A Happy Belated Mother's Day to all of you who are either mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers, aunts, godmothers, fathers pulling double-duty, babysitters, to anyone at all who loves and nurtures a child...be it for a lifetime or simply for a few hours at a time, it matters none...yesterday was all about you guys - and I hope someone took the time to let you know how appreciated you are! The Son and Daughter got me a beautiful bouquet of flowers as well as a lovely card - the card is on my mantle and the flowers are in my bathroom with the door closed, for that's the only place they are safe from the extremely disobedient cat that likes to feast upon the flower buds.
Interesting in the sense I stepped foot on a college campus with a backpack slung over my shoulder, but not because I'm the one taking classes. No, that ship has long since sailed. I was NEVER a good student. The whole school setting was ALWAYS a challenge for me. I did complete three years of college before I dropped out when I discovered I was pregnant with my son...and never looked back. Lately though, I've been thinking about finishing up my Associates'. Why not? I can do it. I'm only a semester or two shy of the degree.
But this isn't really about me. It is, but it isn't. I'll explain.
My son, the soon-to-be high school graduate, had his college orientation today. We were, of course, accompanied by the wasband, since this, being a monumental moment in our boy's life, warranted the presence of both of the Son's parents. Especially since, for the majority of the duration of the orientation, the Son would be traveling seperately with student cluster groups while the parents would be required to sit through six (yes, count them - SIX) separate topic lectures on financial aid, student safety on campus, student financial institutions within the college, managing course loads, a small lecture on what we, as parents, would now expect out of an 'adjusting' college student and finally, a briefing on commuting. Yes, you may now YAWN, I know I did plenty of that.
This is where it gets stupid - because upon arrival at the orientation event at 7:30 in the morning, we were presented with a folder outlining the topics of each lecture, and MOST of what was discussed in each 'meeting' was simply read to us by whatever unfortunate professor had been assigned the task. I mean, did they think we forgot how to read?
One of the main reasons the wasband was convinced to take the day off is because me + lecture halls = disaster. In large crowds, theater/auditorium surroundings, I generally miss about fifty percent of what's being said, especially during the end portion of each briefing when hands would shoot up and we'd have a Q & A. The wasband agreed to join me and be an extra set of ears and during each lecture, he would mumble, "they're just reading from the outline on page whatever-it-was," and he'd be answering work-related emails on his phone. And so, I silently sat in my seat, and I allowed myself to 'get fuzzy' during those parts. I think I even closed my eyes a couple of times - to say the whole thing was boring is certainly the understatement of the year. It's relieving though, I was not the only one - many of the other parents were also sleeping. When I get blurry, as I sometimes put it...you know what I mean? You stare at something for long enough, your vision begins to blur as it turns into a non-blinking daydream. It happens A LOT with me. I talked about when it happens while I DRIVE, sometimes - I know, it's not safe at all, but it can't be helped.
However....during these fuzz-outs...
I did find myself forced to remember...especially during the moments when the Son and his peers would join the group of parents for certain parts of the orientation event. I watched him walk into the auditorium in the beginning of the day for the introduction. I watched him smile (he's so handsome!) when he saw some people he knew from his current school. I watched him talk to other incoming freshmen, saw him shake a few hands. I watched with pride as he requested information on campus employment during the information fair walk-through.
I also saw things in him that reminded me of myself, when I was seventeen years old. I noticed the clueless face; it appeared at moments when he THOUGHT no one was looking. But, you know...Mom sees everything.
It looked so much like my face, guys.
I saw him shift nervously when he accepted his folder, when he was given his sticky name tag that he'd be wearing for the day. I saw the tiny little cringe when they talked about joining one of the dozens of clubs the University had to offer.
You see, my son is by no means a social butterfly (do they refer to males as butterflies?) and while our reasons are certainly different, it's something I can relate to. My being 'different' was always something that prevented me from initiating conversation, it caused me to shy away, to simply observe from afar. If someone approached me, I was always friendly. I still am. For the most part, though, it's VERY difficult for me to take the initiative to approach someone else and introduce myself. The Son, although he's very well liked, also prefers to keep to himself - he likes being friendly with people from a distance. He spends hours talking to 'invisible' friends by way of his XBOX headset and he prides himself in his ability to have over twenty thousand Instagram followers - but I rarely see him conversing with 'real life' friends. His idea of a normal day is to wake up, go to school, eat, play XBOX and sleep - rinse and repeat. I, too, felt more comfortable being by myself. I still do.
The Son's hearing, if you go by the medical assessment, is diagnosed as being normal. However, he's got a condition that plagues MOST teenagers these days - it is called 'selective hearing.' The Daughter has it, too - she was blessed with this condition at birth while his, I feel has been gradual.
For the most part, I ignored the wasband and his phone and focused mainly on the boy I raised. I watched his expressions, his movements. He's terrified...no more or less than any of his peers, though. Eventually, my ex's presence faded - I ALMOST forgot that he was even there.
Today, while watching my son, I was brought back to MY freshman year. This was not a good year for me, as many of you know by now what happened to me in 1996 - and it is safe to say that this experience I had when I was encouraged to 'be social' ended up forever tarnishing my remaining college days as well as the rest of my life. I'd been told, "Hey, listen...you're in college, now. It's time to get to know people, have fun, join clubs, socialize." And it might have been Oompa's voice saying these things since I didn't begin to find Will Ferrell annoying until much later. And eventually, my mother's voice morphed into my own - I believed all of it and started echoing these things to myself. I tried to be what others who were less socially inept recommended for me to be, and I ended up putting myself in danger. Yes, I do know that what happened wasn't my fault - there is no misplacement of blame here, it falls upon the miserable excuse of a man who assaulted me. I just feel that my way of thinking had been effectively manipulated when I truly wasn't unhappy with the way things were in the first place. So WHAT if I was quiet and shy? Who cares? I had my innocence. I was simply doing things at my own pace. Until things happened and my pace went out the window along with any self-caring I had left.
And now, 21 years later, here is this know-it-all professor saying that the way my boy likes to live, the way he's comfortable and content, (eat, sleep, play video games, with the addition of his new college class attendance in between eating and sleeping) is described as the 'highway' way, and he'll find himself bored if he doesn't integrate some University club and social activities into his (already) busy schedule.
What do you DO with that? My mind at this point was racing.
I wanted to scream at this idiot...let him be who he wants to be, damn it. If he wants to get up, go to class, and come right back home, then that's his God-given right - no one has any reason to tell him any differently. If he joins a club, it's going to be because he has a genuine interest in it, not because he's going to be coerced into it for the sake of building up his social resume. If he prefers quality over quantity when it comes to making friends, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. If he wants to be socially awkward, then that's what he'll be.
He's my boy and I love him, dearly just the way he is. And I'm going to make sure he knows that. I'll encourage him to be the best person he can be - the choices that lead him onto the path of adulthood will be his own and his own alone. If he's happy, I'm happy.
That should TRULY be enough, shouldn't it?
OMG. What time is it?! My eyes are closing on me. I'll be back later this week.
Hope y'all are doing well.
All my best,