This article appeared in the August 27, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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On college, pandemics, and packing the important things first

Yvonne Zipp/The Christian Science Monitor
Nate Zipp during freshman move-in day at Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, Aug. 22, 2020.
Yvonne Zipp
Daily Editor

In our family, the books get packed first.

And so, when our son got ready to go away to college, the first crate was filled with thrift store paperbacks, beloved science fiction, and as many of his parents’ college books as would fit – weathered pages of home comfort to take a thousand miles away.

As parents, the temptation has been to measure the pandemic through the milestones he didn’t get – the canceled prom, the lack of pomp, the beloved job cut short. But somewhere between Zoom piano recitals and the third kind of bread I taught him to bake, our uncomplaining kid taught me resiliency.

I learned to appreciate unexpected joys, from the hilarity of a headmaster passing a diploma through a car window with a grabber, to the sandwiches and stacks of freshly folded laundry the teen handed us during busy workdays. And there was time. So much of it to read together and play old games and plant tomatoes and watch old sitcoms, and learn to repair old bikes and then go riding.

The will they or won’t they of college landed on will. The books were carefully chosen and lovingly packed. The clothes were pulled from the dryer and jammed in a duffel on the last day.

There will be many courses and professors over the next four years. But this class of incoming freshmen has already learned an awful lot about grit and persistence in the face of anxiety.

And to pack the important things first.


This article appeared in the August 27, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 08/27 edition
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