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Barbara F. Meltz writes the Globe's Child Caring column. She is author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes, Understanding How Your Children See the World," and a frequent speaker to parent groups. Join her chat on the first and third Monday of the month at noon.
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mom's eyeview of campus life


What to know one of the best things I get in return for the many thousands of dollars we send off to my son's college? It's this: A live-camera shot of three spots on campus, including one called "Hi Mom."

At "Hi Mom," a student can appear live on-camera simply by standing in a certain spot in front of the book store. Of course, the student has to call and tell mom or dad he's there and you have to have access to your computer at that specific moment. I know, what are the chances? How many times have I seen my very own son on Hi Mom? Once last year. 0 this year.

I'm not holding my breathe.

No matter. I love Hi Mom anyway. It's a chance to see a slice of life on my son's campus and to feel connected in some teeny way. I click on Hi Mom at least once a day.

For instance, I love to see the weather there. You don't have to believe me, but it's really not because I'm worried whether he's dressed appropriately; if he's old enough to be at college, he's old enough to know whether he's hot or cold. I just like knowing that we are (or aren't) sharing the same weather experience.

Plus, I've seen some really interesting slices of campus life on Hi Mom. A young woman who was clearly introducing her new boyfriend. A young man who had gathered a few friends to hold up a "happy birthday, mom!" sign while they were obviously singing to her into the phone. One day, I watched a young man talk to someone on the phone, put down the phone, jump on the bench and show-off a breakdance kind of move, then pick up the phone again. Maybe that wasn't mom on the other end? I've seen a young woman sit on the bench in the camera's view intently arguing with the person on the phone (couldn't be mom!), then slam the phone shut and stalk out of view.

Today I watched a young man who wasn't on the phone and probably didn't even know he was on camera. He sat down on the bench and opened a bag he had probably just purchased at the book store and took out something red. Then he took off his shoes -- they were sturdy, black tie-shoes, ones you can just imagine some parent bought specially for college -- and put them in the bag. Those red things? Flip-flops. He put them on and walked out of view. I liked the new look.

I wonder if his mom was watching.

Posted by Barbara Meltz at 12:48 PM
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