Prepare Yourselves: Our Parents are Coming

Some are trembling with excitement while others recoil at the thought, the truth of the matter is we’re really only about 24 hours away from the mass descent of parents onto our already crowded campus. We can pretend they’re the sophisticated role models we’ve always wanted when eight states and a couple mountain ranges separate us from them, but Family Weekend forces us to confront reality. Not only are you aware of the extent of your parents’ insanity, but now everyone else will be too. Everyone.

Perhaps, class of 2016, you have genetic luck we were not blessed with and your parents don't derive immense joy in being as excruciatingly mortifying as possible. Congratulations. Family vacations are probably nostalgic memories you look back fondly on instead of traumatic scars in your past.
My assistant editor and I fall into the latter category. Just in case your parents read the same book ours did, we thought we'd regale you with some horror stories, if only so you can giggle about how much it sucks to be us.

The Spruch-Feiner Clan: A Brief Illustration of Family Weekends Past

Caren and Kenny take advantage of the fall foliage outside Bushnell and pose for a pic...kind of

In my freshman year, my parents descended upon campus full of excitement as if they'd never seen the place—they had…a few times—and promptly decided we should eat every meal in Peirce. I don't know if it has to do with some kind of nostalgic desire to relive college—though I will admit, Peirce gets schmancy on Parent's Weekend—but like, everyone knows we're all looking to be treated to a juicy flank of sirloin steak and crème brûlèe at the Kenyon Inn, right?

No such luck. This was also the only year my sister came and decided to stay in my McBride double no matter the cost. On a Friday night, she sat there, a first-year in high school, doing her homework in my room—she had no interest in the Kokosingers concert, sorry—when some guys barged into the room and invited her to party with them that night. Is it weird that she had that experience in one night of being here, and I still haven’t? Maybe. Anyway, she then entertained my parents with this story of college boys inviting her out, who found this worth hoots of laughter. This was a pleasant experience for all.

Parents Weekend sophomore year, I had higher hopes. Finally permitted to leave campus, I hoped to seize the opportunity to go to Easton and spend some quality time with my mom while my dad read The New Yorker in the comfort of the nearest chair. Not so much. We got lost on a 2-hour nausea-inducing road trip to an Amish restaurant that we could not find, but did end up at a farm where my mother bought pumpkins to carry back on the plane to NYC and I looked at some teacup pigs adoringly. We bought jam but did not set foot at Easton.

The Toole Bunch: A Series of Unfortunate Events—Family Weekend Edition


Fig 1: Bill Toole practicing his fly fishing form early one Saturday morning. This is the man who will descend upon campus within the next 18 hours.
Fig 2: Hi, Leaning Tower of Pisa. Meet my mom.

In the case of my parents, I worry that even with two years of veteran Parents Weekend experience under their belts, they have yet to learn from their mistakes. Take, for example, the fact that my beloved elders refuse to tell me what time they’re getting to campus, because they want to “surprise me.”
Like last year’s 11:00 p.m. appearance in Olin Library wasn’t shocking enough as I choked mid-gulp on the Mike’s Hard I’d been casually sipping from a brown paper bag. Seriously, guys. We’re going to try this again? Surprise parties never end well.

Complimenting this grand faux pas is their unbelievably embarrassing tendency to attend classes that I’m not enrolled in. First of all, I resent them for thinking my courses do not sound interesting enough to come to. Second, in what world do social customs ever allow two utter adult strangers to sit in a roomful of students they do not know and are in no way connected to? Third, look for my father in Introduction to Film tomorrow. He’s an environmental lawyer. I guess I see why’d he be interested in this subject…

As if it wasn’t bad enough getting comments like, “Lauren, your dad went to my Intro to Dance class and spent the whole period asking the professor about the history of the plié,” they also make me suffer through, year-in and year-out, the Getting to Know the Student Body initiative.

I will literally stop in the Market for half a second to get a pack of gum, and after leaving the building will, without fail, find my dad chatting with some random ass kid about what kind of music he likes, why he’s got earrings or is wearing tight black pants. Then my father will introduce me to our New Friend and tell me his entire history. It’s a truly mortifying experience on both ends.

Or to find my mother drawing threateningly closer to the Amish wares on Middle Path, at which time, I must draw her back to the shiny, modern sidewalk. After she bought over 20 baskets and our pantry resembled a jam factory during the first Parents Weekend, I knew it was time to cut her off. She’s had a tough time kicking the habit.

I pray this year will be different. I hope that one day I can bring my parents to campus and not experience a creeping fear each time I lose sight of them. I will trust them to act like the responsible, adults that I know they are.

Maybe I should go ahead and draft an email warning the professor for Introduction to Film…