An Occasional Mom “Win”…….Makes the Questionable Decisions Fade Away

Being a mom is not an easy job.  From the beginning it can be daunting…..I read EVERY  “What to Expect” book there was.  I still had no clue what to do when somehow nursing didn’t come easy, (both Joe Cool and The Genius) or why my baby screamed in the swing that was supposed to soothe him (The Genius), or what to do when my baby was so colicky and cried and cried from 7-9 pm EVERY night for his first 5 weeks of life (Joe Cool).

what to expect books

You can read the books, and follow their advice, and talk to friends, and try their ideas, but at the end of the day, there is NO parenting manual that covers every scenario, and to be honest, parenting is really just flying by the seat of your pants, and praying and hoping it works.

I have always done what felt right, and hoped it would work out in the end, and these boys would turn out to be “okay”.  My deepest desire has always been for my children (birth and step) to be happy, healthy, responsible adults, who contribute to society and care about the world in which they live, and the people in their lives.  The oldest two have moved out, and seem to be accomplishing that, (for the most part), although like most young adults they still need Mom “guidance” and they call Karol regularly to talk things over with her.

So, now that the younger two are 17 and 15 and I look back over the years, I can see that there have been plenty of mom “fails” or less than stellar moments.  Like the time I left The Genius at church.  (yes I really did that..I will tell that story another day).

Or the time I was called in to the Principal’s office when Joe Cool was in third grade (three times in the same month) because he 1) helped a kid eat his pudding by pushing the spoon which scratched the kid’s throat, 2) playing leap frog when a kid wasn’t expecting it (knocking the kid down),  3) pushing a kid who was calling him a “vanilla cupcake”, (another story for another day).

Or the time that The Genius decided to say a “bad” word (damn) quite loudly during a quiet moment at church.

Or the time I “forgot” a kid.

Or the time the security officer at Sea World found me to let me know he “could” arrest my son (Joe Cool) because he spit on an employee. (They were on the Manta ride at Sea World, which is a ride where you “lay down”, and Brandon bet Joe Cool, he couldn’t spit and hit something on the ground……the employee walked by just at the wrong moment……)

manta

How could they pass an opportunity to spit on the ground from the ride???

 

Yes those moments are moments I shake my head, and wonder what I did wrong….

And when you are about to question every decision you ever made, and just resign yourself to the fact that you are a horrible parent things like this happen:

I walked into our local Starbucks on Saturday am on my way to a swim meet in which The Genius was competing.  This is the Starbucks where Joe Cool works.

As I was waiting for my drinks, the lead Barista walked over to me, (most of them know I am Joe Cool’s mom), and said, “Hi, I just wanted to let you know that Joe Cool is a very nice kid.  You did a great job with him.  He is polite, and works hard, and always does what he is told.  I really enjoy working with him.  I know most parents don’t hear about their kids doing good things, and I thought you would like to know that he is a great kid.”

WOW!!!  I was bowled over and felt something well up inside me that felt awesome, and warm, and a bit bubbly.  I think it was pride and joy that my kid had “turned out” okay.

That really made my day…….. and then an even more amazing thing happened.

I had to back to Starbucks that evening because Joe Cool was working, and I needed to swap vehicles with him.  I was standing and waiting for him to get his keys, and one of the adults who work there walked over to me and said, “By the way, I just wanted you to know that I really like Joe Cool.  He is a good worker, and is always funny.  He plays sometimes, but he is young and that is to be expected, but you should know that he is a really good kid, and you did a great job raising him.”

To be honest, at that point I wondered if Starbucks was doing a “say something nice about employees” thing. That somehow the management had said , “If a person’s relative walks in, especially if it is their mom, make sure you say nice things about their kid”, or something like that.  Or maybe I was being “Punk’d” and any minute the camera crew would walk out from the back….  No really, I thought this…..

because “punk’d”

Of course as soon as I thought that I realized it was as ludicrous as you probably thought when you just read it, but seriously???  To hear great things about your kid TWICE in the same day???

It is a bit over whelming…..

Joe Cool....June 2014
Joe Cool….June 2014

(If you doubt that, you might want to re-read the parts about the principals office and what we refer to as “The Sea World Incident.”)

So my weekend was made by these two random people.  Who said such nice things about my kid, and thereby about me and my parenting skills.

That Mom “Win” made the fails, and questionable decisions fade away, and was a moment to revel in….

And then the next day he left all of my windows and moon roof of my car open overnight when we had monsoon like rains, and I had ponds on the floorboards of my car, and the seats were soaked through……

Oh well…..at least I had one day to bask in my mom glory……

 

My 14 year old is enrolled in college….ohhhh myyyyyyy

I have two biological children and two step children.  I have always had nicknames for them on this blog because they were under 18.  Well, that was when I started.  Now the oldest (L), is almost 22, The Hunter is 19, Joe Cool is 17 and The Genius is 14 (almost 15).  So, with their permission I will begin using the real names of the oldest two.  L is Katarina and The Hunter is Brandon. However, since the other two are not 18 yet, they will keep their blog nicknames for now.

I recently wrote about Joe Cool,   but today I want to talk about The Genius.

To be completely honest he is NOT a genius, but I started calling him that because he is a smart kid who gets A’s and B’s in school, always does his schoolwork without needing reminding (which ALWAYS had to be done with the other three), and is a bit of a nerd. (Loves Minecraft, Dr. Who, Sims, etc).  So The Genius just seemed appropriate.

When he was in 8th grade we attended a program put on by the Suffolk Public Schools to talk about the towns International Baccalaureate (IB) program, Dual Enrollment, and Governor’s school.  These are Academic programs that require more work than a “regular” diploma and can benefit kids, particularly when it comes to college.  It never occurred to me that The Genius would NOT go to college, so off we went to learn.

He did not want to attend the IB program because it is not held at the high school where kids in our neighborhood go, but at a school much further away.  He would have to ride the bus for almost an hour each way, and most of his friends would be at the high school where we are zoned.  So that was a big NO from him.  Because kids have so little control in their lives about stuff, school is one area I have always tried to go with their wishes, so the IB program was out.

Then we looked at Dual Enrollment, (DE).  There are two DE programs in Suffolk.  One gives them a certificate, and one gives them a General Studies Associate Degree upon graduation from high school.  So he opted for the Associates Degree program.

DE1

Within the first 9 weeks of his 9th grade year I talked to the counselor I was told was in charge of the program, Ms. R, and she explained to me the kids test in April or May and The Genius should listen for an announcement so he could get the information for testing.

Ummmmm, he is 14. He is NOT going to pay attention.  So I tried to keep up with it.  I called her again after the first of the year to “check in ” and make sure he was one “the list” so he wouldn’t be missed. She assured me he was.

Time goes by.  All of a sudden at the end of April I realize, hmmmm, I haven’t heard anything about this.  I ask him, and he of course doesn’t know.  So, I email Ms. R.  She emails me back and says the College Assessment test is THAT week, and I need to get her a form TOMORROW (I called her on a Monday), so he can take the test on Thursday.  Really??  What happened to The Genius being on a list and the parents being informed??  That should have been my first clue as to how this was going to go.

Now, I want to stop here and say that this particular counselor is my FAVORITE one at the high school.  When we were having struggles with the oldest child, this lady was RIGHT there, to ensure she graduated.  She cares about the kids, and I love her, so she got a pass, even though I was annoyed by it.

So, long story a bit shorter, the kid goes and takes his test.  We are told, “we will let you know the next step and how he did in a couple of weeks.”

A few weeks goes by. I do ask him about it,  but his counselor Ms. P, hasn’t called him in to talk about it, so I wait.

A few more weeks go by, I know college classes are about to start summer semester, so I ask him again.  No news yet.  Life gets crazy and I forget.

The last week of school I email Ms. R, who says, “well yes, he did very well, didn’t Ms. P talk to him?”  Um, no, she didn’t.  “Oops” is the response I get.

Not quite this but......
Not quite this but……

So my stress induced chicken with my head cut off mode begins.  I immediately call the school. Ms P isn’t in, so I speak to Ms. C, who is in charge of Dual Enrollment apparently.  She is new, so I have not met her, but she tells me everything I have to do, and I and The Genius get busy.

Of course I speak to Ms. C on a Friday, so we have to wait until Monday to get busy.  And I am working a full day on Monday….GREAT!

I have to call the college and make an appointment to go in and see one of two counselors. I leave him messages on Friday (apparently he isn’t in on Friday…go figure).

Monday am, he calls me and asks if I can come in THAT day, as he will be on vacation for the next week, and classes start NEXT WEEK!  Ummm, no, actually, I am at work today.  Is there someone else we can see this week?  Sure he says, cal Dr. S. “Good luck”, he says.  “Thanks”, I say

I call Dr. S.  She isn’t in on Monday……..great……

I do reach Ms. P on Monday on the telephone.  I express my concern and displeasure that we were never notified and are now behind the curve.  Ms P says, “I am so sorry, we were busy the last month of the school year.”  Wow, really???  “What can we do Ms. Rood to get this fixed for you?”

So I tell her we intend to apply for the scholarship that is available for DE (which I found out about on my own, thank you), and I need TWO letters of recommendation.  One from a counselor and one from a teacher.  She assures me she will get them done that day and I can pick them up first thing Tuesday morning.

Tuesday morning at 8 am I am at the school picking up the letters, and a formal transcript.  Check, one thing done.

At 10 am I finally hear back from Dr. S, who makes us an appointment to see her on Thursday (yesterday) at 10 am. Check, two things done.

In the meantime I have The Genius start writing his 500 word essay on why DE is a good idea for him.  How it will help him in life, etc….

Thursday we show up at the college at 9:50 for our appointment, and we are called in to see Dr. S at 11:00.  YAY!!  I love waiting an hour in an over air conditioned lobby.  Thank goodness for free college WiFi!!

We see Dr. S. who proceeds to let us know that one of the classes The Genius is supposed to take is over half way completed (of course the high school was supposed to contact us in early May to enroll him on time), however, the other class is online, but it is full.  (you have got to be kidding me).

However, she kindly just goes ahead and puts him in the class, and seems to genuinely care about my kid, so for that I am grateful, and thank her profusely!

So we walk over to get the book he needs, but the book store is closed on Thursday……of course it is.

So after all of this the kid is in the class. But my journey is not yet complete.  I have another form to take back to the high school, I have to get his attendance record while I am there.  Then today I have to go to Barnes and Nobel and try to get the book he needs for class, and we need to get his scholarship paperwork (which is too late for this semester of course) mailed.  There is no Pell Grant or other financial help available to high school students, so it looks like we are footing the entire bill for this semester……sigh…….

If you are still reading, thank you for your perseverance.  I feel like I have had to have lots of perseverance throughout this process as well.

However, the difference is that while you are almost finished, I still have much to do.

But at least my kid is enrolled, and on his way to earning a College Degree while in High School.  There is that at least.

de3

When did my child grow up??!!

I was blessed with two amazing boys!  I am the mom who loves her children fiercely, but will also kick their butts if they need it.  I have a different relationship with each of my kids.

My oldest (Joe Cool) is a bit of a cold fish.  He doesn’t outwardly show signs of any type of emotion and is usually a “whatever” kind of guy.  I usually know when something is wrong and can almost always pry it out of him.  He is moody, and seems to lack compassion.  This is of course the persona he displays to the world, however, inside he is full of emotion.  Why he doesn’t show it more, I don’t know.  He keeps everything close to the vest.  He has inherited this trait from his father, who is the same way.  He likes to play PS3, and guitar.  He is an average student (although if he wasn’t so lazy about school work he would have A’s and B’s all the time), and doesn’t like sports much.  He is not one to show me he loves me, although he will give me a hug before he goes to bed at night.

He is cool as a cucumber, and I never really know if he truly cares about others, but every now and then he will throw me a bone.  Be compassionate.  Care about others.  Even if he doesn’t want anything. On Friday I had a cold, and he called me from work.  I was stuffy and not feeling well. He says, “Mom, you sound congested, are you okay?” I was shocked!  He asked me if I was okay!! Those are the times my heart melts and I fall in love with him all over again.  Or when he comes and sits next to me, and just sits.  Cause he wants to be near his mama.  Rare, but special.  I have learned not to make a fuss in those moments, but simply, quietly revel in the fact that I have apparently done something right along the way, and this kid loves me back!

I need to keep these memories and moments close at hand because they will not be as common soon.  Because somehow, when I wasn’t looking, my son grew up.  He is now 17, and will be a Senior in high school in the fall!!  How in the world did that happen?? This will probably be my last summer with him because next summer will be about getting ready for college, and hanging out with friends who will be going off to school.  Mom will be put on the “backest” burner there is.

When did this little boy get so big?

 

Joe Cool age 2
Joe Cool age 2

Before I knew it he was in grade school, and then middle school, and then high school.  Showing lots of school spirit!

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He has always had a goofy side, and this kid sure can make me laugh!

Scan 3

I can’t believe he is driving, and working, and going to graduate in a year.  The plan in community college for a couple of years and then transfer to a 4 year institution to finish his Physics (yes that is what he wants to be: a Physicist) degree.  I am hoping that he goes to Old Dominion University and stays at home, but only time will tell.

In just a few short years he will be graduating college, and heading out on his own.  I know that to the way things are supposed to be, and I am looking forward to watching him grow and see what his future holds, but for now, I am going to hold on to my boy and savor every moment I have with him, even if he looks like this when I am talking to him.  Because I know I have built enough of a foundation that he hears me.  Even if he doesn’t want to.

Joe Cool summer 2013
Joe Cool summer 2013