It is easy to lie to your family over the phone: “Oh yeah mom everything is going well, can I call you back in a minute? I’m just finishing up some homework,” you say, as you and your roommate and try frantically to put out a fire that you started when you tried to light each other’s farts. Or to make it seem like you have things under control over text.”Hey dad, I spent all my money on books. Can you send me some more?” you send, as your drug dealer holds you at gun-point in the Blue Room sandwich line. You’ve been living on the edge, taking no prisoners, and are definitely still overwhelmed and confused. That’s normal (right???), and having your parents around for a weekend may seem daunting, but there are some easy tips to staying ahead of your shifty, nosey, and overbearing parentals. The last thing you want is another lecture; you’re in college now and are way too cool/don’t have time for that.
Step 1: Be ready for an interrogation
Here are two different hypothetical conversations, one not prepared, and one prepared, between my mom and me. Learn from me to avoid mistakes and your mom’s wrath.
Mom: Have you decided what you’re going to major in?
Me: It’s “concentrate,” mom.
Mom: Concentrate? I am concentrated. Don’t tell me to concentrate, I am the one asking the question. Look at me, LOOK AT ME, I AM THE CAPTAIN NOW. WHAT ARE YOU MAJORING IN?!?!
Me: [Already defeated] No, we call it “concentrating” not “majoring” here, Mom… never mind. I don’t know, maybe something creative, like I kind of want to be an actor or musician, or maybe even a writer, I don’t know!! [Excited again] There are so many options here–
Mom slaps me
Mom: Creative? Acting? Music? You are no Bieber, you are my ungrateful son, who cannot even act like he wants to make his mom happy. You think creativity is paying for your tuition right now? No! Hard word, math, science, and more math.
Me: But mom, I just want to SSSSIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNGGG!
Mom slaps me again
Mom: No singing! No! No! No! Let’s go to the bookstore and buy you some more math text books.
Me: [Defeated and broken] Fine….
OR, if you prepare your answers, the conversation could go down like this…
Mom: What are you concentrating in–
Me: Pre-med mom, of course.
Mom: Great, let’s go get you tons of food and new clothes.
[My mom and I dance off together, down Thayer Street.]
Step 2: Prepare your room for judgement
This may come as a surprise to a lot of you, but you are in control of the state of your room. Shocking, right? So when your parents insist on seeing your room, there is no excuse for you not to be ready for anything. Your room is a crime scene and you are Dexter; you have the power to have your room tell the story you want it to.
First step, buy new posters to cover up your actual posters that you expected your parents never to see. For example, if you have a few Playboy posters, or some of your favorite musicians smoking a substance only legal in 2 out of our 50 states (Mom, I promise, Wiz Khalifa is from Washington!), or maybe just a poster of the family you wish you had, I suggest you cover those up. Buy some big, cheap posters of sunshines, rainbows, and textbooks, and cover your more raunchy ones up. Think Shawshank Redemption, but instead of covering up a hole with a seductive poster, you’re covering up that poster with another poster.
Another tip for room-staging is to clean up your room, but not to clean it too much. That may seem counterintuitive, but your parents know that you are not a really clean person and they have grown to love you anyway. If they walk into your room and can see their reflection on your cold, hard, Pembroke floor, they are going to know something is up. So clean up and hide the essentials (you know what I am talking about, and if you don’t, then you have nothing to worry about). Throw your clothes in the wash and hang your towel up, but just leave a few, strategically placed socks, shoes and t-shirts on the ground or falling out of your open drawers.
Step 3: Find new friends
Remember those people from your hall who you met the first week, and now you pretend to check your phone every time you walk past each other? You know that girl who you have never actually spoken to because she is always studying? How about the quarterback that always calls you the wrong name? What about the guy in the Blue Room who gets you your butter rum muffin twice a day? Yeah, those people are your friends for family weekend. You may be thinking, Wait, I’m not actually friends with those people, why would I tell my family that these random people are my friends? Good question. Because, think about it, the kids you have been hanging out with recently, the kids who you would call your “friends,” how much do you know about them? You know they like to have a good time, and have to study a lot, and whether or not they are on a sports team. But do you know their favorite color, biggest fear, career aspirations, or how many siblings they have? Probably not. You haven’t gotten there in your friendship yet, and that is fine.
You know just as many facts about those four random people I mentioned. Plus, you know that none of them will tell your mom and dad about that time you got EMS’d, that time you peed your pants, how you get rejected every time, that time(s) you got kicked out of Whiskey, or that time where you complained about your parents coming for parents weekend. Those four people are the safest play. They seem nice and normal when you introduce them to your parents in passing, and then you never have to see them again for the rest of the weekend. I am not saying you don’t like your friends, or that your friends aren’t great people. Rather, I am saying that it is much easier to explain to your parents why the quarterback called you the wrong name, than why one of your friends said “Frank the Tank, that was hilarious last night when you went streaking!”
This weekend is about being smart and one step ahead of your parents at all times. You have the power. Don’t forget it. This is your chance to finally convince your dad you are cool, and to get your mom off your back about how much you are studying, eating and showering. Good luck.