By Brandie Clark
The bedroom down the hall is empty, the television hasn’t been turned on in weeks, I change the sheets more out of habit than need, the clothes hanging in the closet go unworn, my son has moved out into the dorms. College life loomed ahead of him. The journey began with chemistry, biology, math, history, the trip to Ecaudor, the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon, and Honor’s classes. Paul is the first in our family to attend a 4-year university right out of high school. As if that weren’t enough, a fraternity too?
This is my first blog, my first attempt at recording my experience beyond a diary I kept in Jr. High. It is with great pride that I take this mission on. As a new fraternity Mom, as a college Mom (now with 2 boys in college), as an excited Mom, a sounding board, an observer, a woman, a single Mom, as a colleague, as a friend, as a confidant… I hope to tell you our story. I have faith that I will be sharing stories that will excite you, stories that will alleviate the fears, stories that will inspire, stories that will make you laugh, stories that may make you shed a tear, stories that will bond us PARENTS of the ones chosen to be Phi Delts. This, I know, is going to be a journey, not only for Paul but also for myself.
Before I tell you how it began, let me tell you what I knew about Fraternities before my son decided to pledge. My first memories of “Frats” include scenes from Van Wilder, Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds. There is no way I would want my kid involved in that! Visions of crazy Toga parties, beds being thrown out of the frat house windows, beer chugging contests & bra’s hanging from chandeliers. I actually pledged as a “little sister” to one of those “Frats” in my last year of high school. I will keep the name out of this blog as things may be very different now. So, believe me, I have/had those same fears, anxieties & maybe a few giggles that you might be having. Phi Delta Theta isn’t one of those, and perhaps they don’t exist anymore. The few men I have met on campus that are Phi Delts are respectable, well-mannered gentlemen. I haven’t heard any rumors, nor seen any evidence that this behavior exists within the Phi Delts and that makes me a happy Mom.
How it all started. I am awakened to a text from Paul, it reads “I got a bid”. Huh? A what? How does that happen? What do I need to do? Can I see it? Can I touch it? Oh wait… can you tell me? Two days before my son’s 19th birthday he received his bid. What a great birthday present! What is a bid you might ask, just as I did. Well… from what I understand, it meant the brothers of the Phi Delta Theta Cal Rho chapter at the University of La Verne in La Verne, California found my son to be what they were looking for to join their group? Family? Organization? Fraternity? This is all so new to me! I can’t wait to have all the right terminology, be able to say all the right things, but for now (day 3) I am still “winging” it, and learning just as my son is learning his part. The next night was the actual pinning ceremony, where he received this diamond shaped light blue pin with the word “Phikeia”. He is actually a Phikeia of the Alpha Xi class. He has been elected the Phikeia Class Chair, how exciting, right? I have been told it is a 6-week process from Phikeia to Phi Delta Theta, and that some don’t make it. So many things to do, so much to learn, and then (IF he makes it—which I have faith he will) the initiation into Brotherhood. He was so full of pride, as was I! I was so sad to find out that this is a ceremony and therefore I couldn’t attend. (One more way us parents must let go. Sigh! ) We are becoming a Phi Delta Theta family!
February 25, 2013 was his 19th birthday. Across the table from me sat an emerging man… a pledge for Phi Delta Theta AKA Phikeia. His pin perfectly place above his heart, just as it should be. Proudly he showed us his Phikeia book, and recited the Greek Alphabet for me. His little sister & I listened as he told us about his excitement, looking forward to the bonding exercises, the rock painting, meetings, rituals (which he explains he can’t talk about), the philanthropic activities to come, and the pledging process. As we left his birthday dinner, he quickened his pace to make sure he opened the door for us. Such a gentleman in the making… Thank you Phi Delts!
It was comforting to hear that hazing won’t be a part of his experience transitioning from a Phikeia to a Phi Delta Theta. When he told me the beginning of his freshman year that he wanted to join a fraternity, I will admit, I had some trepidation but also some excitement. I had such pride that my son wanted to display a Greek symbol, take part in a “family” bigger than our own, share secrets, pride, and love of this organization. As I read more about Phi Delta Theta, read the list of accomplished Phi Delts included men such as Neil Armstrong, Frank Lloyd Wright, Tim Conway, Phil Walden and so many more! I knew my son was going to be in good and honorable company.
Our family embraces this experience! We can’t wait for the next step! Watching our Son, Grandson, Brother, Nephew grow to a man as a Phi Delta Theta.
Brandie (Paul’s Mom)