A little over a week ago, we moved our youngest daughter to Toronto for school. While I wasn’t expecting it to be easy, neither was I expecting it to be quite so…interesting.
First, let me set the stage for you a little bit…oh, and you might want to grab a cup of tea/coffee, because there’s really no short version for this story. 😉
Daughter is 21, and is the last of three to leave home. She also has Asperger’s Syndrome, which comes with a whole host of challenges…the most significant of which is a difficulty in adapting to change. So…here she was, moving out on her own for the first time, five hours from home, to a far bigger city than she’s accustomed to, starting school (after homeschooling most of her life), having to learn a new public transit system, and moving in with roommates she’d never met before. Challenge enough for most kids, even without the Asperger’s, right?
But all that, as they say, was only the tip of the iceberg. Here’s how the week played out:
Tuesday morning: We left Ottawa almost two hours later than intended, because goodbyes turned out to be way more difficult than daughter anticipated, especially where leaving her beloved cat was concerned. But–and where daughter is concerned, this was huge–we did leave. As in made it out the door, into the packed-to-the-gills vehicle, and onto the road. Hubby did all the driving because I’d managed to injure my knee on Sunday, and I was on muscle relaxants that knocked me for a loop (my daughters refer to them as my “happy pills” 😛 ). After several hours and many stops, we arrived in Toronto at the house in which daughter is renting a room.
We’d found the place on an earlier trip in November, at which time it had just been renovated and was still empty. Since then, an additional bedroom had been added, upping the roommate count from three to four (including daughter), her three roommates had already moved in, the second-floor laundry had flooded and caused major damage to the second floor, the main floor, and the separate apartment in the basement, and repairs were and still are ongoing (no biggie, because daughter is well used to living in reno chaos with us 😉 ). We signed the lease, scoped out the bedroom daughter would have, unload the boxes, and met The Three Roommates…
Ever seen the movie Mean Girls? That. It turned out daughter would be living with three of the nastiest divas I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet. At first, it didn’t seem toooo bad. The Three Roommates were standoffish, but civil, and hey, sometimes it just takes time to get to know people, right? So I glued a somewhat disillusioned daughter back together, and we headed for the friends’ house where we were staying while we got her settled.
Wednesday was an insanely busy day of shopping and getting things moved in.We hadn’t brought daughter’s furniture with us, because renting a vehicle for a one-way haul would have been more expensive than buying a bed, desk, and dresser at IKEA (and, as it turned out, I couldn’t have driven ours anyway). So off to IKEA we went. A bit later, while hubby assembled furniture, daughter and I did an inventory of the kitchen to see what was needed. The answer turned out to be pretty much everything, because that was one woefully under-equipped kitchen. One of The Three Roommates wandered in, and I asked if there was anything in particular they wanted, because I’d be happy to pick it up for them in order to make life more comfortable. The response was a shrug, a rather cold look, and an “I don’t think so.” Daughter, who is acutely sensitive to negative energy, headed upstairs to hide out with her father.
A second trip to IKEA was made, this time for just about everything a kitchen could possibly need. Daughter likes to cook and bake, and is used to working in a well-stocked kitchen. Expensive? Very. But I was scrambling to compensate for the less-than-appealing environment by making her feel as at-home as possible in her new place so she’d have a firm foundation for school. The common living space was about as bland and stark as you can imagine, so we also bought a few decorative things: a lantern with a candle, some stones and potpourri for the display coffee table, a picture for the wall, a couple of cushions and a blanket for the sofa, and a couple of tablecloths for the dining room. All of this took longer than anticipated, so instead of staying at her new place as intended, daughter returned with us to our friends’ house for a second night.
On Thursday, daughter had school orientation for the morning, and then we headed back to the new place to continue setting up. Hubby finished putting together the bedroom, and daughter and I unpacked all her kitchen things and replaced the food-encrusted tablecloth (eww) with one of the new ones. We also cleaned the half-inch of grease from the stovetop (double eww), wiped down the food-splattered cabinet fronts, scraped off the counter, and swept and washed the kitchen floor as daughter shuddered and resigned herself to being the self-appointed maid in the house for the foreseeable future. Sinking ever further into anxiety and depression, she stayed with us again that night.
Friday: This was it. This was the day we would get her fully unpacked and moved in. She started school on Monday morning, and we were running out of time. We had to get her settled enough to stay on her own. Back to the new place. One of The Three Roommates was up and about when we arrived at noon but would only speak to us when asked a direct question. The kitchen had a new layer of grease covering it. The new tablecloth had been removed and the food-encrusted one put back on the table. The candle lantern had been relocated from the coffee table to daughter’s shelf in the kitchen, and the negative energy in the house was palpable. Daughter retreated to a corner with her iPhone, going into near full-on melt-down mode. I’d thought my heart couldn’t sink any lower, but it did. Hubby started putting together some shelves for the living room, and I set to work on the bathroom daughter would be sharing with one of the girls. We’d thought the tub was badly stained, but, sadly, that was not the case (gag). Twenty-five minutes, a half-can of Comet, and many rinses later, the tub was white again. Just as I finished scouring the sink and counter as well, daughter fairly danced into the room with NEWS.
It turned out that one of the tenants in the separate basement apartment had given notice, freeing up a room there. The other tenant there was moving in on Saturday, and was starting the same program as daughter on the following Monday. She’d already been texting back and forth with him, and he was completely amenable to the idea of sharing the place with her.
I swear I heard angels singing.
In short order, arrangements were made, current roommates informed (they said nothing), and daughter returned with us to our friends’ house.
Saturday: We met daughter’s new roommate in person–a perfectly delightful young man–and began moving daughter’s things down two flights of stairs to the new, new place. Old tenant hadn’t yet vacated, but was supposed to do so that afternoon, so we piled everything in the living room and left for a shopping run at Costco, dinner, and a well-deserved evening at the movies. And yes, daughter stayed with us at our friends’ again.
Sunday: We had breakfast, made another stop at IKEA followed by a grocery run, and then headed back to the new, new apartment…only to find that the old tenant hadn’t yet moved a single thing. Minor panic set in. Daughter (and her roommate) were supposed to start class at 8:00 a.m. the next morning, and we’d been unable to unpack and put away a single thing. Deciding enough was enough, I cleaned the bathroom and then cleared out the kitchen cupboards and put all of former tenant’s things on the table. Roommate’s mom arrived in the midst of things and pitched in to help clean the kitchen and stock the cupboards. Roommate helped me clean out the fridge and bag old tenant’s perishables, and then, just as we were about to put those outside (where it was cold enough to mimic refrigeration), old tenant himself arrived at last. With the help of a friend, he was moved out of the place in record time…although not before we learned the reason for his move was–yep, you guessed it–the three lovely young ladies living upstairs. sigh
We finished installing daughter in her new room at 7:45 p.m., and she stayed her first night in her new apartment…only to text me at 11:30 p.m. about the insane noise coming from the three girls upstairs, who had also jacked the heat up on the furnace so high that daughter and roommate were nearly roasting…in the basement…argh. Daughter had been up to the connecting door to request that they turn down the heat (they control the only thermostat in the house, and they’d set it to 30C/86F). She’d been told to “f*** off,” and one of the girls had tried to block the door–one of the fire escapes for the basement suite–with a chair. At 1:00 a.m. daughter’s roommate (smart boy) simply turned off the furnace master switch. At 1:30 a.m., the noise died down, and sleep–at daughter and roommate’s end, at least–was finally managed.
Hubby and I returned home on Tuesday. Daughter and I were both a bit of a mess that day, but things are slowly settling into a new routine for us. She’s made friends, found a nearby grocery store, successfully navigated the bus to school on her own, and remembered to eat three times a day…most days. 😉 I’ve completed my first grocery shopping trip that didn’t involve buying her favourite things, moved my stuff into the bathroom she vacated, and stopped having heart failure every time I get a text notification from her. Trust me…this is serious progress. 😀
The upstairs trio continue to be a problem with both heat and noise. Daughter avoids all contact with them, she and her roommate are keeping track of every incident, and the landlord is now looking for legal recourse. She and her roommate are also still living on concrete floors, awaiting installation of the new laminate–but even with all of that,
she looks and sounds happy…and is comfortable enough to wear a unicorn onesie to school. 🙂
For a girl who doesn’t like change, she’s handled the tsunami with remarkable aplomb. I’m beginning to think this school thing might work out after all. 😉