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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Things No One Ever Told Me (but I Wish I'd Known Ahead of Time....)

Many of you know that my oldest son turned 18 last month. There have definitely been some growing pains for everyone with this. Big changes have cropped up at every turn.
We have watched our son go from skating the razor's edge of getting through the remainder of his senior year to careening over the edge of the cliff. There was a time when we hoped for a B average. When that didn't happen, we calculated how many points it would take to get the lowest possible D- so we pass the classes. Nick has always been a good kid, although performance in school was always a worry. He is a very bright kid, he just never saw the value or had the internal drive to do well in school, resulting in acing tests and taking zeros on homework, which generally causes the GPA to take a big hit.

Since his birthday in February, it reached another level. He could start signing himself out of school, and he did it .... alot. Once he moved all his stuff out after signing himself out of school and moved in with his friend for a couple days, until he showed back up at home. He came back, and I thought we had reached an agreement - he would finish up his last semester of school and at least graduate. It was a tenuous situation at best, but we were headed for the finish line. Or so I thought.

Last Friday was the last day of school before spring break, and we found Nick had not come home for lunch from school and we knew something was up. After a little calling around, we finally got a text from Nick saying he had gone on a spring break trip (news to us) with his friends to the UP of Michigan and he would be back the following Saturday. Nothing we could really do - technically he's an adult and can take himself on vacation. Oh yeah - he also quit his job, a job for which he was getting school credit for as a youth apprenticeship class.

Yesterday, we called him to find out when to expect him. He texted us back after ignoring the call to tell us he liked it there so they were going to stay there, in another state, hours away. "I'll let you know more details as they become available." (WTF is that??)

So like it or not, I guess he is done with school and not going to talk to us. Disheartening I know, but hopefully he will come around to at least have a conversation with us soon. We love him and miss him, but we can't live his life for him. He always has liked to learn his lessons the hard way. So for now, I guess we just sit back and wait for the other shoe to drop, and work out our frustration on the track and trainer.

It's so hard to watch someone make decisions you know will affect them for the rest of their life, and knowing they are really only hurting themselves. It's like watching a train wreck happen right in front of you. Being a parent is a much tougher job than I thought I was signing on for......... I feel like maybe I should apologize to my parents for my own boneheaded stunts.


Kim said...

Don't have any kids of my own but I found myself recently having a similiar conversation with my niece. While she finished school and is onto college and doing well... she has decided at 19 its time to get married... I wish I could talk her into waiting about 4yrs but, much like when I was that age, no one could tell me anything. It is hard to see them learn these life lessons on their own but most times, its the lessons that are the hardest learned that we get the most from...

S. Baboo said...

Boy that’s tough. Kids and young adults make so many bad decisions that end up causing them a lot of hardship but I always believe that you have to hold to the kind of example you have shown them throughout their childhood. Once they awaken from the hazy thinking of young adulthood that example becomes their fall back position and if it is solid they can turn their lives around to something much better.

Anonymous said...

Crud...parenting is hard. Our oldest will be 18 in a few months. I was talking to a friend (who also has a son that age) last week about that helpless feeling you get as a mom when they make bad decisions. Sometimes I wonder what the heck is going on in their heads. Something she said that made me feel better is that she has seen many times the older child rebels more when they are young but they end up being the more responsible one as an adult. (no offense to younger siblings, cuz, hey...I am one!)

I know (and am related to) a lot of people who dropped out of school, put their parents through tons of grief, and made choices much worse than your son, but they grew up to be very responsible, successful adults.

I dunno, maybe if teenagers don't rebel when they're young, they will later as adults. It's no fun to the wonderful parents who wiped their butts when they were babies, though!

Sounds like you are adapting and taking things in stride like a good mom does :)

Brigitte said...

Big, big hug to you. You have to remember that you planted some very good seeds in that boy, eventually, they will grow into a reasonable adult. He is still young. Just needs to mature.
You just have to wait ( much, much easier said then done). But those kids are independant being that are responsible for their own actions. And that was not in the sales pitch!!!

Anonymous said...

I guess I have to come out of lurkdome for this. Are you sure you're not talking about my son? I went thru the same thing a few years ago. He's taken some hard knocks over the past couple of years. Just when I think I can't stand not knowing where he is anymre he calls me and lets me know he's okay, he's taking a college class, working 2 jobs, etc. Like a previous commentor said, have faith that the seeds you planted will eventually start to bloom. It's not your fault, he's just "wired" differently than you are. And I know you don't know me from Adam, but Hugs! ~Terri

Ultra, Iron "GeekGirl" Misty said...

I haven't written about my oldest yet, becuase mostly my posts would say, " still trying to find himself." Derek is a brilliant young man who is highly gifted in mathematics, and he decided to use it to try to break into the school's computer system, several circumvent our security...several times, all the while failing computer science because, "it's too much work." he was failing English and History for the same reason, and yawning his way through a B in advanced trigonometry when we pulled him out of school, made him get his GED, and put him in the military. It was one of the most painful things I've ever done. There's not message here other than, "Sing it, they can make you smile...they can break your heart." The best I do for Derek is email cross my fingers for him that he'll get it together one of these days. I had mixed, painful feelings about putting him the military, but he didn't really have street smarts and I couldn't just kick him out, so there he is. He's 24 and just reinlisted, still trying to find himself.

Athena said...

Wow wow wow. That is a heavy, hurtful burden for you guys. And it feels like a scary preview of coming attractions for us as parents. My kid will be 18 before he graduates, and he is my "Esau"--always ready to sell out the future for the present. That's a hard row to hoe--I've been down it myself. Empathy and love and hugs to you guys.

Ultra, Iron "GeekGirl" Misty said...

PS: I did manage to thank both my parents to putting up with me and not hacking em up into pieces and burying me in the back yard. As for the oldest, there is something you can do, but it's tough: it involves boxes and a locksmith and its permanant. That's basically what my parents did with me, and I grew up really fast and started making decisions a little more thoughtfully. (Not right away, mind you...but eventually...)

Dan Seifring said...

You, Mike, and Nick are in my thoughts. Hope he comes to his senses.

Lisa said...

Sooo sorry to hear this is happening. I have a 16 year old son who seems to be heading in the same direction as your son. My heart truly goes out to you guys. I love you idea about "working it out on the track and the trainer." Those are fabulous stress reducers....they just don't do much for the heart ache.

r said...

I'm so sorry! I did something similar after dropping out of college, I left home, didn't talk to my dad, and just did stupid stuff for about a year. After that I realized I was stupid and got into college and turned things around. Sometimes its what a kid needs to do. Be on their own, make mistakes, figure otu how to fix them. I hope he's doing well and that he's figuring it out (and quickly). Hopefully he'll be in touch with you guys soon!

Country Cruiser said...

Same ship different dock,
Our 17 yrd old daughter is currently living with her 25 yr old boyfriend, who doesn't feel the need to work. Age makes no difference to the cops, we finally had to make a deal with her if she graduated in December she could leave and we would not send the cops out to get her and bring her home. It has been the hardest year of my life! It seems we are not alone!!

Big hugs and prayers for you!

Hang in there!

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