A Day In The Life Of A Dorm Mom

5:30—Time to wake up and unlock the front door for my early-morning girls. Then go back to bed. Because it’s 5:30 in the morning and it’s still dark. If the sun’s not up yet, I’m sure not going to be.

7:30—Wake up again, this time at a much more reasonable time of day. Have breakfast, get dressed—it’s a school day, so I’ve got wear my teacher pants—no jeans. (Which, incidentally, since I didn’t know I was going to be teaching when I packed to come out here, I didn’t have teacher pants. Fortunately, on a trip to a second-hand market, my friend Stephanie and I found a stall where a little old woman looked us over, handed us each a pile of dress pants, and directed us to the shower curtain across the back of the stall that constituted the fitting room. Her slightly creepy once-over look had proved accurate, and the pants fit perfectly with the exception of being a little long. For an extra fifty cents, she hemmed them while we waited. That’s service right there.)

Do a quick check down the hallway to make sure the girls have cleaned their rooms. Write a note with the promise of extra chores for that one room that has yet again mistaken the floor for the closet.

8:10—Time for the Tuesday morning dorm parent meeting. Aside from the business of discipline policies, internet filters, student travel, student health, and so on, it’s a nice chance to meet with fellow dorm parents from around campus and catch up and encourage one another. Although I have yet to see what happens at the end of a meeting because…

9:15—Sneak out of the back of the meeting to set up for my class that starts in ten minutes.

9:25—Seventh grade computer class. Greet the munchkins, read the daily announcements and set them to work. They type for fifteen minutes and then there’s either a short lecture or an assignment. I wander the classroom, reminding Kai to stop singing and reminding Danny that he’s going to get detention if he keeps trying to watch soccer videos, and going back over the instructions I gave five minutes ago because junior highers have terrible short-term memories. They’re still kind of adorable, though.

10:12—Break time! Time to send the children to chapel and sit in the sun with my friend Hanna, the English teacher from the next classroom.

10:30—Chai time. The students have chai and snacks, and the staff meet in the staff chai room for prayer and announcements and snacks of our own.

10:50—Eighth grade computer class. This group is a little more chill than the 7th graders. They come in and get down to work without reminders, and chat quietly enough among themselves that I’m usually able to let it be. There’s usually a mild round of grumbling about homework, and one of these days they’ll figure out that if they took the time they spent in class griping about the assignment and used it to work on the assignment instead, they might just be done before class is over and thus not have homework. Their assignments are usually much more fun to read than the seventh graders’, though. Anna likes to include cute pictures of puppies in everything she turns in, Charlie tries to work in something related to Doctor Who in everything he writes, and Sean’s mission is to get me to allow him to turn in an assignment in Greek or Russian, while Sanmaek is on a quest to convince me that mermaids are real.

11:35—Class is over and I sit outside with Hanna and chat for a little while before swinging by the Arcade (on-campus store) for supplies or the library to pick out a weekend movie for my girls before heading home for lunch. I have a chat with Krista, who has study hall before lunch and likes to hang around the dorm drinking coffee. She calls me ‘Auntie’ which I think is really sweet.

12:25—The bell rings for lunch. Lunch is usually leftovers in my comfy chair, watching my girls come in and out. If there’s something good or new in the cafeteria, Brynne and Ella will come bounding in to tell me all about it. (There was ice cream for dessert last week, which apparently Brynne had been praying for since the third grade. She was so excited she was shaking.) I listen to the girls singing in the hallway, yelling to one another about homework and missing books or the panicked shout of someone who forgot to do their dorm job.

1:45—The girls go back to class and I head down the hallway to check all the dorm jobs. Usually the one that doesn’t get done is cleaning the bathroom sinks. Doesn’t matter whose week it is to do it. I have yet to figure that one out—it’s basically just wiping toothpaste off the counter. If it’s a gross-out factor or something, you’d think it’d be the toilets that didn’t get done, but those are usually pretty good. It’s a mystery.

2:15—Take advantage of the quiet in the dorm to get some grading done. (That or take a nap. Depends how loud the construction upstairs was and how early in the morning it started.) If I get the grading done on time, I’ll head to the dorm next door or downstairs to hang out with Cassandra and Emily, the two other single dorm moms. We’ll compare notes, make sure we’re up to date on all the inter-dorm relations, share amusing stories and have tea.

3:25—The girls come home from school. I like to make sure I’m there to greet them and see how their day was. On Tuesdays, snacks for our weekly dorm meeting are cooking, and hopeful little noses follow the tasty aromas to beg for a sample.

4:15—If there’s a sports game going on, this is usually when the other team arrives. I’ll head out to watch my girls that are on the JV basketball team. They’ve been pretty good this year—they’re doing well in their league, and sometimes get pulled up to play in varsity-level tournaments.

5:00—Head home and get dinner started and finish putting together the devotional for the dorm meeting. Right now we’re working through a series called Bad Girls of the Bible—things we can learn from the triumphs and mistakes of the less-than-perfect ladies of the Old and New Testaments. So far we’ve done Jael and Deborah, Rahab, the bleeding woman and the woman caught in adultery from John 8. That last one prompted a discussion on people editing ‘scandalous’ things out of the Bible, and the girls compared it to the way movies at RVA are editing for them to make them more appropriate.

7:00—The bell rings for curfew and all the girls have to be in the dorm. I lock the front door and several of the girls rush to take showers (they’re not allowed to shower during Study Hall). We have four showers and each girl has a specific one that she likes. They’re very strict on the favorite shower thing, and if someone is in ‘theirs’ they will wait, even if the other three are open. As far as I can tell, they’re all the same, but to each her own. Fortunately for all involved, we have solar water heaters—it saves electricity, and we usually always have hot water.

7:15—Study Hall. About half of my girls will get passes to go to the library, whether just because it’s quieter or for tutoring help. (We are not a dorm that is good at Algebra.) One of my girls has to come study in my apartment since her grades are struggling, and I think it helps, although she is entirely capable of distracting herself even with no one but me around. Some of the other girls will come in to study too, and they’ll quiz each other about Revolutionary France and the Lord of the Flies.

8:30—Time for Tuesday night dorm meeting. My fifteen girls will gather in my apartment and descend like locusts on the snacks, though they’re oddly much more polite with the Kool-Aid. The girls will sit down with their food, and wait patiently as Loren pours each person a cup. There’s always extra food for Lauren and Lynnsi, who don’t actually live here, but come faithfully every Tuesday. (They’re Station Kids—their parents work on campus, so they live at home and not in a dorm.) We spend some time on announcements—usually reminders about keeping the dorm kitchen clean and such, and the girls often get side-tracked off into announcements and discussions of their own. I love it—just being able to sit and listen to what’s going on in their minds, jokes and complaints and—OnYou’s favorite—who has a crush on who this week. We talked about electing dorm prefects at the last meeting, which was met with excitement from some, confusion from Lizzie, because why would you want to be a prefect if it didn’t get you out of doing a dorm job, and a ‘Vote for Loren’ campaign.

Once announcements and side topics are over, we start the Bible study, and usually have to wait for someone to go and get their Bible from their room. The girls have developed a system wherein no matter how many verses are in the story in question, we can circle the room starting with Brynne and ending with Marijke, and everyone has read part of the story. They were quite proud of themselves last week when the seventeen of them split 11 verses mostly evenly between them.

9:30—After we pray, some of the girls scamper off to claim favorite showers, others sit around talking and laughing or asking me questions, while Rachel and Zoey make puppy-dog eyes at what’s left of the snacks until I tell them they can take them. Lauren helps me pick up empty cups and the bean bags left on the floor, and then she and Lynnsi leave for their homes and vanish into the night.

9:42—Remind JiSoo that, yes, the internet is better in my apartment, but she has to be in her room in three minutes so she should probably go brush her teeth.


9:45—Quiet Time. Turn off the hall lights, shoo people out of the bathroom/lounge/rooms they don’t live in and back to their own rooms.

10:00—Light Out. I go down the hall and stop at each room, reminding them that Lights Out does in fact mean the lights have to be turned out. I chat with the ones that I didn’t get a chance to see during the day, we talk about those pressing questions that always seem to come up at bedtime and make sure everyone is doing okay and say goodnight. I remind Maggie to spit out her gum so it doesn’t get in her hair while she sleeps, check and make sure Esther is actually in bed because she’s so tiny I literally cannot see her up on the top bunk, and get band-aids for JiSoo who is forever skinning her knees and elbows in basketball.

After everyone is quiet (and ideally, sleeping), I go back and finish cleaning up in my kitchen, lock the doors and get ready for bed. I have a Memory Foam mattress topper and a pile of blankets that are my best friends on a windy Kijabe night. I snuggle in, read for a little bit to wind down and then go to sleep and get ready to do it all again tomorrow.