“Let’s go watch freshmen arrival day!”
I have a sick sense of humor. But I loved being on campus the day the new freshmen arrived at Moody. And one year I really did take the day off to enjoy the drama and help out a little bit with confused parents and freshmen.
It’s a day full of highs and lows. For incoming freshmen its a huge day when their parents drive away and they have to figure out life without the security blanket. For parents you can tell its a bit rough. Well, not for everyone. But its rough for some parents!
The joke was that you could tell birth order by how many people made the trip.
- First born: The whole family came even if they drove from across the country. Mom, dad, and siblings all waited in line for the dorm room keys and welcome packet. Little brothers wandered the courtyard while mom and dad made nervous small talk with other parents. After they get all of their kids stuff into the tiny dorm room, they explored campus a little before taking their child out for one last meal together. They walked, ever so slowly, back to campus. If mom can think of anything they’ve forgotten she will stall it by making a trip to Target. But in the end, before dinner, there would be tears as they drove away. The first born would hold it together at least until the car was out of sight.
- Middle child: Typically, one parent made the trip for boys and both came if it was a girl. Since they knew what to expect they would make their child stand in line while the parents unloaded the car. With keys in hand they did the whole routine a bit faster. And the whole thing was noticeably less emotional. They would drop everything off in the room, make a quick run for lunch, and try to get out of their child’s hair fairly quickly. Interestingly, it was usually the child who was left crying on the curb as the parents drove off. Almost in shock… as if to say, “But when you dropped off Chip you stayed a lot longer, you just left me here?” Once a middle child, always a middle child. Suck it up, kid.
- The baby: This was an either or scenario. And the truth was that I would just hang out on freshmen day to see how it went. Some families just sent dad. You could always tell this scenario by where dad had parked. He would pull into the visitors lot in the family minivan and park in the 15 minute zone. Immediate loading and unloading only. Dad would get out of the van looking at his watch. He’d carefully unload all of the kids stuff onto the sidewalk while the child raced to go get a cart. Typically, the child would return just as dad was finishing up. The child expected dad to load up the cart and go upstairs… just like they had with the other kids. But dad would look at his watch, then point to the 15 minute parking sign. He’d give a hug to his baby and get in the car. Stunned, volunteers would help the student with her things while dad zipped out of the parking lot, and the child cried. Dad would give one look back and race off with a huge smile. The other scenario was equally funny. Mom and dad would make the journey, unpack the car, give their kid a hug… and hold hands as they basically skipped back to their car. As they pulled away, the windows were rolled down and Barry White was blasting. Something tells me mom and dad got a hotel room nearby… just in case their child needed them, of course. Freedom!
My first freshmen day
I was an atypical freshman at Moody. Since I needed to pay my own way through school, I actually had moved to campus in May of my senior year to start working full time. (I skipped the last 2 weeks of school, then came for graduation.) But about two weeks before classes started they allowed us to move from our summer dorms onto the floor we’d been assigned.
This meant that I was the only one on the 7th floor for two weeks. (Uh, since I had a master key, I confess I moved in a few weeks early. Don’t tell the dean.) Since I wasn’t arriving for freshmen orientation and I was done with my campus job, I actually lost track of which day people showed up. Somewhere in there my RA had came. But he had gone to a retreat and was never around. Essentially, I was by myself on a floor with 16 rooms. It was a big empty space and I’d had fun figuring out things to do in my spare time.
Somewhere in those two weeks it became a habit that I’d not carry clothes to the showers. It was funny as an 18 year old to walk the long hallway to the bathroom naked. Who am I kidding? Given the same choice I’d probably do the same thing today.
So, on freshmen check-in day, I was leaving the bathroom and heading back to my room. I had my towel over my shoulder and that was it. As I went to put the key in my door I heard a gasp. Yup, a first born was checking in down the hall. Mom, dad, and kid sister had an interesting first meeting with their sons floor mate!
After that, I got dressed and went through the line to officially check-in. The girl in front of me wouldn’t stop talking. She thought she had met her husband. And I got introduced to the idea of a stalker.