We have a few big rules for living in the dorm with our family — One of them is: No Going Into Student Apartments. We often have students into our apartment, but our rule is that we don’t go into their apartments. There are always exceptions, and the bambinos sometimes do spend time in students’ apartments — but only IF they are invited by the students, and only IF that invitation is 100% initiated only by the students themselves (i.e., the bambinos are not allowed to ask to be invited in), and only IF they get permission from Mommy or Papi first. But we don’t have an open door policy… and that is for everyone’s protection, and in everyone’s best interest, for loads of reasons.
I, personally, try to not ever go into students’ apartments. This is mainly because I don’t want to run the risk of seeing something I shouldn’t see (and then being obligated to report it). I also, for the most part, just don’t want to see what they have going on in there— major generalization, I know, but it is true: many of the apartments — boys’ apartments especially — are so filthy that I cringe even seeing into them as I walk by an open door. I’d rather just not come face-to-face in any intimate way with it.
Our time with student residents is spent in our apartment, in the lounges, outside on the lawn, or — mainly — hanging out and congregating and chit-chatting in the hall. The hall is where everything happens.
So, I rarely see the inside of students’ apartments— even those in my own building.
The other day, though, Dash made a mad dash into the apartment of four male students who live in our building. Dash does this sometimes, and students seem to get a big kick out of it (in fact, they often egg him on), but it really annoys me and I get aggravated with Dash when it happens. (Dash loves to try to find food/crumbs/all-sorts-of-interesting-things in these apartments… and these apartments are often just chock-full-of-interesting-doggie-delights for him to find.) Usually I can get him back right away, but this time, he just wouldn’t come to me when I was calling him out (there were lots of fun crumbs all over this particular apartment’s floor). So, as a last resort, I ended up going into the apartment to get Dash. I got him, picked him up (the students were laughing and loving all this drama), and I was turning to leave when I saw their refrigerator.
I had to stop and look. The entire fridge was covered in various pieces of artwork by Meera. It was like one big collection of paintings/drawings/colorings that Meera had given them over the course of the year. The only other things on the fridge were a couple of magnets and a photo of Kyle, Owen, and Meera from Halloween.
I was really struck by it. I had these really heart-melting feelings… these guys have this stuff on their fridge. Not at all in a weird way, just in a totally sweet way. These are cool, smart, nice, athletic, very high-achieving, male Lehigh students. I don’t even know how to explain it… but it is so amazing, and it must just be so highly unusual, to have a fridge like this in an apartment like that. It looked the the fridge of a doting parent, or a loving uncle, or proud grandparent, or best-friend-of-the-family maybe. But the fridge of a bunch of guys who live in a dorm with a professor’s family….?
I said, “Oh my gosh, guys, your fridge is covered with Meera’s artwork?!” It had literally almost taken my breath away. Here I am, a professor, seeing this. “Oh, yeah!” they said proudly. I said, “Oh my gosh, you’ve kept all of it this whole year?” They said, “Of course! We love that stuff!” They seemed surprised that I was surprised.
I asked if I could take a picture because I just know that nobody would believe me without the actual proof.
It was —I don’t know— I don’t know how to describe what it was — it was just so captivating, so delightful, so adorable and refreshing… It was the cutest, sweetest, funniest thing I had seen in a long, long time.