As a non-traditional, older student I found that younger students respond to me in one of two ways. First is to treat me as the uncool “mom” with whom they want nothing to do. Case in point is the shuttle down to campus. Other students will do anything not to have to sit next to me. Students, particularly male ones, will start walking up the aisle, pass up an open seat or two in the hopes of getting something in the back only to notice that the only available seat towards the back is the one next to the old lady. Me.
Once they have realized that, they will turn around and go back to one of the seats they passed. What do they think I am going to do? Chat their ear off during the ride? No, thank you. I have emails to respond to, books to read for class, and taking an occasional doze against the window.
Do they expect I will try to "mom" them on the way? Tell them that they are wearing the wrong clothes, their hair is too long (or too short), or express my disappointment in their choice of major? Nope. I have my own teenager to harass, thank you very much. And my age isn't catching. They will still be 19 years old at the end of the trip.
The second response is the she-will-have-an-answer-for-everything-type. This is where things get interesting. Some exciting dilemmas have come my way, from dating trouble, to class registration suggestions, career questions, requests for cleaning advice, and even financial quandaries.
Student (making direct eye contact with me): What credit card should I get?
Me: I’m sorry?
Student: What kind of credit card, I want to apply for one.
Student: I want to buy a watch.
Me (mom hackles raised): Do you think you could save up for a watch?
Student (ignoring question): Well, what kind of credit card do you have?
(Inappropriate I know) Me: None. I don’t believe in them.
Student (looking super perplexed): Really?
Me: Yes, you can get yourself in a lot of trouble if you aren’t careful, and if the only reason you want one is to buy a watch, you are better off just saving up for it.
Student (not looking convinced): I guess so.
The power of the mom doesn't stop there, and honestly I have just embraced it.
I have zipped up students’ backpacks as stuff was spilling out. Dispensed ibuprofen to those with headaches, hand wipes to those with food on their fingers (I am being serious) and of course various office supplies. I became known in my lit and film class to be "the one with the stapler" for papers, and always had an extra pencil in my math class (who was I kidding trying to use pen to do those equations?)
I have offered to take on the leadership role of whatever group I was assigned, and have just assumed (rightly so) that I would be relegated to task master at whatever table I joined.
Routinely I have offered my cell number to anyone who has needed help, and answered random text messages about homework at 11:30pm. More often than not it is appreciated, and if it isn't? Well, I just am just too cool to worry about them anyway...