time of year again when parents are hauling their kids to the college destination of their choice. I published this a long while back when my therapist daughter Elissa was still in college, but it is still true. Note to newbies: Have fun. And be prepared to get a massage a few days later. (And MAD PROPS to Gary Lassin who participated in ALL of our FIVE combined kids move-ins through grad schools)

Oh, and by the way, don’t delude yourself into thinking that this ends post college. The schlepping continues for just about every young adult move – that is until they discover a novel concept called PROFESSIONAL MOVERS.

The Worker Bees (Parents) and the Queen Bees (Kids)

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

At one point this past weekend as I was hauling something with my fatigued body towards the house my daughter Elissa is renting, I took a look around. Elissa has picked a hot spot on campus – a desirable place for students to live in proximity to the university, and filled with rental houses and apartments catering to 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 100 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. These lucky students are, of course, the queen bees in this scenerio. My own little queen bee was missing in action through most of these 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, and arranging — then there are the rounds of shopping.

Typically, the essential stops include Bed, Bath and Beyond (BBB), Target, the pharmacy, and the food store. We were extra lucky this time in that we also had to squeeze in a visit to Office Max and a hardware store.

Mothers bring their stacks of saved-up BBB 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.

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 with the yellow pages,” and have become experts at “click it and ship it.”  Less lugging, less hauling.

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.” Multiply that times the number of kids a parent has, and that is a large number of these tiring moves.

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

Because my son Brett went right on to graduate school, I was blessed with additional move-in years. Fortunately, he is remaining settled in the same place all three years of law school, so that is a major break for me. That just means replacing some items, and a major food shop or two each year. But trust me, I’ve served my time with him through undergrad and major U-Haul moves. (I am not going to even bring up the fun times with storage units)

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



  • Twelve more days..I wonder if I can get a doctor’s note to excuse me from the heavy lifting

  • Mine live at home, so they take the city bus to class. All I had for college was some clothes and school supplies. I left college with zero debt and no fancy stuff. I owned two suits through college for professional purposes. I worked in the cafeteria for four years to get free food. I had to use my birthday and Christmas money to buy books. I didn’t eat out much, but instead ate PBJ sandwiches on Sunday nights and popped popcorn for snacks. I didn’t starve or pack on the pounds either.

  • I was once such a queen bee. My own son lives at home and commutes. If he needs to move, he gets his burly weightlifter friends with trucks to help him. Much more helpful than feeble parental units without a truck or suv.

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