Five Takeaways from Our First Parents Weekend – OBHF Ep. 19

Our First Parents Weekend

Hanging out in the Student Center. Couldn't have been happier!

I didn’t think I would, but as the calendar ticked down to the week toward our first parents weekend visit I honestly couldn’t wait. Parents weekend hits right about the six week mark and while there are many parents who get to see their freshman student before then, we’re not one of them since we live on the opposite side of the country.

I really do get jealous sometimes of the parents on our FB College Parents Group who casually mention that they stopped by the dorm last week, or their kid came home for the weekend. It’s such a different experience when you’re in far away states. Text becomes a critical link.

Parents Weekend came at just the right time.

We were all ready for a family visit at that point. Just to be together. To see each other and hug each other and laugh together. Good timing.

There were a few things we should have anticipated, and a few things that happened as we hoped.

If you’ve already been to parents weekend, I’d love to know if you had any revelations that we missed. But if you haven’t been to your first parents weekend yet, take a listen, so you can be as prepared as possible. Our takeaways include:

  • Set your expectations of the dorm
  • Don’t forget your Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons
  • The importance of unstructured time together
  • Meet the friends
  • And more

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  • Five Takeaways from our First Parents Weekend Transcript - OBHF Ep. 19

    Our First Parents Weekend

    Paul M Bowers:Well, that was a long trip.

    Indra Bowers:Holy cow, too long.

    Paul M Bowers:Well, I don’t know about too long.

    Indra Bowers:But it was the longest that we were ever away from each other.

    Paul M Bowers:That’s true.

    Indra Bowers:I was missing you.

    Paul M Bowers:Aww, that’s nice of you, thank you.

    Indra Bowers:It’s very true. I was getting a little cuckoo here by myself and I didn’t like it.

    Paul M Bowers:Cuckoo, how was that expressed?

    Indra Bowers: I wasn’t eating, I was staying up late, wandering around the house, doing things and not going to bed. And then when Lucy wasn’t here because she was at the dog sitter, in between my various trips while you were gone, and then I was really by myself then, I was really kind of cuckoo.

    Paul M Bowers:Well, you were traveling a lot as well.

    Indra Bowers: Yeah,but it just like the food kept…the food larder was getting lower and lower.

    By the time I left there was nothing. There were like two eggs, no milk, some yogurt.

    Paul M Bowers:Well we should probably cover where we were because maybe there are people that are just tuning into the WB6QWD sponsored Our Bird Has Flown Podcast.

    Indra Bowers: Hi gang we are back from parents weekend which was preceded by Paul’s trip across America on his motorcycle and three business trips for me during that time including New Orleans and Mexico City, so we were all over the place.

    Paul M Bowers:Well our bird has flown so…

    Indra Bowers:We’re free now.

    Paul M Bowers:It is true, it is like put it into fifth gear on travel and this kind of thing it but it definitely was an intense several weeks.

    Indra Bowers:So Paul left for his motorcycle trip, gone for two and a half weeks. After two and a half weeks he arrives in Connecticut. We will have a separate show about that venture.

    Paul M Bowers: So stay tuned to the Our Bird Has Flown podcast for part two of the motorcycle story, okay, go ahead.

    Indra Bowers:Alright and today we’re going to talk about –

    Our five takeaways from our first parents weekend.

    It’s been six weeks since we’d seen our son.

    Paul M Bowers:Our bird.

    Indra Bowers:Who is on the other sideof the country.

    Paul M Bowers:Now we haven’t seen him but we’ve been in constant contact. We text, we email, we do all kinds of things. He’s had some dramas there he’s been sick.

    Indra Bowers:Yeah he was sick.

    Paul M Bowers:But he got excellent care at the Health.. Medical Health Center place.

    Indra Bowers:I have to say that I have renewed, what’s the word? I am happy about having the technology we have, for the very reason of our son being on the other side of the country and how easy it is to communicate with him.

    Paul M Bowers:Yeah and it allows a casual contact like my understanding is and I didn’t go away for college but my understanding is that there would be a phone in the hallway of the dorms and that you would talk once a week. And you would have to download or upload at that time.

    With us, we can just shoot a text now and then and its sort of fun that way.

    And it doesn’t become this big emotional thing every time we have contact.

    Indra Bowers:But it does really highlight what that was like for people way back then, whose kids would live in another state.

    Paul M Bowers:  And they did just fine.

    Indra Bowers:Yeah, for the most part.

    Paul M Bowers:I think the expectations were higher. So people say yeah you’re going off to college. Guess what? You’re an adult. Congratulations. Go be an adult. I think there’s a lot of residual not adult making done mostly by parents that want to keep their children as children. They refer to them as children.

    Indra Bowers: Yeah, because even at 18 years old, they’re saying “oh, my baby”.

    Paul M Bowers:Yeah my baby, because that reinforces to the parent. And you can tell I’m cynical and stoic and I don’t think it’s healthy. But we’re not here to talk about that. We will have some child psychologist at some point won’t we?

    Indra Bowers:Yeah, we’ll do that.

    Paul M Bowers:Somebody qualified other than a photographer who rides motorcycles.

    Indra Bowers:Okay, so we sat down and talked about our experience last weekend and came up with five takeaways.

    Paul M Bowers: Okay, but before we get to that let’s talk about this, the parents weekend concept so that…

    Indra Bowers: Construct.

    Paul M Bowers.Yeah, the college comes up with a six week after drop-off time for parents to come and engage with the university.

    Indra Bowers:Which did feel like the right amount of time. I was really missing him at that point and I think he was really missing us. And that time frame did feel likethe right thing.

    Paul M Bowers:I thought it was pretty good for college freshmen. I’m not so sure that we would bother next year.

    Indra Bowers: I don’t know that  I would come for parent’s weekend necessarily. I would still want to go visit I’d want to go later when it was more fall-like selfishly because it was..

    Paul M Bowers:Maybe Sleeping Giant will be open. Now to the idea, was that the college itself sets up a series of activities that promote an engagement with the college. And it’s particularly helpful if you live an hour or two hours away because then it’s then it’s not as big ordeal like we had.

    Now I of course made a bigger ordeal out of it by riding a motorcycle there

    Indra Bowers: Yeah you did.

    Paul M Bowers:But it’s a structured thing that the collegedoes to engage parents and engagestudents and parents. Again raising my hand those of you this is not video butI am raising my hand in the dusty urban Ham Shack, I’m almost bumping my hand on the on the light bulb. So it’s to me it’sa reinforcing-the-buying-decision kind ofthing. It’s like, welcome to our world and keep paying and when your son or your daughter gets tired of it make them stay.

    Indra Bowers: Okay, yeah I think there’s some of that. Certainly the career prep session we went to was about that and the truth is we didn’t attend a lot of the planned events we only did a couple of them. We did other things and those are the things we are going to really focus on because we didn’t find the planned things quite as beneficial, would you agree?

    Paul M Bower:Well it’s hard, you know, it’s hard to know because we didn’t find them beneficial because we didn’t attend them. There was a big, there was a big Rocktopia concert which as I look back on it I thought we might have enjoyed that. Now it was a lot of money I thought that the admission price was a lot of money and given how much money we were spending to actually attend this thing maybe not and our son was not big on it. So anyway do you have a list or something that we should go over?

    Indra Bowers:Oh, you know I do.

    Paul M Bowers:OK, what’s your first point?

    Indra Bowers:Point number one this is about me more than Paul.

    Paul M Bowers:Okay.

    Indra Bowers:Don’t show up after six weeks of your kid being at school, if they’re a messy kid, and expect that they’re going to put a whole lot of effort into cleaning up their room for you.

    Paul M Bowers:Well messy is such a judgmental word.

    Indra Bowers: Well I thought I was being kind using the word messy. It was a total and complete disaster zone.

    Paul M Bowers:Well it was unstructured.

    Indra Bowers: I was so uncomfortable in there I couldn’t even stay for very long because I was so uncomfortable and he was uncomfortable with it because he knew.

    Paul M Bowers:Well yeah.

    And then and, you know, there were extenuating circumstances. Yeah, there were our son’s wall that adjacent to his bunk, it shares a wall with the showers. And apparently there was a leak in the pipe that soaked the sheetrock causing the sheetrock to actually fail and fall in. Not on our son but it was pretty gross and they had to pull the sheetrock off and of course there was mold underneath there and all kinds of ugliness.

    So his living situation was turned upside down not that it was right-side up to begin with. It was just like at home.

    Indra Bowers:Which of course, you know, think about we’ve got five weeks of winter break and our house is so neat and clean. [Laughter].

    Paul M Bowers:And it’s going to stay that way now.

    Indra Bowers:Every now and then I say “how can our house stay so clean?”.

    Paul M Bowers:His room has been converted to what we call the Lincoln Bedroom and it is really nice and the expectation is that he is going to maintain it that way. Now I think that there are a lot of reinforcements. There at the dorm in his suite there, all the guys are like this. You go to all of the rooms and they all look like it and I don’t know if that’s just a guy thing because we didn’t go in the women’s dorm but they all feed off each other. It’s like, well if you can be that dirty and that cluttered wall so can I.

    Indra Bowers:Okay.

    Paul MBowers:So that was point one?

    Indra Bowers:That was number one

    Paul M Bowers: Okay, that’s the number one point?

    IndraBowers:Well this is not ranked in order.

    Paul M Bowers:Okay,

    Indra Bowers:This sort of follows the flow of the weekend.

    Paul M Bowers:Okay.

    Indra Bowers:Takeaway number two,

    bring your Bed Bath & Beyond coupons.

    Paul M Bowers:Oh Jesus.

    Indra Bowers: So when you move your kid in, you bring your Bed Bath & Beyond coupons, I talked about that in a blog post. There’s just things you have to do to supply, you know, get your kids set up to live there.

    Paul M Bowers:A blog post on…

    Indra Bowers:On and I don’t know why I didn’t think about it because I knew we were going to have to go shopping for things that he was needing. And I didn’t bring any Bed Bath & Beyond coupons. I don’t think I’ve ever walked into a Bed Bath & Beyond without having coupons in my bag. Like that was I actually felt a little uncomfortable I was like how did this even happen?

    Paul MBowers: Well, with the exception of the time that you did in fact walk in without coupons and the nice lady from Virginia,

    Indra Bowers: No, New Hampshire,

    Paul M Bowers: I knew it was one of those places. She took care of you.

    Indra Bowers:She felt my pain.

    Paul M Bowers: But now, the other side of this is I didn’t really see anything that we bought that he needed. There was stuff that he wanted and there was stuff that you wanted him to have but come on.

    Indra Bowers: But there were things that I had told him when we moved him in, I said “you should get this for example the husband pillow, the pillow that props you up so you can read in your bed”, I said “you need this” and he said “No, I don’t”.  And that what was one of the first things he said when we got there, “When we go to Bed Bath & Beyond I want to get that husband pillow,” and I said okay.

    Paul M Bowers:Well but need, it’s nice but he already had a bunch of pillows he could have crammed up there because he went and he bought a special pillow shortly after he moved in so there was extra pillows. I look at it saying okay ,alright, this is something that I go along with because you know I’m a flexible guy and I’m considerate and say whatever you want my darling that’s one of my mantras, whatever you like my darling.

    Indra Bowers: Anyways, bring your Bed Bath & Beyond coupons; you will need them. There will be thing your kids wants. Number three meet the friends.

    Paul M Bowers: Yeah,This was fun I enjoyed this.

    Indra Bowers:So Paulgot there a couple days before me and he got to meet more of the friends even than I did, so share your experience.

    Paul M Bowers: Well I was a hero. I showed up, I was like I was a rock star. People were walking by, I rolled in and parked near his dorm and we wanted to take some pictures and people are walking and saying did you really ride this from New York? I was like no, I rode it from San Diego.

    So Jesse definitely had the cool dad that day and then we left the bike where it was, which freaked me out. “Oh yeah, Dad nobody’s going to mess with your bike, like nobody’s going to take the electronics off your bike, and nobody’s going to take the GPS”.

    Well nevertheless we go down to the dining hall and we start hanging out with his crew now, when I say his crew I don’t mean gangs and colors here, I mean other students that are like him. That are a lot of fun and very intelligent and they’re all hanging out because they have a particular table right, Com-Dom.

    Indra Bowers: Communication Domination.They are all from the communication’s department and they met during orientation.

    Paul M Bowers:They are all excellent communicators and it was fun to hang out with them. They had some interesting questions. They were trying to be on the down-low with some of the language and the discussions that they have because you know, there’s this old guy right? And I’m like dude come on, I’ve been through this and I hang out with my own buddies, even at my age, when we talk crap about each other. But it was a, it was a great thing to see because

    I’m of the belief that happiness is derived from the successful relationships that we have as human beings.

    We know that money doesn’t buy you love; we know money is not that, you know, there are so many rich people that are unhappy.

    But the question is, have we raised a child, an adult, who is capable of having relationships that are mutually beneficial and bring out the best in him and as individuals.

    Indra Bowers:So choosing well.

    Paul M Bowers:Yeah and from a field you’ve got you know, a lot of times…in middle school, in high school there were some good kids there but not necessarily his type. They were the number of kids in high school that were of his type that have the communication gene, that liked to talk, that are clever and articulate and fast in their thinking.

    There’s a lot of that in college, there’s a lot of them at this place. So when I sat down, I had to really rev up because these people are moving fast in their commentary and their discussion it was like,

    Indra Bowers:Sharp and it was funny.

    Paul M Bowers:Yeah,I was tired at this point it was like okay, come on catch up you, old bastard.

    Indra Bowers:We stayed a couple extra nights after parents weekend, so

    we got to take a couple of kids out to dinner and if you have the chance to do that with your teens friends we highly recommend it.

    Paul M Bowers: Yeah it was great and they were they’re great kids very kind, very appreciative, from different backgrounds and different places but all have that unifying characteristics of being well educated. For one thing, being high performers because you don’t get into this school unless you’re a reasonably high performing individual and because their communications type they’re outgoing friendly and interested in the world.

    Indra Bowers:Yeah, it was good.

    Paul M Bowers: I’ll bet you have another point don’t you? Wait are we done with that, we’re done with that? Okay.

    Indra Bowers: The fourth takeaway was if you can meet the advisor.

    Paul M Bowers:Oh yeah.

    Indra Bowers:So we were very fortunate because I am in the field in which Jesse is studying and when his one of his professors found out who I was,

    Paul MBowers:You were like, you’re a celeb? It actually was and I’ll say this because to you it’s a little self-promoting but this particular professor was looking for interesting advertising campaigns and found one of them that i.d.e.a. had done and was using it as an example and then somehow, I don’t know if Jesse told her or what he said “hey that’s my mom’s agency”.

    Indra Bowers: And she got super excited and asked can your mom speak at our class. So the nice thing was that we got to go have breakfast with her the morning before that class and it was incredible to have a conversation with her and him and kind of have the light bulbs go off for her of who he is and what his path should be and how she could help direct him and for no other reason than that. I mean aside from seeing our son which was like just warmed my heart and made me happy. It was worth it to meet her.

    Because now we have a renewed sense of someone there who’s guiding him, has his best interest at heart  and has a relationship with us now.

    Paul M Bowers:Yep!

    Indra Bowers:And just kind of gets how she can help chart the course with him.

    Paul MBowers:Sure and we had the opportunity to I’d say empower but it’s give permission to say; don’t take any crap out of this kid, don’t be charmed by this kid. This is who we are, this is what we stand for and you know it now. We’re all on the same page

    Indra Bowers:And we felt like he was left in good handsright?

    Paul M Bowers: And she’s a tremendously accomplished individual so, it’s not

    just that she was empowered it’s that she has the skills necessary to actually guide a student along and a student who is reasonably high performing and she can orient him, keep an eye on him and not just in her advertising class but in her ability to navigate the academic world, she has her doctorate.

    Indra Bowers:She’s youngand not that long out of school herself, so she brings direct experience.

    Paul M Bowers: Right and like Jesse was talking about this one class that he’s, I don’t want to say he’s not doing well in but he doesn’t enjoy it and he’s thinking of dropping it and she goes nope, you’re going to have to get through it, just stick through it and, you know, you’re going to have to do it sooner or later so just stick through that one and he said okay.

    Well because if I had said that he would be like dad you don’t understand. It’s like well she does and she’s like now that’s when you’re going to have to go through. I’ll bet you have another point don’t you?

    Indra Bowers:Yes.

    Paul M Bowers:Okay.

    Indra Bowers:And I want to say one sort of adjunct thing about the adviser. I didn’t really have a relationship with my adviser until junior year so, the fact that he can hook into an adviser in his freshman year is really astonishing to me and I feel like it’s a game changer in terms of the experience. So I’m very grateful for that and if your kid hasn’t hooked into that I would encourage you to help them find that.

    Paul M Bowers: Got it, understood okay.

    Indra Bowers:Point number five.

    Paul M Bowers: Okay.

    Indra Bowers: Plan for unplanned time.

    Paul M Bowers: Oh, unstructured activity.

    Indra Bowers:Yes, so on Sunday there wasn’t a whole lot going on at the school and so we just told him okay, we’re going to come pick you up and we’re going to go take a ride. It was a beautiful fall day and we just wanted to hang out and not have to do anything or be anywhere but just be in each other’s company. That’s the thing that no one tells you you need but the family needs just some time to hang out and be with each other, and hug each other, and talk and laugh and have a meal.

    Just be open to family time that isn’t fully structured and planned.

    Paul M Bowers:Yeah, but we didn’t have to go through this forced march through the forest where there are centipedes and bears and…

    Indra Bowers:You know I took you guys to some really beautiful places.

    Paul M Bowers:Yeah beautiful, beautiful leaves and stuff everywhere.

    Indra Bowers:No appreciation and nothing makes me happier than a great walk in the woods.

    Paul M Bowers:Oh great, so next time you go walk in the woods.

    Indra Bowers: Maybe you should appreciate that you had me at my best.

    Paul M Bowers: [ Laughter].

    Indra Bowers:Because I was very chilland happy and loving and enjoying nature and that’s that.

    Paul M Bowers:No it was enjoyable and it kind of refreshed the family feeling that you know, because we had spent a lot of time like that as family and it just reinforced Jesse that hey, we’re still you know, you’re living far away, we get it, but we’re still this and this is still part of us.

    And even if we have to walk through the forest damp we could have caught cold or caught pneumonia, poison ivy, there are all kinds of things you made us do and it was a great experience. And I completely agree, to spend that kind of unstructured time but it sorta was structured.

    Indra Bowers: Sort of. I had a route and I didn’t know how it would go and the place where we thought we would have lunch had closed for the season and we had to improvise and that’s part of the journey.

    So okay, those were our five takeaways from our first parents weekend

    Now we’re in the home stretch to Thanksgiving which I’m really looking forward to and that’s all I wanted to share from last weekend’s experience.

    Paul M Bowers: That’s it huh? Alright okay, so that’s it for the podcast today, do check us out on iTunes that’s where we live and be sure to look at the blog. My wife writes a lot for this blog and she doesn’t give me a hard time when I’m not writing. I do take some pretty pictures though, so check out the pictures, check out the writing on the blog that is at and we’ll see you next time thanks for tuning in.

    Indra Bowers:Bye everybody.