South Park Self

Mother, Father, all those battles that have been

I quite like students, but frequently I find their parents inexplicable. We are in the throes of orientation and registration simultaneously, which means ten-hour days during which I give uninterrupted curriculum talks for three and a half hours and then spend the rest of the day in registration. Over the course of the last few days parents of students have done the following:

  1. Sat down next to me in the main venue in which the orientation leaders were doing a vociferous welcome dance over very loud thumping music, and tried to have an intense, complicated conversation about their offspring's curriculum choices. And been surprised and clearly annoyed when I suggested that this wasn't the time or place. And that they weren't the person, frankly.
  2. Given me their card so that I can contact them "if anything happens" to their darling offspring, whom they have "entrusted" to me, apparently me personally. I don't think the reality of "four and a half thousand undergraduate students in this faculty" had actually sunk in.
  3. Walked into a lecture venue where I was giving a curriculum talk to 50 students, walked up to me as I stood in front of the class addressing them, interrupted me mid-sentence, and told me that they need to discuss their offspring's degree choice. And were surprised and clearly a bit annoyed when I said that I was, in fact, giving curriculum talks right now and they need to wait until the end of the session. Who does that? It's as if students aren't people and can be indefinitely put on hold while the grown-ups talk. It's bloody insulting, is what.

This year the orientation t-shirts say "JUST ASK ME!" in large letters on the front. This was, in hindsight, something of a tactical error, as the usual orientation/registration problem, viz. my inability to walk more than three steps without someone stopping me to ask me about their course choices because they've recognised me from orientation or curriculum advice, has become a new, exciting orientation/registration problem where absolutely anyone stops me to ask me about absolutely anything ever because of my t-shirt. Apparently I look approachable.

My car music has wandered into the zone of New Model Army, whose punk sensibility and tendency to rail against the system is pleasingly apposite. Subject line from "Inheritance". Today's Yoof have a serious problem in their parental helicopters.
Helicopter Parents
Have you considered having the helipad redeveloped, eg: into a minefield?

And yes, modern parents are amazing, mostly in all the wrong ways. Presumably there are some good ones 'out there', but they'll be the ones not bothering you.
Re: Helicopter Parents
We don't even have a helipad, dammit! Which is probably why they try to land on me. I need a decoy helipad. A minefield is definitely an idea. One which distributes cluebombs.
I solemnly swear
to do my best to restore the cosmic balance by being the exact opposite of a helicopter parent. Rabenmütter R us! Little darlings will have to cope entirely by their sweet selves, I am far too lazy (and socially inept, frankly) to get involved.

There. That'll help. It may not exactly help the little darlings, perchance I should find some middle ground, but eh. Whatevs.