Most parents anticipate that first visit to their offspring’s Parents Weekend as a chance to affirm that their child is happy, adjusting to college life, and approaching the experience with maturity and grace. What most college kids anticipate during that special time is that their parents will behave in the same manner.
Not so our family, which shamelessly hauled a 27 ft. Class C Motorhome, Single Slide, into our son’s dorm parking lot at Ohio University to greet him last November. And parked it there for the duration of the weekend.
Actually, it was my husband’s idea. Always the adventurer, he thought it would be “fun” to have a “home base” where our son and his friends could “rendezvous” and we could “entertain them.” (I had to cook???) He thought it would be a great “family experience” while avoiding the drab motel routine. (And what exactly is so wrong with ugly bedspreads?)
Once upon a time (before children) we had enjoyed camping and the occasional football weekend in a recreational vehicle with friends. But this was different; we were novices making our parental debut on our son’s turf. We needed to know that the idea was okay with him.
To my chagrin, he thought it was a great idea. I gamely consented, on the condition that “entertaining” would consist of a couple bags of pretzels.
We picked up our camper the night before our departure, and I must confess I was impressed with its features. Compartments that would make NASA proud provided ample storage for our clothing, sports equipment and all those pretzels. It was rather cute, in a storybook-cottage kind of way. Snow White’s dwarfs might have appreciated the shower, which was the size of an umbrella closet. (“Hey, we can shower in his dorm,” my husband suggested. Yeah, right.) His idealistic visions of a “family experience” were further dashed when our 16 year-old daughter refused to join us, citing a variety of reasons, including humiliation.
Something to consider: driving a Class C 27 ft. motor home is an adventure in itself. Tricky to park, challenging to maneuver on country roads, it is a beast to contend with on a windy day. My husband likened it to driving a motor boat. But, somehow, we made it safely to our son’s college, and brazenly set up our “patio” (lawn chairs) right there in the parking lot.
The Stromes relaxing in the parking lot at OU.
The experience proved to be successful; a home base for our family and an easy place for our son’s friends and families to find (I might add we were the ONLY motor home on campus.) One friend thoughtfully brought trailer-appropriate food to share � Cheez Whiz and crackers. Our son got a huge kick out of the experience, bless his heart. I just hope that he isn’t remembered for the duration of his college experience as the kid whose family “lived in the camper in the dorm parking lot.”
By Alison Strome