Family Day at My Son’s Fraternity House
When the invitation to spend family day at my son’s fraternity house arrived, all I could envision was a bunch of college boys trying to make “Animal House” look presentable. Was that even possible? I sure hope so. After all, this place is running mostly on parental donations and dues. Surely, they will want us to approve of the investment, right?
We walked up to the tables and tents nicely set up around the front lawn. There were parents eagerly looking for their sons and boys, sleepily and not nearly as excited (it was before noon, mind you) looking for their parents. I was impressed that most of the boys looked clean and put together in nice knit, collared shirts and khaki shorts. (Southern frat boy uniform?) The house was neat and clean. Not as nicely decorated as the sorority houses but after raising (and teaching) boys, I knew that high end decor would be lost on these guys.
Next came the introductions, of which I was most amused. Jack, Jackson, Jacob (but known as Jack) and my son, Reed. I now call them Reed and the Jacks. There was also Evan and Alberto but my son knows when I say the Jacks, that they are included too. I proceeded, like only a good mom does, with the full once over. My questions were straight from the latest crime show investigation, ‘Where are you from, where did you go to school, what’s your major, what’s your life plan, have you ever been convicted of a crime and who’s your Mom and Dad?”
I was pleasantly surprised to find my son hanging out with young men who possessed lofty life goals! Yea! Mom win on that one. These guys would be more inclined to study than party if they were going to meet those goals. So, friend choice was good! Wait, does this mean that my son will be the party animal, bad influencer in the group? True possibility. Apple-Tree. Pot-Kettle
You get my drift. After all, he does come from parents who sometimes prioritized fun over studying. The question is, would he?
Now comes the fun part … my son wanted to show us his bedroom in the fraternity house. Oh, here we go. I get to see the inside of the animal house. I expected a John Belushi look alike to be sitting at the top of the stairs trying to hide his joint from my view while choking on a puff of smoke. I expected unmade beds, beer cans strewn about and trash shoved in a corner where the boys wouldn’t think we would see it. Have I mentioned that I’m a professional organizer, who co-wrote a book on organizing the Southern home? My kids have been making their beds, folding their clothes and keeping their rooms clean since they were young. Reed was no longer under my roof and I was prepared for the worst.
Instead, I saw polite young men opening doors, clearing the doorways as we walked through, standing up to introduce themselves to my husband and I with a hand shake and full eye contact. These were no longer the teen boys I had seen for the past few years that would perform when asked or told. These were polite, gentile young men. The Southern mom in me was beaming.
I digress. Back to the frat house bedroom … and my sweet boy. He knows how to get to his mama’s heart. Bed made, clothes all put away, floor was neat and clean. He even opened one drawer to show me his file folded t-shirts. He then politely asked me not to open the other drawers! HA! There was even a book on leadership laying on his nice clean and organized desk. I can’t promise that it won’t be a mess tomorrow, but today, when he knew I was coming, he had it all neat and clean. I’ll take it!
Fraternity’s tend to have bad reputations across the nation due to their significant partying and hazing and for some fraternities this might be spot on. I went to this event with my eyes wide open, looking for reasons he shouldn’t stay involved. I was nervous about his new friends and what they would be like. That morning, after the visitation was winding down, there was a presentation where awards and accolades were given out. Many of the men (Jack’s included) received awards for their 4.0 GPA’s, leadership skills and volunteering. Nice! I learned that his fraternity has had a long-standing run as the fraternity with the highest GPA on campus. Also, nice! Much of the parental donations go to the “Balanced Man Scholarship.”
It wasn’t just about the grades in this house; it was about holding each other to a higher standard than the average population. These young men were being mentored into men who were leaders, gentlemen and scholars. Family day at the frat house confirmed that this was a great second home for my son. Grades are important to him, his friend choice is solid and the bar to be a gentlemen is set very high. Win!
About the Author
Martha Carol Stewart, wife to Mike, advocate for kindness, life consultant to Riley and Reed, enthusiastic about creating fun and clutter free lives, owner of Chaos Organizing.