Revisiting Junior Parents Weekend

Today marks the beginning of Junior Parents Weekend at the University of Notre Dame.

That three-day period when parents and their students come together with other parents and students for various activities, to meet the professors, visit campus, and affirm that their hard-earned dollars are being put to good use.

But I’m missing it.

My Favorite Domer turned thumbs-down on this event a long time ago. He’s too busy for such orchestrated activities, he said. His friends’ parents aren’t coming. He didn’t want me to spend money for tickets and clothing and transportation and lodging — when I’m already on campus monthly.

‘Are you sure?’ I wondered.

Yes, he said. It’s not like we’ll have quality time together, with all the planned activities. And you know how hard those large-group gatherings are.

I certainly do.

Some folks excel in a cocktail party setting. They mix and mingle, kiss everybody within grabbing distance, and make small talk like they’ve known those people forever.

I’ve never been like that.

‘Shy’ would have described me as a kid. Or ‘Wallflower.’

Today, I prefer ‘Introverted.’

Nothing wrong with that. Introverts (and many writers fall into that category) choose our companions and friends after they’ve been tested and found true.

When the invitation came in the mail, I assumed we’d go. Despite the certain cold weather, the itchy new clothing, and the uncomfortable socializing.

I never expected Domer wouldn’t want to attend.

The schedule of events was full, to say the least:

  • An Opening Gala, complete with music, dancing, and fancy food.
  • Hall Luncheon to meet my son’s friends and see his quad in its “natural” state.
  • Saturday Mass at the Joyce Center (nobody does Mass the way ND does Mass!)
  • President’s Dinner.
  • Closing Brunch on Sunday, with tearful good-byes all around.

‘Are you certain?’ I kept asking.

His reply continued in the affirmative.

Some parents would have signed up and coerced their kid to tag along. Not me.

ND is his school, his home. Right or wrong, the decision on attending these festivities would be his.

And he said No.

A big part of me is sad. Sad at not seeing him this weekend. Sad at not being on campus, even at this dismal time of year. Sad at not being part of the students’ enthusiasm, their intelligence, their wit.

You see, I love ND as much as is possible for someone who didn’t go there!

But growing up means assuming responsibility for our choices. The world (and our own family) might not approve. But we each must listen to that quiet, inner Voice which leads us in the direction that’s right for us.

Sometimes we call that Voice, ‘conscience.’ Other times, it’s ‘compass.’

Domer is blessed with a strong one, and I couldn’t be prouder.