What’s the strangest thing you’ll see on college move-in day?
You won’t believe what we saw!
Here’s a short excerpt from Chapter 7 of Out to Sea: A Parents’ Survival Guide to the Freshman Voyage that talks about move-in day and the most unexpected thing we saw when we moved Brooke into her first dorm:
There’s an emotional spectrum on move-in day. You’ll see plenty of parents with red eyes and Kleenexes strategically shoved up their sleeves. You’ll also see folks in “business mode,” checking off tasks from their to-do lists, saving their tears for the car ride home.
You may find yourself like me, wanting to funnel your emotions into action as you unpack. As challenging as this may be for parents (moms in particular), please allow your student to set the tone and pace of unpacking. There is ownership and validation in his own nesting. I’m not suggesting you need to leave him and his mountain in the hallway. But you don’t need to take charge. Instead, just ask what you can do to help.
You’ll likely get assigned the tasks of lofting beds and hanging mirrors. You may even get to haul boxes out to the recycling dumpster, if you can scale the other mountains in the hallway. If you do make it out to the dumpster, you’ll likely meet up with other displaced parents fighting the same feelings of helplessness. Take time to say hello. You’ll likely find an ally.
But also be prepared to see all types of parents on move-in day. Some are, shall we say, in a category of their own.
As we were schlepping our daughter’s things up the three flights of stairs, we encountered many other parents-turned-pack- mules in the stairwell. On one trip, I did a double-take as a fashionably dressed mom and son passed by. The mom was wearing an interesting furry scarf around her neck. Odd, I thought. After all, it was August in Iowa, and the residence hall did not have air conditioning. Fragrant hallways and pit stains were the norm, so a fur scarf was most unexpected.
Then it moved.
The scarf moved.
I wasn’t having a hot flash or a hallucination.
It actually moved.
I turned to my daughter to make sure I hadn’t imagined it. “Did you see that?” I asked.
I looked again. The woman had a real, live monkey on her neck as she trudged the stairs of Carpenter Hall. I’m not kidding.
Confused, Brooke simply replied, “I didn’t know monkeys were allowed in the dorms.”
We didn’t know if the monkey was simply along for the fun on move-in day or if the student intended on keeping it in the dorm as some sort of floor mascot. If the latter, then the RA nixed the idea, because Brooke didn’t see the scarf monkey in the hall again that year. If the former . . . well, while it made for an interesting sight on move-in day, I recommend parents leave pets at home. Even monkeys.
Monkey or no monkey, remember that we all approach move-in day in our own way. No matter what kind of parent you are, cut yourself some slack. Move-in day is a big deal.
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