To my own beautiful children…and many other returning college students…five things to keep in mind before you come home for another visit…said with all love…and a touch of exaggeration…
1. You are going back to roughly the same home that you grew up in. In your absence, Mom and Dad probably haven’t renovated the house so that you have your own little guest apartment, complete with room service and housekeeping. More than likely, you will need to share a bathroom. If you shared a bedroom before you left home, chances are you’ll have to do it again. So (and it’s truly remarkable that this needs to be said…particularly since you have a roommate in your “other life”) you need to be considerate of others. The bathroom sink is not your personal storage cabinet. The bedroom floor is not (ahem) your personal trashcan. Your stuff goes in a drawer or a closet or a hamper. Seriously.
2.The world is not nocturnal. Yes, we know that you might be, but realize that you are in the minority. Your family most assuredly isn’t. That means…among other things…that your parents (and siblings) need to sleep at night because they need to get up in the morning and do crazy things like work or care for the other children. So…wait for it…you can’t be nocturnal either. Not while you’re staying with them. Sure, nobody cares if you stay up (and sleep in) a little later…but the emphasis is on the word little. Watch a movie until 1:00? No problem. Be out of the house until 1:00? A bit of a problem. When your parents say they can’t sleep until you’re home, it’s not that they’re trying to suck the fun out of your life; it’s just that they really can’t sleep until you’re home. And remember…they have to get up. You stay up way later than that all the time, you say? Yes, and you can get right back to those habits…as soon as you leave your parents’ house.
3. We know you’re tired. We do. After all, we’ve seen your class schedule. Three classes on Fridays?! What do those people expect? You’re not a machine! But, seriously, we know you’re tired. So take a couple days to sleep until noon. That’s all cool. After that, though, it’s time to get up off the mat and join the rest of the world. All that sleeping is going to make you feel worse anyway. If you’re not working (and if you’re home more than a couple of weeks, you really should be working), pitch in around the house. Reconnect with your folks and your sibs. Dry a dish, for the love. You’ll still get plenty of sleep…since you’ll be going to bed at a human hour again.
4. Remember that you’re not a guest. You’re not. That day will come, to a certain extent, but it’s not here yet. You’re still our kid. You’re still one of a group of siblings. If everyone else is helping clean up the kitchen, it’s probably not appropriate for you to go turn on the TV. If everyone else is tidying the house and you’re not sure where you fit anymore, just ask. You still know how to operate a vacuum, right? And the schedule that you grew up with? It’s probably still intact. Mom’s kitchen didn’t used to be a 24/7 cafe? It still isn’t. Eat with the family. Sleep with the family. Get up with the family. Making any sense?
5. We realize that being home again is a bit of tight fit. We do. But remember that it’s a bit of a tight fit for all of us. It might seem like you’re the only one making concessions, but you’re really not…that’s just a topic for another blog. And I hate to say this, but even if you are the only one making concessions, there’s a reason for that. Check the mailbox. See all those bills? Are any of them addressed to you? I didn’t think so.
Feeling really cramped? Even after only a few days? Then that’s probably confirmation that it’s time to be on your own. I know exactly how you feel, because I feel that way when I visit my parents. Why? Because I’m all grown up, and my childhood home is just a place to visit now. You’re growing up, too, and we’re so proud of you, kid. Now…see you in a couple months:)