Parents know how to make you glad they’ve gone

You’ve been at Warwick for five hours now — mum’s taken you around two small shopping centres, bought you an overpriced lunch and is giving the impression she might be about to cry.

Parents know how to make you glad they’ve gone

This is the tragedy and the macabre enticement of arrivals weekend. The undercurrents that link your maturity with your parents mortality have the power to ruin what would otherwise be an excellent opportunity to get shitfaced.

What could be less appropriate than going to a well-lubed party to celebrate the events of this rainy Saturday: you left your parents forever. They have driven away, stifling tears, and will eventually die.

The thing is, parents — being smart old farts — know how to play with your emotions. Had they dumped you outside halls, swallowed a few chesty coughs and staggered, backs stooped as they wept into ragged grey handkerchiefs, away with a solemn wave, you would surely regret their absence. You would dwell on the unfortunate reality that they have already lived more than half their lives, and that many have scarcely lived at all.

That’s not how parents roll though. The drop-off-at-uni process is conventionally a day-long one for good reason. By the time you’ve been walked around Tesco — trolley filled with all the vaguely childish, vaguely middle-aged things you know from childhood — by the time you’ve chewed through a vegan fry-up, and by the time you’ve had your room filled with new duvets and desk lamps, your perception of ‘parent’ is altogether different.

Though terribly sweet and possibly terribly upset, parents, you’re helpfully reminded, will always be a bit of a pain and probably aren’t going anywhere soon.

After the nine-hour goodbye treatment, the new student can wave his or her mother or father off with a clear conscience. In some cases, even with a little resentment.

That’s how it ought to be. Ten weeks later, as you field yet another request that you fill the dishwasher since you ‘do absolutely nothing around the house’, you question seriously what came over you in that rainy October weekend.