Your Parent Company
Not only are you going to have to change the endings of your stories, you’re going to have to use different words to tell them.
By Elizabeth Rourk, University of New Haven
It’s the time of year when college kids are forced to turn in school friends, dorm rooms and college towns for the families, childhood bedrooms, and hometowns they left behind last summer.
Gone are the days of late night trips to the dining hall and supervision administered by an RA that couldn’t care less so long as everyone is breathing.
After a semester at school, having to answer to anyone besides your roommates seems strange. When parents do something that’s probably completely normal, like ask where you’re going, it suddenly seems like they are breathing down your neck. Don’t get me wrong—my parents and I get along pretty well, and I’m thankful that I have a place to live this summer, but there are definitely some changes you need to make before returning to your parents’ house after nine months of college living.
When my parents came to get me, we decided to take a day trip to New York City. As I go to school just a train ride away from Manhattan, the trip has become pretty normal for me, but for my parents, who were born and raised in the Midwest, a day in the city had a whole different meaning. For starters, they were completely fascinated by the costumed characters that crowd Times Square trying to get you to take pictures with for tips. Because costumes creep me out almost as much as paying to take pictures with a stranger, I usually walk away. My parents, on the other hand, were walking up to the performers and asking about their outfits.
Within ten minutes of my parents coming and picking me up from school, I realized it was time to turn the parent-filter back on. The funny part is, at school, my friends make fun of me for how little I curse, but of course as soon as I was back with my parents I ended up saying, “She’s so fu…reaking weird!” And while I don’t think I was fooling anyone, I did think it was a relatively clever save.
Besides just cutting the curse words out, I also find myself getting halfway through a story and having to stop because the end either involves walking through a McDonald’s drive through for milkshakes in a sketchy part of town, asking for a stranger’s number on a street corner at three in the morning on a dare, or something equally stupid that would have my parents questioning whether or not I should be allowed to return to school in the fall.
Having parents around turns stories about a friend drinking too much at a frat party and passing out on the couch into something along the lines of having a friend that ate at the questionable pizza place down the block, got food poisoning, and went to bed at a reasonable hour to sleep off the stomachache. Same thing, right?
After getting home, I also realized that some behaviors we find totally acceptable at school are not highly regarded once you get off a college campus. These include going a month without washing towels, leaving dirty clothes in a large heap under the bed and eating convenience store snacks for every meal of the day.
Since being back at home, my mom made it pretty clear she would wash my laundry for me if I ever tried to go that long without a clean towel, and no, I am not allowed to eat Cheetos at the dinner table.
I am also not allowed to loft my bed at home in order to pile stuff under it.
Another substantial change is how I spend money. Being broke at college meant using the “last drop of toothpaste” for about three straight weeks before finally coughing up the $2.49 for a new tube, but at home, your mom will judge you for the tiny rolled up tube that no longer has toothpaste in it and will make you go buy more. Being home also means that you cannot put off going to the doctor for a month, because the moment you start coughing someone will hand you the phone book opened to the page of the doctor.
I’ve also learned that while classes may not always be the first thing in our mind, when telling stories to relatives, information about our classes should be the first thing that come out of our mouths. “Oh yes, I just loved my Ethics in Literature class, and I definitely did not sleep through it the Monday after our Spring Weekend concert.” I’m actually a good student, and for the most part I genuinely enjoy my classes, but it’s hard to make something like calculus sound interesting.
So while it may be rough making the adjustment to being off of a college campus, it’s probably healthy to return to a normal standard of living, at least for a while. This is especially true if your finals week went anything like mine, and included not sleeping (or brushing my hair, or eating meals) for a week and a half. So soak up all the real world and summer job money you can before August rolls around and throws us back into college life.