The Do’s and Don’ts of Parents Weekend
All hail Parents Weekend! At some colleges, parents have already graced your dirty dorms with their angelic presence, while other schools celebrate this unofficial holiday in early and late October. Regardless of whether mom and dad have come and gone or have yet to come, we’ve got all the basics to keep floating well above the water during Parents Weekend!
When I was a freshman, I could not wait to see my parents. It was the first sight of normalcy I’d seen in weeks after living with my super crazy psycho roommate. Seriously guys, don’t screw this up!
First, there are a couple of simple rules to follow when hoping to master Parents Weekend. Since mom and dad are going to spoil you silly with gifts, homemade favorites, dinner at your restaurant of choice (we all know you’re picking the most expensive) and maybe even a mini-shopping spree to get you those must-have dorm and wardrobe necessities, we’ve got a detailed list of a few subtle ways to give back.
1. Do take your parents on a tour of your school. Whether or not it’s walking around your inner campus or actually going through the buildings and pointing out which class takes place where, it’s a no-brainer that parents love this. Show them the places where you grab lunch and/or snacks, what your fitness facility looks like, where you go to enjoy some down time with friends in between classes.
Don’t admit to them how many classes you’ve skipped to get belligerent, or how many times you “accidentally” slept through class, or which classes you already know are going to interfere with Tuesday 2-for-1s and Friday afternoon Happy Hour. While mom and dad might expect you to skip a few classes here and there, make sure you throw in the safety line, “the syllabus says that we can miss up to three classes before we lose any credit.”
2. Do clean up your room and throw out your trash before you parents get to your dorm room. If you’re a real pig, start preparing for parents on a Monday and hopefully by Friday you will be able to find the floor again. Go through your drawers and even if you’re not going to bother to fold your clothes, at least stuff them far enough into each drawer that you can’t tell it’s a war zone inside. Remember that vacuum your mom just had to get you? Here’s some advice: use it. Moms can tell. They can always tell.
Don’t hide your lucky stash of condoms under your pillow. If you’re a procrastinator and wait until Sunday morning at 10am to start going through your mess, you’d be better of shoving those baby protectors into a sock at the bottom of your closet. Here’s the problem with stuffing them under your pillow. Sometimes parents need to sit down and that seat might just be found on your bed. Another reason: if your mom is anything like mine, she will want to make your bed. It’s just a thing moms do. So while mom is busy fluffing and patting down your sheets the last thing she needs to find is a whole bin of Magnums.
3. Do make reservations at a nice, causal restaurant in whatever town or city your school resides. It’s nice to take your parents into the center of your community and show them the fun things they can do while they come to visit, as well as the fun ways you stay busy when you’re not overwhelmed by classes and homework. Choose a restaurant or pub that seems like it will fit your parents’ taste as well as their wallet. You’re not trying to break your parents’ bank on the first night!
Don’t take your parents to your school cafeteria. I always wanted to smack the kids that I saw doing that. While I totally understand living and working on a budget, there are other ways to provide your parents with a good meal that doesn’t involve sitting between animals scarfing down all-you-can-eat burritos. If you’re going on a budget, buy some sandwiches and take your parents on a picnic at a local park, or grab some appetizers to share at a small, inexpensive café downtown. Remember, you have no choice when it comes to eating college cafeteria food, and while you might find it tasty enough to keep down, your parents should not be subjected to that same kind of torture.
4. Do get tickets to a sporting event that is taking place during parents weekend. If there’s not a sporting event happening (like if you go to a school that has no major football or soccer team), research other opportunities for your parents to see all there is to see at your school. Maybe there is a play or a barbeque for your major. Keeping your parents enclosed in your dorm room all afternoon might not be the best idea. For example, I went to college at UVM. While we didn’t have a major sports team (my dad loves football so, no football, no-go!), there were tons of things to do in Burlington to keep them busy: hiking, apple picking, walking along the water, etc…
If you’re taking mom and dad to, say, a football game, don’t bring a water bottle full of your favorite liquor. I don’t know how your parents get down, but chances are it’s not like that. Also, don’t sit them in the same section as the rambunctious lunatics that shotgun a beer every time your team tackles someone. Wait until you’ve securely tucked your parents in for the evening at their hotel room and then go out and play as hard as you want. Be careful how hard you go though, the last thing you want is a buzzing iPhone flashing your mom’s number while your head is submerged in a communal bathroom stall.
5. Do introduce you parents to your roommates and their families and spend some time letting them get to know each other. It’s okay if you find your roommate’s dad’s voice about as stimulating as watching paint dry, just remind yourself that you need to give your parents ample time to figure that out, too. Your parents want to know what type of family your roomie comes from, what her morals and values look like, how she was raised, you know, all that stuff you don’t really care about at 11 in the morning.
Don’t tell everyone in the room who’s listening that embarrassing story where your best friend walked in on your dad using the bathroom, or that time when your mom pressed the gas instead of the break. Big no-nos! While it’s okay to share those stories with your roommates, your parents are going to be merely acquaintances and don’t need to know anything beyond the basics. Since being friendly and not friends is where your parents’ relationships may begin and end, don’t invite everyone to join you guys at dinner. Your parents drove all this way to visit you and spend time with you.