Calling Home Ain't So Bad

I talk to my mommy on the phone every day. Apparently this is abnormal behavior, considering the looks and comments I receive whenever people find out this juicy tidbit about my life. I'm not sure why talking to one's parents everyday is so strange--hey, we did it when we lived at home, so why not continue the tradition when we live away from home?

It seems like most college students contact their parents when: 1) they need bail money, 2) they need spending money, or 3) if their lives are falling apart. I exaggerate, of course, but there is a feeling that since we're adults now, we no longer need to interact much with the folks whose mannerisms and characteristics probably shaped our 'adult' personas more than anyone else's. I don't understand that point of view. Sure, we are adults now, and living away from home reinforces the fact that we are individuals with identities all our own.

But that is all the more reason to talk to them now as adults, as friends, in some ways even as peers. We've grown out of our adolescence, and our parents have weathered it. That's why college is a good time to normalize relations, to realize that our parents really weren't so bad after all, and to try to catch up on the years we wasted fighting with one another.

My parents and I were close in high school, but the daily phone call tradition began by chance, because I had to share the funny incidents of my first year (that glorious time of self-discovery and maturation, that wonderful year of randomized roommates) with them. The stories were legendary. There was the time one of our roommates let someone use our fridge to keep some baking ingredients. One of the jars-dubiously labeled 'intestinal flora'-caught our attention. Only later did my sister, a medical school student, tell me that if we had any sort of direct contact with the stuff, we would have had diarrhea for a week.

Then there was the time the same roommate comped dorm crew: he cleaned our bathroom, and then promptly left all the mops in our suite, assuring us he'd return them the following day. The next morning, at 7 a.m., we received a phone call from an irate dorm crew captain. "Return the stuff or he's fired," she said. Since my roommate was practicing the piano in Paine Hall (more on that in a minute), I had to trudge over to Weld--through the snow--to return the mops.

The next day, I was awakened again at 7 a.m., this time by a woman with a heavy Irish accent, who threatened to have me Ad-Boarded and to have "my privileges revoked" if I didn't return the key to a Paine Hall practice room right away. Once I realized she was talking about my roommate, I put her on hold and tried to find him. He wasn't home.

But I did see a shining key sitting on his desk, on top of a note reading: "Note to Self: Don't forget to return this by tomorrow morning." I sighed. And made the trek out to Paine Hall, in the snow.

Such was the stuff of my freshman year. And as I saw the hilarity of it all, I had to share it with the two people I had always shared the funny experiences of my life with: my parents. So when three of us in the suite conspired to hide the toilet paper--and the plan misfired miserably, catching one of the conspirators, shall we say, with his pants down--there were only two people in the world who I knew would find it as funny as I did.

As the year wore on, I could sense that my parents missed having me around the house, and we began talking to each other more often. While I used to call only to tell them about the funny things happening around campus, I began to share with them even the more mundane aspects of college life. Soon, the phone call from home became a daily ritual.

So I'm proud to say I have replaced the umbilical cord with a fiber-optic one. It's nice to be able to talk to one's parents as friends, as confidantes. And every once in a while, I tell a story that makes my mom laugh so hard she begins to cry. I don't know if it's because she's so happy or if it's because she misses me. It's those moments that make me glad I went off to college so I could discover that my parents are people, too--and wish that I were back home, spending time with them, seeing them everyday like I used to.

Sujit Raman '00 is a history concentrator in Mather House. His column appears on alternate Tuesdays.