You're Happy, I'm Happy
As far as landmark Bates weekends go, the Parents & Family Weekend vibe is distinct, differing quite a bit from, say, Reunion’s happy feel. During the latter event, alumni tap into deep reservoirs of shared memories to fuel their camaraderie. But at a parents weekend, the goodwill seems freshly discovered.
Ira Waldman ’73 and Laurie Waldman of Playa del Rey, Calif., have sent both of their children to Bates — Shayna graduated in the spring, while Ethan is a sophomore. Besides five consecutive parents weekends, Ira has experienced countless alumni gatherings. A Los Angeles attorney, he’s happily rabid about Bates. “Ira can sell Bates to anyone,” says his assistant. “I would be very curious about the school if I listened to Ira.”
Bates parents are happy when they visit their Bates children, Waldman says, for the same reason that a baby’s first smile electrifies mom and dad. “Parents get here, especially for the first time, and find how much their child loves the school,” he says. “That makes them incredibly happy and proud.”
Sherry Eldredge, mother of football captain Coleman Peeke ’09, appears on this page cheering — really cheering — for her son during the game against Williams. She phrases Waldman’s parenting truism this way: “You’re only as happy as your saddest child.”
In a conversation, Eldredge is quick to apologize if she’s ever “horrified” anyone with her cheering. “Then again, I graduated from Alabama when Bear Bryant was there,” she laughs. “I understand the fan thing.” Still, she says, “I tell myself to sit on the sidelines. But it kills me. I have to cheer. I watch them, all the boys, work so hard. They don’t win much, but they do not give up.”
Waldman is asked if the parents weekend routine has gotten stale. “No, because there are always surprises,” he says. “Ethan told me he was trying out for the Crosstones, and I told him he’s a singer like Bob Dylan is a singer. Then he says, ‘I made it.’ There he was this year, performing and doing a solo. And he was good. That’s just…wow.”