Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Good Enough Mother & Child

I like Velvet better now that he's not getting suspended for his grades.
His GPA for the semester is .25 higher than the lowest possible GPA anyone could possibly have attained in order to remain enrolled. His grades are: Good Enough. Given that I have always endeavored to be a Good Enough Mother, as defined by Donald Winnicott in the early 1950's, I can ask no more of Velvet than to be a Good Enough Student.

He will be under disciplinary probation for the rest of his Tree Hugging days. He got finger printed and mug shot today, but they don't give you a copy for the baby book. He got his Letter Jacket for the Hookahs. It's a fur lined pearl grey hoodie. If South Park Kenny got pimped out, he might wear this hoodie. I don't think it's nice enough for Butters when he was a pimp, but it does create a stylin' ensemble with his head phones and sun glasses. His ideas on personal style may have been influenced by this video, which was his very most favorite when he was six or seven:

The good news is that Velvet never, ever wears Bling. Not even at Halloween.

I'm off to Tree Hugger again this morning to get the last of Velvet's stuff. Even though he's allowed to go to school in the fall as far as Tree Hugger is concerned, for the next few weeks, I have decided to remain unconvinced that anyone should pay his rent while he's fucking off at school. Maybe he should go into Americorps. Or to NOLS for a Semester in the Rockies since he enjoyed their summer program in the Wind River Wilderness.

As it happens, the National Press Photographers have moved into the Big Beautiful Private School to which Tree Hugger is attached this week because they are sponsoring some intensive course for photojournalists. My little brother, Smelt, is one of the Award Winning professionals who is coaching the participants. Velvet and I will be hanging with Smelt when he's not being professional.

Velvet has always l-0-v-e-d his Uncle Smelt, and I'm particularly glad he happens to be in town to provide Velvet with an example of how to build a career by following your bliss. Not that Smelt doesn't have the same worries about job security these days as everyone else - or that Smelt has never struggled with Corporate Overlords. But he still provides a role model who has become a productive member of society without finishing one successful semester at college. Of course, Smelt had a talent and a passion which could be developed into a career path. And as far as everyone in the family knows, Smelt has managed to avoid arrest.

I'm looking forward to seeing my brother. His freshman year at college was so dismal that he was not allowed to return. For his second Freshman year he lived with me in Austin, Texas where he was supposed to be attending community college. If I recall correctly, by October he had ditched school to take a job at the local newspaper and shortly thereafter, he started winning awards and developing a professional reputation.

My brother is color blind, and when he was a little kid, I would make him tell me what color the M&Ms were before he could have any. We loved that game, and I wasn't a bit evil because my brother got the colors right 75% of the time. Velvet is also color blind, but I never tortured him with M&Ms. I'm pretty sure that Velvet winds up getting things 100% his way within 48 hours of any conflict on account of my natural indulgence.

When Velvet was little, I read Penelope Leach's Your Baby & Child and learned that you're not spoiling your child if you are natural inclined to grant requests. It's when they nag you into submission that you're spoiling them. If you give in to the whining and/0r theatrics, you're doomed for the rest of your life.

I'm not sure if it was in this book, or if I read it somewhere else, but one of the bits of information that became a foundation of the environment I created in our home for Velvet, and now in my preschool classroom, is that nobody ever told Margaret Mead, "No."

She was not allowed to create havoc where ever she went. The adults around her made sure the environment was safe and secure so that she could explore to her heart's content. As she grew more capable, her environment expanded to include more and more of Reality and The Wider World.

Hopefully, that's has also been Velvet's experience. He may not have made good grades, but he managed his freshman year with panache. No matter what your perspective, we cannot deny that Velvet is a character in his own right. Until he got to Tree Hugger, Velvet had never felt like a worthless failure before - and I consider that an accomplishment in parenting since most of us felt like worthless pieces of shit by the time we were in Kindergarten.

So I'm heading off across the Catskills this morning, singing along to the stereo and enjoying the river that winds around the highway all through Delaware county, happy for a moment that we seem to be Good Enough for just about anything.


Beach Bum said...

Catskills? Have fun and take pictures.

As far as my son is concerned my goal is to get the boy through high school. I'll worry about college when we get there.

My son is taking a similar path of my wife's brother who blew everything off until the last minute in high school and flunked out of college several times.

His uncle finally got his four year degree after seven years. His GPA was only a couple of hundredths over the minimum.

Jennifer said...

I remember two friends of mine, both of whom had some real disruptive, pain in the ass little kids at the time, telling me I was spoiling my baby because I picked her up when she cried. I still maintain that made her (and her sister) confident in who they were and where they stood with me.

Later they never really gave me much grief - but it was kind of like the Mead bringing up - if you know how to act around others, to respect them, you get the freedom to explore who you are. I never really had a lot of reason to say no. And now they're both grown up, they're doing just fine. As I'm sure will Velvet.

I'll think of you on that gorgeous, gorgeous drive. Gosh I love the Catskills.

corticoWhat said...

Child raising is such a hoot. There are no perfect answers to some of life's questions. We must be devout pragmatists. If it works, it was right.

Catskills? Is that like the Ozarks?

Anonymous said...

Hi, you have a great weekend, for this the sun is out, its warm. Yea. This weekend, is weekend before local Farmers Markets start, so need to make sure every thing is ready to go. Have to break down and get out the old singer, whip up some new table cloths. Already purchased material, just need to make time to get it done.
Well I'd say stop and say hello, but know it will end up being, crazy. So have a great weekend enjoy your brother. I do not get to see my sister enough (VV). There is more than one, but she and myself are the closest.
Pat from NY

Vancouver Voyeur said...

Have you heard Sarah McLachlan's "Good Enough?" It probably doesn't fit the situation, I haven't heard it in a while, but the title popped in my head while reading your post. You have some of the best one-liners I read on any blog: "He got finger printed and mug shot today, but they don't give you a copy for the baby book." Thanks for the laugh. My Jr. is off to the beach with a group of about 8-10 fellow seniors, staying in a condo for the weekend. One father is present to assure no death, dismemberment, or jail time. We'll see. :-)

PENolan said...

Yes, Cortico, the Catskills are much like the Ozarks, although I believe the Ozarks cover more territory, and there's fly fishing.

Beach, The only pictures we got were of Hookah House. I'll be sharing them directly.

Jennifer, High Five to you and your girls.

Pat, hope the market goes well for you and your farmer.

V.V. - condo at the beach? Sounds like fun for him. How's the kitchen coming along?

Vancouver Voyeur said...

Kitchen coming along slowly. Friend had a baby, bed broke and other things interfered with this weekend's project list. Plan on working on it during the week. Pictures coming soon.

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