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Parent-sitting

Molly Rettig
Dominique TaylorRosanna Zallwice, right, tries on hats in Wild Bill's Emporium while husband Bernard, left, and son Bruce de Cameron, center, look on. The couple, who live in New York, are visiting Vail Village this week.
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Game on. That date that sat on the horizon for so long is now here: Your parents are in town and ready to roll.

This is a touch different from when my college friends visited me in Vail and I just made sure to get the weekend off ” or when a couple of old soccer pals came to town and I responsibly double-checked that I had lift tickets and ample couch space for them. I realized this parental visit was going to require a bit more attention to detail than those times. My youth was about to collide with my present, and I wanted to make extra sure a great time was had by the two who raised me.

Adults tend to appreciate structure more than twentysomething peers, and they aren’t quite as thrilled with an agenda of sleeping in, ordering take-out, watching football, perhaps an afternoon hike, topped off with a pub crawl.

Thus, some parent prep is in order, involving getting time off work, parent-proofing your apartment, planning daily activities, mentally preparing to wake up early, and possibly the most fun of all: making reservations at chic restaurants that are otherwise unfeasible for me to visit.

One obstacle I’ve faced in the advent of my parents’ arrival has been the awkward timing of a late-September visit. How do you plan your recreation when you don’t know whether the weekend will bring snow days or dog days? How do you tell parents what to pack when you don’t know if you’ll be hiking or snowshoeing, rafting or relegated to the Ski Museum and art galleries to stay warm?

Steven Rappaport, my friend whose parents visited in mid-September, empathized with this.

“The most fun thing to do was just catch up,” he said. “They came at a time when there wasn’t really anything to do. We drove to Aspen, walked around there. Lots of walking that weekend.”

Steven said his biggest challenge was that it was slow season. While in the winter and summer it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day in Vail, that’s not the case in autumn.

Vail local Ray Dixon put his finger on where this pressure as kid-host comes from.

“You know your parents are there specifically to see you,” he said. “When it’s only you that it’s about, it can be difficult.”

The highlights of his weekend in Vail with his father were horseback riding at Piney River Ranch and seeing “An Inconvenient Truth,” the Al Gore movie, which spurred discourse on global warming between them for the rest of their time together. While many of us, myself included, fret about filling up our parents’ plates with fun and Alpine Adventure, they’re just concerned with spending quality time with their kid and getting a glimpse of our free-spirited lifestyle.

Yet we can get more out of this than earfuls of sibling updates and home-town current events. I asked Steven if he received any special treatment from his parents. “Oh hell yeah. We went to dinner at Montauk and Terra Bistro; Mom bought me a new snowboarding jacket, new snowboarding pants, a rain jacket and new sneakers.”

One weekend’s worth of swag in exchange for keeping the ‘rents entertained. Not a bad price to pay.

And what to do about your social life: Do you put it on hold, try to squeeze it in around the edges, or actually incorporate your family into your group of friends?

“I took my roommate out to eat with us, and introduced them to people at work,” Steven said. “But then I would drop them off at the hotel at 8 and then go out.”

I also invited my roommates out to eat and had my parents back to my apartment to check out the digs. Trying to live down my high school and college reputation for being a messy slacker, I organized and cleaned the house before exposing Mom and Dad to the scene. But I failed to wipe out that past because of a simple oversight. Don’t let it happen to you: Stocked toilet paper in the bathroom always makes a good impression when you bring your parents home.


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