The Secret to Not Losing It When Your College Kid Returns Home

Do you want to know the secret to not running away from your own home like a crazy person when your college kid returns? Whether it’s for a holiday break, summer vacation or because they withdrew (which let’s just say might have happened in my house), the secret is to collect Bonus Points.

Shhh….don’t tell anyone, but Bonus Points get me through the day, and you can get Bonus Points, too. Now, these aren’t points you get for clipping coupons or using Ebates. These are invisible points you give yourself every time you want to rip your hair out because of your adult-ish kid’s less-than-stellar behavior – but you don’t. You get to decide how many points you get each time you don’t lose your shit. Today, I earned 18 points.

When your college kid returns home, remember this strategy.
Mom is losing it (pathdoc/Shutterstock)

Here’s how it works:

This morning when I tripped over her laundry that she swore she’d do last night, I truly wanted to just take the whole gross pile and donate it to charity. Or burn it. But I didn’t. I kept on walking and told myself, “5 points.” She can do her laundry tomorrow, and there’s nothing I need to do about it. Except not trip over it when it’s tomorrow and it’s still not done. Who am I kidding? That’ll be 5 more points!

When I got home from work, I asked her how her day was. Apparently, I’m not allowed to ask her any questions that, as she puts it, stress her out. Sound familiar? After she snaps at me that she doesn’t have to tell me anything, then proceeds to tell me everything, I take a deep breath, clench my teeth so I don’t say what I really want to say, smile with my lips pursed, and then walk away without yelling, “I pay your freaking cell phone bill!” Sass your mom then pour your heart out? Oh my God. 7 points, I think.

As I’m getting ready for bed, she asks me what’s for dinner. Seriously? Seriously. It’s 9:30 at night. She’s been out with friends since about five. I figured she ate with them. Or not. Whoever was home ate together hours ago. I’m already thinking about breakfast! What’s for dinner. Come on. I wanted to mutter under my breath that I’m not a short-order cook, and this isn’t the dining hall on campus. Instead I said, “There are leftovers. Just don’t burn down the house.” 6 points for not screaming, “Are you kidding???”

So now that I have 18 points, what happens next? That’s the beauty of collecting Bonus Points – you get to decide what to trade them in for. It’s like imaginary Chuck E. Cheese’s tickets, except the prizes aren’t bouncy balls and lava lamps. A glass of wine perhaps? A night out with friends? A new book to curl up with? Chocolate covered Oreos? The more points, the bigger the prize. And your adult-ish kid gets to live another day. It’s a win-win.

You can tell your friends about your Bonus Points and even have a contest to see who earns more. You can use your Bonus Points to set a goal for yourself – if you don’t cash them in each day or week, save them for something really big, like a night in a hotel ALL BY YOURSELF. And the best part is that you can keep your points a delightful secret and not tell anyone, then all of a sudden go on a shopping spree and tell your family that you earned it. They will have no idea what you’re talking about, but when you come back smiling, they will be glad for whatever Bonus Points program it is you signed up for. Little do they know that you signed up for the “Parent a College Kid No Matter What Happens Program.”

Good luck to you and I’ll see you at Starbucks if she keeps it up.


This Was Definitely Not the Plan for My College Daughter. What Happens Now?

About Randee Bonagura

Randee Bonagura has two Grown and Flying daughters and is an elementary school administrator on Long Island. She stewards a Little Free Library, plays clarinet in a local ensemble, and loves to read and travel.

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