Are we adults yet?

Opinion by Hannah Broderick
Feb. 29, 2016, 11:59 p.m.

The end of winter quarter inevitably brings the stress and pressure of final exams. It is during these last few weeks that students are at their most childlike, pulling all-nighters, downing coffee like it’s going out of style and just generally making decisions that would raise the eyebrows of even the most liberal parents. It is during these last few weeks that students start looking up from their studies less, and unplugging their headphones with decreasing frequency. Strangely enough, it is also at this moment, when we are most likely to be performing below their expectations for college, that our parents arrive clad in their official parent’s weekend lanyards, anxious to meet our friends and trail us to CME 100.

Oohing and ahhing over Meyer Green and the new McMurtry Building, parents remind us of the awe we have become habituated to, the beauty and complexity that we speedily bike by, our headphones in, as one arcade blends into another. And yet, with fresh eyes, we return to the pair of peepers we wore in our first few weeks here, eternally amazed by the beauty that surrounded (and continues to surround) us.

It is in this moment — this weekend of moments, rather — that we remember our past and are treated to glimpses of a possible future. We remember when we weren’t heavy or tall enough to sit in the front seat, when our parents cheered from the sidelines of soccer games, when we had to wash dishes and didn’t have to spend our birthday money on those overpriced tennis shoes.

As one of those students whose parents did not make the flight out to Stanford this weekend, I just want to thank all of those Cardinal red-wearing families that did. To see friends, peers and strangers trailing behind lost mothers and fathers reminded me of where I was five months ago. Where we all were once. Children. And aren’t we still? Despite the distance and responsibility that college affords, we will always be the children to our parents.

My bitterness at feeling perhaps a little bit less loved by my parents faded on Friday night when I sat down next to a gaggle of relatives, gushing over their lost lamb returned to the flock. Between fixing her son’s hair and praising him for doing so well in his first fall quarter, this wonderfully loving mother couldn’t stop holding her little boy. It had presumably been at least two months since they last hugged, and she was clearly making up for lost time. By the time Saturday morning rolled around, I felt buoyed up on the love surrounding me to the point where I spent a good majority of my morning stretched out on The Oval surrounded by children’s laughter, pick-up volleyball games and careening cartwheels. The freedom and lightness that comes from a lack of responsibility momentarily flooded back to me, and I stopped thinking about papers still to be written and money still to be made. I allowed myself to be carried on the backs of the anxious and doting parents that surrounded me, and I felt momentary relief.

Despite our LinkedIn profiles, our no-hands biking and our array of internship opportunities, stripped bare, we still long for those moments when we are spoiled and surrounded by the love of others. And this weekend helped to remind me that such people and such love exist in our lives.

 

Contact Hannah Broderick at inbloom ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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