This week, I dealt with an irate parent because his daughter’s car was towed from our lot. I don’t like towing cars from our lot, but because of our proximity to campus and 2 very large sororities, abuses happen regularly. His rant and veiled threats got me to thinking about other students and parents who have experienced bad days while in school. I wish I would have said something along these lines:
Your daughter made a mistake. She bypassed multiple “no parking” signs, and pulled in to a spot marked “reserved.” She disregarded the direction of her sorority leaders who said not to park in the lot. Maybe a friend said it was ok, that she could get away with it. Even really smart kids make dumb mistakes sometimes. If this is the worst thing that she- and you- have to deal with in your time at the university, consider yourself fortunate. Yes, it disrupted her schedule and your wallet. It the big picture, it was an inconvenience at best. You, and she, are lucky indeed that this is a mistake that does not hold lasting consequences.
Here are some situations that constitute a horrible, rotten, no good, very bad day:
-If I meet you in the ICU, that is a bad day.
-If your daughter has to make the decision “abortion” or “adoption,” that is a bad day.
-If you are learning the rape statutes in Arkansas, and the reporting procedures related to rape or sexual assault, that is a bad day.
-If I call you to say that your daughter needs help immediately because she is exhibiting signs of harming herself, that is a bad day.
-If your daughter attempts suicide, that is a bad day.
-If you daughter is sleeping in her car because her living situation is unsafe, but she is too embarrassed or afraid to tell anyone, that is a bad day.
-If your daughter has a complete breakdown, and is diagnosed with one of the several mental disorders that can occur in the 18-22 yr old range, that is a bad day.
-If your daughter finally feels safe enough to confide that she was raped or molested years ago, and you are searching out counseling opportunities on campus to help her heal, that is a day to celebrate, but it still counts as a bad day.
Let’s gain some perspective. This was a mistake, and mistakes quite often carry consequences, but this one does not rise to the level of a “horrible, rotten, no good, very bad day.” I really do hope you can count this as her worst experiences in college.
Even if I had been able to say all that, I don’t think you would have listened. You weren’t really interested in listening to the other side of the story. I think I just needed to remind myself what really constituted a “bad day.”
If you or a friend is in need of help, for abuse, rape, or sexual assault, or needs counseling, the U of A offers excellent services through the Pat Walker Health Clinic, http://health.uark.edu/352.php. Or, you may contact your Campus Minister, who will listen to your story and help you navigate the resources you might need. Please note, other than pregnancy, all the issues I mentioned above affect young men, too. I just chose to address everything from the female perspective.
A Campus Minister