My College:
Family Life

I've Become the Town Crier

Marlene Kern Fischer

Ever since my older sons moved out of the house I have become the town crier.

Whenever there is news to share, I hop on my computer or smart phone and text or email them the latest. I let them know who is getting married, who is going to grad school, who invented a new app and is funding it through Kickstarter. Sometimes (and I hate this part) I inform them of bad things such as an illness, divorce or death.

Occasionally, the news is a front-page type of bulletin — a friend’s son got signed by the Boston Red Sox! — but more frequently, my reports are pretty trivial, such as the closing of the frozen yogurt shop or grilled cheese place in town. More often than not, especially when it comes to their peers, my sons (being light years ahead of me on social media) already know what’s up. (I’m still working with a string and tin cans while they use technology I’ve barely heard of.)

I am often a day late and a dollar short on the scoop but that doesn’t stop me from trying again and again. I can immediately tell if I’ve hit pay dirt and managed to impart fresh info by the alacrity with which they respond and their follow-up questions. And here’s the part they may not know; I am not sharing news because I am a busybody or gossip monger. My intention is to simply keep them connected to me and the life they have started moving beyond.

I'm glad that my sons are still mildly interested in the happenings in our town and within our immediate and extended family. I must confess to a degree of selfishness in my motives — I want them to know what’s going on in my world and to remain part of the community in which they grew up. I also admit that, with sons, it’s good to have a conversation starter since I’m unlikely (“highly unlikely” according to my husband) to talk about their teams’ injured pitchers or their fantasy leagues and I can only ask how work/school is and inquire about their health so many times in a week. Local and family tidings seem to be a good way to initiate a conversation.

I will even let you in on a secret — if I have more than one thing to convey I sometimes hold back to have a reason to text them another time. Why report a cousin’s pregnancy and a town scandal when I can parse out the info? Hey, a mom’s got to do what a mom’s got to do.

I thought my oldest son might be humoring me by pretending to act interested in my bulletins but when asked, he said he found some of my communiqués “helpful” and liked staying current so he knew what was going on when he came home. However, lest I get overly excited and think I was doing something too positive or constructive, he added that at times my updates were “inane” and compared them to “talking about the weather.” Recently, after I shared a few sad stories in a row, including the death of a beloved neighbor and a classmate’s illness, he temporarily suspended my right to deliver news briefings. I was reduced to texting jokes I got from Alexa, our Echo Dot. (Why did the banker quit his job? He lost interest.)

My middle son, who tends to cut me a little more slack, was more effusive and said he “loved being kept in the loop and staying connected.” He also pointed out that my husband’s mother still calls to keep her 56-year-old son apprised of gossip she hears regarding family, old friends and his hometown, even though he hasn’t lived there in 35 years and she doesn’t even live there anymore. I’m still considering how I feel about being told I’ve turned into the prior generation.

Although the bond I share with my children transcends bulletins and updates, it’s likely I will continue to call and text tidbits I deem newsworthy (or at least slightly interesting). In fact, I think I will text them a photo of the adorable new puppy our next-door neighbor just brought home.

College moms aren't above texting photos of the neighbor's cute new puppy in order to stay connected from afar to their kids!


Marlene Kern Fischer is a wife, mother of three sons and a newly gained daughter, food shopper extraordinaire, blogger and college essay editor. She recently published her first book, “Gained a Daughter But Nearly Lost My Mind: How I Planned a Backyard Wedding During a Pandemic.” A founding contributor at Collegiate Parent, her work has also been featured on Huffington Post, Grown & Flown, The New York Times (Modern Love), Kveller, Her View From Home and The Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. Find her on Facebook at “Thoughts From Aisle 4.”
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
4 years ago

With a son in college, this was fun to read and it gave me some ideas for keeping a dialogue going with him.

Liza Purvis
Liza Purvis
4 years ago

Fun but also useful article. I will keep the town crier technique in mind when my second Daughter leaves for college - as well as the Alexa Dot Joke tip! I love that Marlene's son told her her news was Often "inane". Clearly his education is paying off in an evolved vocabulary AT the very least!

4 years ago

Loved this write up. Sounds so much like me but am most of the time questioning them about their health and studies and your article gave me new ideas of staying connected.... Thank you. Will put it to good use soon since my son is going across the country to attend your alma mater ????

  • Holiday Gift Guide Ipad Phone

    Our holiday shopping list is full of awesome ideas that are on trend with what students desire this gift-giving season.

    Click Here to Download

  • Find Your University

    Don't Miss Out!

    Get engaging stories and helpful information all year long. Join our college parent newsletter!

    Subscribe Today