As a college professor for twenty one years, I am no stranger to the excitement and trepidation that students feel before they head back home for breaks. They long for the familiar, the homemade meals, their own comfy bed, and time with their old friends. At the same time, their own interests and habits are developing and ever-shifting while they are away at college and as we know, sometimes these do not mesh well when back at home as family dynamics have also changed. I discussed this in a recent blog that was positively received, and so to add a bit of levity and laughter, I now offer tips for how parents can have a little fun and merriment dreaming up ways to drive their college kids crazy.
1) Make wholesale changes to the holiday meal menu without consulting anyone. It’s time to break out the tofurkey, gluten free pies, and mashed cauliflower with dairy free cheese.
2) Disable the wifi without warning. Turn it back on and make them guess the password.
3) Ask them why they are so moody. When they don’t want to respond, keep asking.
4) Forbid them from seeing their friends from home; after all, this time is for you.
5) Several times a day, ask if they have thought about summer jobs and internships.
6) If they’re watching a football game, be sure to approach them during the two minute warning to help you clean out the garage and the attic so you can be ready for the upcoming charity pick up.
7) Press your kid about his/her grades and choice of major. Then start making detailed comparisons to the neighbor’s kid.
8) The day before your student leaves to go back to college, casually mention to him/her to clean out his/her room and give away stuff without letting on that you have made elaborate plans for your new mom cave.
9) Throughout the visit, grill them as to whom they’re hanging out with at college and why they still won’t friend you on social media.
10) Insist everyone wakes up at 7am for a holiday breakfast.
11) When observing that your freshman gained some weight, be sure to make multiple comments about how the cafeteria food must not be all that bad. Additional points for doing this in front of their friends.
12) Make everyone dress alike for holiday pictures so you can get a jump on next year, and start thinking about how to write the longest and most boring annual family letter. If you vacation at the beach, be sure to take the proverbial photos, with everyone clad in khakis or jeans and white shirts, holding hands and looking toward the water, and definitely jumping!
13) Stock the house with only healthy snacks such as kale chips, beet chips and coconut chips. Add some energy balls for good measure. Have a big jug of kale smoothie juice to wash it all down.
14) Every morning, leave them with a list of chores that need to be done by 2pm. Starting at 2:15pm, make repeated calls to check their progress.
15) Talk extensively about politics.
16) Harp on your kid’s appearance, hair color, clothing choices, tattoos and piercings. Encourage other family members and friends to agree with you.
17) When you go around the holiday table expressing gratitude, notice that your kid seems ungrateful and point it out.
18) By all means, install tracking devices in the car and on the phone, and when your kid is out, text him/her, and then call repeatedly when you do not get an instant reply text.