Tag Archives: college

I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues

OK - I know the song is not from this album, but it's the best artwork....

OK – I know the song is not from this album, but it’s the best artwork….

I’ve had a shitty week – there’s no other way to sugar coat this.  I’ve been seriously disappointed by some colleagues, and that’s not a life lesson that I needed to learn.

So, I had an overwhelming urge to talk to my kids.  Henry always manages to make me laugh (even though he’s not always trying…)  I called him first.  “Hi Henry…  I’ve had a rotten day and I called to get cheered up.”  “WELL YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE CALLED ME THEN!!!!  Because I’m having a bad day too!”  OK then…  Guess we’ll talk about this later.  Coincidentally, John (#1 Son), was driving through town on his way to Guelph for homecoming.  And of course, there was a required stopover for cash…  But I have to say that #1 Son is a great hugger, and I felt better after he’d been through.

How do we deal with the blues?  On this occasion, I felt like I’d been through a battle – I was exhausted.  I needed to sleep, but couldn’t.  And when I could sleep, I’d wake up with the same dark feeling.

I’ve reconciled myself with what happened to cause this feeling.  I need to move on with my life and I refuse to let this get me down.  I’m blessed to have a partner who is unwaveringly supportive and loving – Left Brain’s “Momma Bear” instincts came rushing to the surface to protect me.  He was as wounded as I.  So, as a team, we, and I will prevail.

Does Henry know that he is not on his own?  When he’s feeling overwhelmed, anxious, agitated and/or “down” – does he know that all he has to do is reach out?  This worries me – he’s made some friends/acquaintances, but I don’t think he’s surrounded at school by people who always have his back.  I plan to connect with his disability advisor in the next couple of days to get a sense of how she thinks he’s coping.

And what was bothering Henry when I called him?  He’d been assigned a partner to do an assignment in one of his classes.  He could not connect with this other student, and was stressing about failing an assignment.  In the end, he completed the assignment on his own and handed it in….

The Anxiety of all the Newness….

So, this past week, I checked in with Henry – I am making a conscious effort not to call him too much – he’s told me that I’m being annoying…

We had deposited a significant amount of money into his account so that he could purchase his books.  Then we had to wade through the bank’s policies regarding how much he could take out in one day or one week…  We will be getting him a credit card to deal with such contingencies in future.  However, we did ask him for an accounting of the books thus far.  It turns out that he didn’t need quite the amount he had originally asked for.  In fact, he only needed about half the amount.  Now – most people would think they had been scammed…  But Henry does not have these artifices – he doesn’t know how to lie and if he tries, his face becomes so contorted that he gives himself away in a nanosecond!  But by his reckoning, the money was already there, so why mess with that?  (Take a moment to think this over, if you like…  a sip of coffee or bathroom break…)  I know that that logic made perfect sense to Henry, and indeed, probably to any teenager/young adult.  He was flabbergasted that we would expect the overage back!

So, then on to the next phase of our conversation, which was – he was spending cash on purchasing meals on campus.  This after a significant investment in a food plan – which is mandatory when you live in residence.  After a confused and panicked exchange of words, in which I directed him to get a little more information about where he could use his student card to swipe for meals, we hung up.  After which I received this text….

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Now – I’m no Svengali or mind reader, but I think he was upset!  So I called him back (obviously before Henry’s recommended time period).  He was extremely upset and sounded on the verge of tears.  I calmed him – let him know he was not going to starve; that we would work out an acceptable allowance; that he would have enough money to get by; that we were all figuring out this new situation and we would work it out.  News flash…  There is a happy ending…

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Moving Up – Part 2…

So, it’s Sunday night…  We moved him in this morning.  Henry was tense – I was tense.  He was “snappish” with me – although, to be fair, trying to put a duvet into a duvet cover is an exercise in patience and frustration…

When we left, he walked out to the car with us, where there were prolonged hugs.  I got in the car and started driving, and thought – OK!  I’m good!  This is an exciting time for Henry and a new chapter for me (and Left Brain).  This is what you work for, right?

We decided to golf today – why not?  Beautiful day – no reason to have to rush home…  We met a group of friends who immediately asked about Henry – thankfully, I had my sunglasses on.  The problem with writing a blog is that everyone knows what’s going on in your life – which is also a good thing.  But today – all I could do was nod – “yes – Henry’s good – I’m fine” – and then I had to go to the bathroom where I began to cry in a piteous way.  And I’m afraid I’m one of those “ugly criers”…  I had to do this privately.  Once recovered, I rejoined the crowd (with my sunglasses firmly planted on my nose – no need to share my swollen, red, puffy eyes…)  Later, my eyes would be red and puffy because of the pathetic “play” on the course, but that’s another story…  Just as an aside, I have to send big thank you’s to all my Mom friends, who have been so supportive and understanding during this time.  They all “get” what a big thing this is for Henry and for me.

I kept my phone on today, just in case…  Henry hardly ever calls me, unless there’s a money emergency!  He called three times today.  I was pathetically glad to hear from him.

So…. my baby’s gone for good.  But even worse, what if he comes home?  Will he make friends? Will he leave his room for fun stuff, and not just to eat?  Will he have a good time?  When you’ve spent so many years controlling an environment for your child, this loss of control is excruciating.  I know I have to let go, but jeez – it’s hard.  I have a headache – think I’ll take two Advil and go to bed….

Moving Up?

Wasn't sure whether the Clampetts or Jeffersons should be used for this blog...

Wasn’t sure whether the Clampetts or Jeffersons should be used for this blog…

We turn the corner into the driveway – it has become a familiar drive – and I have an overwhelming sensation of wanting to throw up!  This is something that I haven’t felt since pregnancy, and/or an unfortunate experience with Harvey Wallbangers…..(and Long Island Iced Teas… in fact, any drinks whose syllables are longer than 3 should be avoided altogether – but include in that category wine which is being “refreshed” by your brother-in-law, who has decided that food is an unnecessary distraction!  But, I digress…)

I am moving Henry into residence today.  I’m so conflicted….  We have been working towards this goal for almost 19 years – I’m not sure we’re ready… (Henry and I… not Left Brain (he says he’s looking forward to some quiet in the house – I may have to become obnoxiously loud).

So – let’s talk about Henry first.  He is at turns very excited, and then lashing out at me.  The lashing out is always explained by him…. “I’m under a lot of pressure right now Mom…”  SO AM I, I want to shout…  Back to yesterday…  We paid extra so that he could move in early, before the throngs of kids who will be coming on Sunday and Monday.  I had prepared and purchased everything that I thought he would need (see earlier post, “Please Don’t Make Me Go….”)  If he was missing anything, then I would have time to get it before his official move-in date.  We forgot a few things at home (my fault – I should have checked exactly what he was packing in the car…)  After a bed check – this one is too soft – this one is just right;

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we began to put a few things up on the walls.  I bought some of those sticky things that don’t mark the wall.  And they don’t mark the wall!  But they also don’t stick the desired poster to the wall!!!  Figures!  So Henry laboriously peels and sticks 50 more little squares to adhere his calendar (so he can stay organized) to the back of the thing and then repositions it on the wall.  Two minutes later – clunk!  Not working – whereupon he’s about to launch into the stratosphere.  I am making a list as we go along to note anything that we need, or isn’t working.  When he’s calm (sort of), I show him the list so he’s reassured that we won’t forget anything.  Also, so he can contribute anything that he thinks is necessary!

Now… how am I doing with this transition?  I don’t know yet – we’ve been so busy this week that I am at turns agitated (read:  can’t sleep), and then so exhausted I sleep straight through with no remembrance of dreams.  Of course, I can hardly recall my name when I wake up, but that could be a menopause thing…  One of my BFF’s asked me this morning whether I needed a hug… I said yes, but declined because I was afraid I would start crying and not stop.  I called my Mom and Dad today (it’s their 55th wedding anniversary – way to go!!!  that’s a looong frikking time….)  She remarked that I’d probably have a great weekend (number one son left today as well).  I said, “Noooo – I don’t think it’s going to be a great weekend….”

We move him in permanently on Sunday.  I’ll let you know how it goes….

Looking for Mr. Right….

A little too tall for my taste, but otherwise, not bad.....

A little too tall for my taste, but otherwise, not bad…..

Tall, dark and handsome, perhaps??  Well… if I were writing this ad, and I’m not, because I’ve already found Mr. Right, but if I were….  “Average height (because tall people make me nervous…), dark and handsome.  Must be smart, have a good sense of humour and athletic (not a superstar or anything – but someone I can play tennis and golf with for eternity…)  Must be willing to NOT sweat the small stuff, and definitely not take oneself too seriously.”  Didn’t I luck out 26 years ago (!!!! – has it been that long already?)

But this ad is not about what I want…. It’s about what Henry is looking for in a roommate at college.  On the residence website, he was asked to describe himself – an ad, as it were.

“I am extremely introverted and socially awkward.”  (Good start!!!  What a selling feature!!)    “I hate loud noises and can’t stand strong smells.”  (He does realize he is a part of male teenagerdom, doesn’t he?  Aren’t all teenage boys loud and smelly?)   “I am frequently claustrophobic and need quiet to do my homework.  I am interested in science, specifically, green technology, as well as astronomy, but not pseudo-science like astrology.  I am into PC gaming and all technology.”

OK then….  Any takers?  The drill on this website is that the kids can surf, and shop each other.  If they like what they see, they can hit the bid.  So Henry waits….  A day before the deadline, a kid picks Henry.  And then unpicks him – defriends him – 10 minutes before the deadline.  That’s cold….  Henry was insulted – and then worried.  Because at this point, the college picks someone for you.  “But what if they pick a douche to be my roommate?”  I’m trying not to laugh, and calm his anxieties – because it is no small thing for him to have to share a space with someone for the next 8 months.

One of my chief concerns about Henry living in residence was the question of a roommate.  He definitely has sensitivities and has very little tolerance for alternate lifestyles (all those that differ from his own….)  He needs downtime and quiet every single day – but will especially need it when he’s dealing with a new environment and all of the academic challenges ahead.  I was relieved during the college campus tour to see that the rooms in residence consisted of two separate bedrooms (with doors), which are connected by a common lounge area, kitchenette and a bathroom that the two share.  Thank Goodness…. I wouldn’t have to make a request for him to have a room to himself (which I was fully prepared to do)….

The college has selected a roommate for him – Henry has not contacted him yet.  But we are talking this up as an exciting opportunity – a branching out – an important part of his college career – making new friends.  We will take it one step at a time – as we do with everything!  This kid doesn’t have to be Mr. Perfect – just perfect for Henry….

Please Don’t Make Me Go…..

I am prepared to bust a commonly held myth today….  Not all women like to shop.  There!  I said it!  In fact, some of us dread it….  Especially when they have to shop for and with their very particular, sensory challenged sons.

So – let’s set the scene.  I tell Henry last week that I will have time to shop with him on Monday for his new bedding for his dorm room, and maybe a couple of new shirts (he doesn’t seem to grasp yet that he won’t have someone doing his laundry twice a week come September…)  I let him know we’ll be going when I return from yoga in the morning – not at 1:30 or 2 p.m. when he rolls out of bed (quite the summer schedule – but let’s not go into that right now…)  So – I go to yoga to try and get into the right frame of mind and stretch out my muscles – try, if you will, to get my shoulders down from around my ears!  I’m trying to breathe into one of my last poses, which after 3 1/2 freaking years of practising, I still can’t do without assistance!!!!  (“Ohm – serenity now,” she thinks as she’s grunting into this pose….)

Marichyasana A (pron. marry-ches-se-na) - and that's not me!

Marichyasana A (pron. marry-ches-se-na) – and that’s not me!

So I get home, get ready and get Henry in the car.  I feel relaxed!  I’m ready for this!  I’m pumped!  We’re going to have some quality mother/son time….  I look over at him — he’s got a huge frown on his face.  Great!  This is going to be the usual torture….  Can’t I just have an outing where we cheerfully pick something out, pay for it, and go home?  Even better with him saying, “Wow Mom!  Thanks!  Really appreciate you taking the time and effort to get me something that I’ll like!”  Nirvana!!  Something to shoot for?

Anyways – that’s not what happened.  At this time of year, finding flannel sheets is damn near impossible….  But that’s what feels nice against his skin….  Christ!  I find a clearance table with amazingly, flannel duvet covers!  Unfortunately, most of them are Christmas themed – I also don’t want him to look like a dork in his dorm….  We find something appropriate – but no go on the sheets.  I want pillow protectors, but all they have are waterproof – does that mean they will make that crinkly sound every time you move your head?  That’s not going to fly!  Jesus!  Can’t anything be easy?!  We try to pay and the little zippy-thing that takes your card isn’t working…  The sales lady has to re-enter everything again on the other side….

We schlep everything to the car and come back to look at shirts.  We start to peruse….  He’s says he’s NOT buying anything that HE DOESN’T LIKE!!!!  (He thinks he’s being discreet….  he’s not….)  We pass the underwear department – “How are you fixed for underwear Henry?”  “I’M FINE!!!!”  You see where this is going….

On the way home, I’m silent.  I’m so pissed off I’m afraid if I say anything, I’ll start shrieking uncontrollably….  I park…  We start talking….  It’s always the same….  When he’s feeling anxious or stressed, he lashes out at me (while I’m trying to do something for him incidentally…)  Knowing this doesn’t help when it’s happening.  It sucks.  My shoulders are somewhere around the crown of my head – I don’t have the energy for more yoga….

News flash….  As I was writing this last paragraph, Henry came into my office, hugged me and told me he was sorry….

May I Help You?

That was my opening line….  “GO F–K YOURSELF!!!  AND F–K YOUR MOTHER TOO!!!”  OK… so this is not going to be a productive discussion….

Let me explain.  About a week ago, a Homeless Dude started sleeping on a bench outside the bank, which is at the corner of our street.  A couple of days ago, said Homeless Dude started exploring the neighbourhood – and decided inexplicably to target our house.  We live in a very distinctive looking house, in a large city, just off a main street which is on the subway line.  Very convenient for us and our kids to get around – and Homeless Dudes….  So, on this particular day, I heard a “ruckus” (that’s code for a guy yelling obscenities) in my driveway, whereupon the above “conversation” took place.  Upon realizing that nothing was going to be gained by engaging in conversation, I went back into the house and proceeded to lock it down.  As I watched and listened, he paced around the front of the house, yelled that he “did too live in this house, you f–king b–ch” and generally did not give me a sense of well being….  I called the police.

“What does he look like?”, the dispatcher asked.

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“Kind of like Santa Claus, except he’s wearing a red and white hockey jersey, dark pants and a baseball cap – and he’s extremely angry and yelling obscenities,” I say.  But he’s a dirty, nasty, belligerent Santa – like Dan Ackroyd in Trading Places!!!  (I don’t supply this helpful information to the dispatcher….)

The police came and I assume took him to a homeless shelter somewhere downtown.  But in the meantime, I tell Henry not to go out because this guy is wandering around outside our house.  No need to impress Henry with this info – his eyes are as big as saucers, and he’s pacing upstairs in his room.

Fast forward to Saturday night…. 9:45 p.m.  Homeless Dude is back and pacing outside our house again – in the middle of the street so that cars have to slow down.  Some of the drivers try to talk to him and are greeted with the same kind of scintillating conversation that I encountered on our initial meeting….  I warn our older son, who is due home from work soon to be watchful when he gets home.  Henry is pacing again – and completely pissed off – his pizza schedule has been disrupted!  Homeless Dude wanders off after yelling at the front of our house for awhile.

I’m jerked out of sleep at 2:45 a.m.  I think there is someone in our room!!!  I grab Brian’s chest hairs and yank!  (He was already awake… now he’s really awake…)  Nobody’s in our room, but Homeless Dude is standing under our bedroom window in our backyard, rambling and yelling obscenities at the top of his lungs.  I call the police again – Henry is pacing upstairs (he’s on the third floor)….  After I hang up the phone, I talk to Henry, who’s crouched and looking at me through the stair railing.

I guess the point of all this is that besides the obvious problem of these poor, disenfranchised people having nowhere to go; Henry was terrified – and we were here with him to reassure him. He’s leaving to live on his own in two weeks (granted he’s in a dorm room)…  But he was totally freaked out – how is he going to deal with the weird, wacky shit that happens from day to day on his own?  All I can think of is that scene in “Big”, where Tom Hanks spends his first night alone in New York City in some seedy hotel room, and he starts to cry and wants his Mom…..