The other day, I was confronted with a shocking experience while working a greeter shift at the Mary Markley Residence Hall dining hall. It was the final day of new student move-in, and a mother and her son came to the front door of the dining hall. The son stopped and turned to his mother, who then asked if she could come in and sit with him for lunch before she left. In a tone of pure annoyance and embarrassment, he responded with a cold, “No, maybe next time,” which his mother begrudgingly tried to understand. She gave him a hug, which he accepted with an equal amount of cold embarrassment before leaving her behind to enter the dining hall. Bless this poor woman’s heart for being so understanding, because all I could think about was the seven levels of “Oh, you want to see embarrassing” that my mother surely would have verbally whipped me with if I had ever been so rude to her after she spent her whole day helping me get settled into college.
So, suffice to say, at this point, I simply couldn’t help myself. As I took his Mcard to swipe it, I told him, “Your mom is cool. You should have let her eat with you.” His face turned a cool shade red before he said, yet again, “Maybe next time.”
For some reason, I can’t get this sad encounter out of my mind. I mean, I remember what it was like to be young and “too cool” for my parents but as my years as a college student have waned on, I have learned a very important lesson: My mom is definitely cool. You know why? Because one thing that is most definitely not cool is turning a whole load of laundry blue and ruining half of your wardrobe. It is also not cool to have to have a friend spot you grocery money when your bank account is overdrawn because you don’t know how to manage a budget.
Oh and also, my dad is cool. This one was a little harder for me to swallow personally, because in the most redneck, Budweiser T-shirt with camo boots way possible, my dad is not “cool” by Ann Arborite standards — But guess what? It is not cool to sit outside of Meijer with frozen tears streaming down your cheeks because you left a light on in your car and have no clue how to use jumper cables. It is also not cool to have a picture of your favorite football player ripped out of the wall and glass shatter everywhere because you didn’t know what a “stud” was.
The truth is that those of us with parents who invest in our education, help us get into a good school, give us every cent they can offer in order to see us succeed here and then, to top it all off, offer to sweat their butts off on a 90-degree, humid day to help us move into college, should be nothing but grateful because, sadly, that is not the reality for so many kids here in the United States. I don’t care if your mom rocks Crocs and gauchos or if your dad wears an “I’m With Stupid” T-shirt to drop you off. The fact that you have a parent around to embarrass you at all is an immense blessing that you should not — for one second — take for granted.
That’s not to say that everyone has the best relationship with their parents, I’m just pointing out that there are nearly 450,000 kids in the foster care system on any given day in the U.S. and, according to some of the most recent studies, fewer than 10 percent of them will attend college. If you’ve grown up in a stable home in a decent economic bracket, you have an incredible advantage that so many youth today don’t have.
So, next time your mom or dad calls, pick up the phone. Thank them for supporting you throughout your life. So many parents worry endlessly about their children who are at college. It may seem over the top to you, but they’ve spent the last 18 years investing most of their lives into making sure you have the opportunity to succeed at an institution such as the University of Michigan and they would do anything to make sure that is a reality. Don’t let their investment go to waste and remember that even on her dorkiest day, your mom is still cool!
Abbie Berringer can be reached at email@example.com.