helicopter dad who came in to the advising office with his daughter, and the family drama that ensued.
Flash forward to today. First day of spring semester, and I'm in my usual two-hour Monday afternoon shift doing advising. It's very quiet--too quiet--for the first day, which probably should have been my first clue that some fresh hell was about to break loose. I only had one scheduled appointment, at 3:30.
Around 3:15, a middle-aged guy sticks his head in the door, and asks if I can meet with him. He looks familiar--I've met him before, I know he's been in the office before, but I can't place him until he says he's here to talk about his daughter's schedule. But she's nowhere to be seen, and he has to call her several times before she finally answers and shows up in the office. Oh yes: it's that family again. And Mom's along this time, too.
The student herself? As soon as she plops into the chair, she whips out her phone and starts texting. As the dad starts asking me questions about what classes she needs, I turn to her to get her input, and she's totally tuned out, texting away and clearly expecting mom and dad to do the heavy lifting.
The long and short of it is that the student is expecting to graduate this semester, but she's forgotten to enroll in the last class she needs, and got a D in another required course last semester, which means she'll have to repeat it and get a C or better.
I could go on and on about the drama, part 2. I'll spare you the details, and just say that it was very clear that the dad knew the requirements for the English major inside out, and the daughter not at all. When the student bothered to put the phone down, it was to make snarky, petulant comments about how she didn't care what was required; she just wanted to finish and graduate.
As before, I was mad at myself for not being more assertive--since, of course, this all took far longer than 15 minutes, leaving the poor guy who had actually scheduled an appointment sitting in the hallway.
In my dream world, I would have channeled my maternal grandmother and said something snappy like "Young lady, this is your future we're discussing here, and you need to pay attention." And maybe say something similar to the parents, like, "Tiffany Sue [not her real name] is the person who needs to make these decisions; why don't you wait outside?"
But of course, none of that happened.
What really strikes me this time around is that this student is a graduating senior. Presumably, she's on the brink of adulthood and independence. But there's no evidence that that's even within the realm of possibility for her.
Even more than feeling angry, the encounter left me feeling sad, and bewildered. It seems like this child has been permanently damaged by her parents' concern. And it strikes me as pathetic that any college senior could be OK with having her parents schedule her classes and generally organizing her life for her, much less seemingly expecting them to do it, and behaving as if she couldn't be bothered to worry about such trivial concerns. Had it even crossed my mind to ask my parents for that kind of assistance, I would have been utterly humiliated to do so.
I just don't get it.
Is being a grown-up that unattractive to this young woman? Or is it that it's just so, so much easier to keep doing the same old thing? It just seems to me that by the time you were 21, you'd be tired of behaving like you're 16. And that you'd want to feel like you were capable of managing your own life (whether you were or not).
Damn, she didn't even show as much initiative as Veruca Salt. At least Veruca always knew what she wanted, and asked for it by name.
Sigh. And so begins another semester...