COLUMN: After six years, Mom’s Weekend getting old

By Scott Green

Is your mother coming to visit you this weekend? Congratulations, you still have four days to move to a different address. Otherwise you will be subjected to a number of Mom’s Weekend traditions that have happened every year for as long as anybody can remember. It’s like the State of the Union address, only more boring.

This is my sixth year at Illinois, so I know all these traditions cold. Of course, now that I have them memorized, my parents no longer care enough to come to Champaign. I am forced to spend Mom’s Weekend without anyone telling me how stupid my wardrobe is or badgering me because I never talk about girls. So basically, my weekend will be very enjoyable.

Not everyone can be so lucky. But even if your mother is able to track you down, you can still survive the weekend, especially if a recent medical condition has left you with legal access to painkillers.

No? OK, then you’re going to have to deal with Mom’s Weekend traditions, the first of which happens when your mother steps into your dorm room or apartment and takes a look around. She will develop the same look of disappointment she had the time in fourth grade when the principal called to tell her you wrote a very bad word on your teacher’s forehead with a permanent marker. She reacts this way because of the mess, even though you spent ten whole minutes doing various cleaning-related activities, such as spreading empty pizza boxes around your carpet to cover assorted stains.

For those of you whose parents attended school here, or visited friends who went to Illinois, or once drove through Champaign on their way to a place that is actually worth visiting, you will also have to go on the “Memory Tour of Campus.” This consists of two parts. The first part involves you sitting in the back of the car for 90 minutes while your mom tries to remember the location of her junior-year apartment. When she finally figures out the address, it will turn out to be down a complicated labyrinth of one-way streets, and the building will no longer be there. But you’ll still get to hear the story about the time she stayed up until 1 a.m. watching television. Those were crazy times.

The second part of the tour takes you to the Quad, the center of the campus, where your mother will unsuccessfully try to remember which of the buildings she had classes in. Your father will not be very talkative on the Quad but give him a break. It has been decades since he has been surrounded by hundreds of college girls in new spring wardrobes.

Luckily you can avoid some of the most horrible Mom’s Weekend traditions. For example, it’s not that hard to get out of going to Garcia’s, a pizza parlor whose slices have all the flavor of extra-mild cardboard. My parents, their friends and my friends’ parents all have fond memories of the Green Street restaurant and always go to great lengths to eat there when they’re in town. Some of these people are respected in their professions, if you can believe that.

And finally, remember – no matter what happens, ultimately this weekend is about spending time with the woman who carried you via her biological innards for nine months. You and she have a special bond; a deep emotional connection, and that is something you will always be able to exploit to guilt some spending cash out of her. That’s the best Mom’s Weekend tradition of all.