Every parent’s weekend feels like controlled chaos. The Grewcock Student Union becomes an open bar, bringing parents and students together for a night of friendly conversation and devastating matchmaking. Professors meet the people who raised their students and reassure families their children will survive the semester.
The semi-annual occasion gives freshmen a chance to show their families how much they’ve grown and to shock their parents with harrowing tales of their first two months in college.
An event awaited with either dread or anticipation, parents’ weekend can be a joyful reunion for some and an uncomfortable meeting for others. Like Ramen noodles, it doesn’t last long and is significantly more attractive to students strapped for cash. My mother’s mandatory trip to the Jonesville Wal-Mart has always left me wondering how I lived in such squalor.
Nevertheless, it’s an uncomfortable experience for students who find their college life doesn’t mesh with the one they left at home. I moved off-campus this year to reside in the West Bank, a house held together by a friendly landlord and my shallow plumbing experience.
My dad is going to come through the battered screen door, see the recycling piled up on the back porch and let loose a mournful sigh. George Costanza he is not, but for a weekend he’ll have to wander campus as a supporting character in my sleepless journey to graduation.
This weekend, students find themselves putting off midterms to hang out with the supportive people who pray their kids pass those tests. It’s not ideal to give up a weekend during the second most hectic time of the semester, but neither is spending a day or two stuck in the library pretending one’s family doesn’t exist.
Even spending the weekend with someone else’s family can be a refreshing break from the slog of studying.
Mom will want to clean and demand evidence I’m eating enough and getting good grades. Dad might just say “hi” but also ask me if I have a job yet. Suddenly we must answer for the time, money, and effort everyone has put into this part of our lives.
Having parents come into town may be a distraction, but to say it’s a burden is to ignore a couple of the reasons we came to Hillsdale in the first place. Regardless of whether we came to southern rural Michigan to escape our families or make them proud, parents’ weekend is a chance to celebrate that.
Sometimes that means bidding your folks goodnight so you can search a darkened lunch room for the sacred document with those nine digits that grants you employment and benefits. It will be sitting in the cafeteria office even though they won’t contact you to say they have it.
Mom will read this during parents’ weekend of Fall 2017, and I’ll never be trusted with my social security card again.
Joe Pappalarado is a senior studying marketing.