Columns / Discourse / February 24, 2009

Your mom goes to college

Compared to the average Knox student (though it’s arguable that Knox has anyone “average” to speak of), I go home a lot. Really. It’s still home and it’s still mine; I’m not one of the many adolescents to make the successful transition to calling it “my parents’ house.” I would say that I average a trip home on the train every three weekends or so, and I enjoy every visit.

This is not to say that Knox has anything I want to get away from. Rather, drifting to and from the autonomy offered by college life and shifting every so often to the complete dependence of being my parents’ child is a pleasant way to pass the winter weeks. For about two days a month, I get to revel in the drastic improvements of water pressure, snack availability, laziness, stereo quality, mattress width, and dog ownership.

Moreover, my parents seem desperate to nurture something besides our pug, Fiona, who can only express love and gratitude with a series of guttural grunts. My mother sends me back to school with piles of freshly laundered clothes, cookies leftover from this event or that, newly cut hair, a pedicure, a wad of federal reserve notes, and a plea to “call as soon as I get back to school,” as if I haven’t successfully survived the previous six weeks without her.

Which, of course, I could, but sometimes I wonder.

I am now twenty. I am capable of living some semblance of a life all on my own, once I figure out how to balance a checkbook, and I imagine there are banks that could tell me. I could cook a mean dinner and save up for a car and land a job with some of my more impressive people skills. In short, simply being able to live a life of my own is not the problem. The thing this adult life would lack is the heaping plate of concern only offered by your guardians. We all need it, and, ultimately, that is precisely what we look for in Galesburg, too.

Think about it for a moment. We all could very well be attending some sort of online school right now – or, in the case of Knox, any school bigger than 1,400 kids – but we refuse this notion. We refuse it because we want our professors to really care about us. We want them to know us by name, to fret about (or at least be aware of) our grueling schedules, and understand the kind of students we all are. We want someone like Jimmy Stewart, who, I daresay, would not achieve his current celeb-like status at a school as huge as, say, U of I. We find it charming to collectively adore our school’s assorted characters, and share them amongst ourselves: Helmut, Roger, Xavier, and Cindy Wickliffe to name a few, though you all know of more you’d mention if the word count could shoulder it.

It’s odd, isn’t it, to think that professors are, on some conscious or subconscious level, the parents we leave at home? I know that for my part, my advisors have helped me make far more decisions about my college career than my parents have. It’s no insult to Mom and Dad; it’s simply not their field of expertise. Come time to graduate in 2011, I am curious to see which set of caretakers helps me think up a career one could possibly apply to my penchant for writing poems. Maybe it will be those on the home front. Maybe it will be those who reside in Old Main. Either way, I’ve got some good people working on my side.

Marnie Shure

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