Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Holding Velvet in the Light

I was awake in the middle of the night because I'm worried about Velvet.
Not terribly worried, but he's at the moment in the semester where - based on his first two semesters - he got all fucked up. And not in a good way. If he does reasonably well on his biology test this afternoon, he will have cleared a hurdle and changed his pattern.

He's totally set up for success, but he is very anxious because so far in college, Math and Science have been a disaster. It's too bad, too, because in high school he was quite the budding scientist. I call that a teaching gap - but that's the way it is in college.

This time last year, he was apparently doing mushrooms and running around a golf course with his buddies from the dorm. This year, he is reportedly studying in the library with his big brother from the fraternity who also happens to be repeating Biology. They are both on Academic Probation and are supporting each other in their goal to improve their GPAs.

I got a call yesterday evening from his Executive Functioning Coach. She is in Syracuse this year to finish up her PhD in Inclusion Ed. She's been commuting to Big Beautiful Private for some years, and now that her own kids are situated, she's doing her own work. She's a reading specialist with 25 years as a classroom teacher for third graders (I think).

The good news is that she's determined his primary learning style is visual and that his organizational issues revolve around an inability to break big tasks into small, manageable tasks. She helped him develop a weekly planning chart that is basically an annotated To Do list, but it keeps him on task.

Velvet has never been able to understand that there can be many steps involved in accomplishing anything. For example, when he wanted to go to visit his brothers at Hookah House this summer, you'd have thought that Scotty was fixing to beam him to straight to the Hookah Living Room and he'd appear with an Xbox controller in his hand. He doesn't even think about looking at the bus schedule on the internet.

This tendency of Velvet's can certainly be partially blamed on me and Buzz Kill because we typically arranged all those details for Velvet. But part of the issue is Velvet's Executive Functioning. It would be easy to dismiss the whole thing as Teen Age Syndrome - but it's more than that. He honestly doesn't see sequences or gets fully overwhelmed by details, forgets stuff and is then embarrassed because he looks like such a dumb shit. Once that happens, the anxiety kicks in and he gets a brain freeze.

Last year, he was relying on friends to help him figure out where to get his books and supplies. That was a problem because the friends were just as discombobulated as he was. They were all on Academic Probation together by December. They were also all smoking weed and carrying on together too. This year he has his Coach and his Brothers at Hookah House.

Hopefully, the Brain Freeze will be prevented because if he chokes on this test, there's a good chance the anxiety spiral will kick in and he'll be doomed. If he gets a C, however, I predict that the success will propel him on to further success and the cocky little bastard we all know and love will be dancing up a storm at parties all over town over the weekend.

His coach called me yesterday evening to talk about all this stuff since Velvet has been under the weather lately and she was concerned his saggy health was anxiety based. It is such a blessing to have a Mom with a PhD (almost) in Inclusion Ed tuned in to your child when he's away at college and living on Bush's Baked Beans because he hasn't been able to get to the dining hall to take advantage of his damn $2800 meal plan. He went to the health center and the first thing they told him was to improve his diet PRONTO.

I'm fairly confident that he'll do absolutely fine on his test, but I still asked The Goddess to help him out. I'm not much for praying, actually. It's more like Holding Velvet in the Light - which is what the Quakers call it when they are all focusing on someone.


Vancouver Voyeur said...

I haven't a clue if my child is even going to class, much less studying or doing homework. He's all grown up now so he doesn't need to answer to me. I beg to differ. I'm not forking over any money for tuition next semester if he screws up this semester. But he knows better and I am to butt out and leave him to it. I really do hope he proves my misgivings wrong. I do know he's not staying in the dorm we paid for, he's crashing at a friend's who has "better accommodations." Really. *sigh* I'm envisioning a group of boys eating crap, staying up all night playing video games and over sleeping for class the next day. Oh well, he has to learn some time.

On a different note, I think our D.C. plans are in jeopardy. We totally forgot that we had family and their friends coming that weekend and we're not sure they'll all want to drive 3 hrs. to D.C., stay a few hrs. then drive back in time for M's band to play a gig that night. Of course we already booked a non-refundable hotel for Friday night before we remembered they were coming. We're going to play it by ear and hope we get to go. *double sigh*

Gail said...


Sending good energy to Velvet. I do understand your care and concern and how glad you are that the Inclusion Ed. lady is "in tune" twith your boy. Wow!! :-)

Happy Autumn Texas
Love you
peace and hope......

tnlib said...

Well, I've never thought that just because a kid reaches 18 and becomes emancipated, he turns into an adult with the ability to reason. That usually doesn't come until the late 20s or early 30s, the ages of my girls and one still acts and thinks like she's in her early 20s.

Limits are always good but it's important for them to know that you are there - but only at a safe distance. There's a great book - Leave Me Alone but Would You Take Me to the Mall First, or something like that. It's really for the teen years.

My mom used to say that all parents can do is to guide their children but they (parents) can't live their lives. It is true that experience is the best teacher - as long as mom is near by.

"Velvet has never been able to understand that there can be many steps involved in accomplishing anything."

Sounds like some Democrats I know.

Susan Tiner said...

So familiar. I can't say much but I am here to tell you from a few years further into the future that all will be well :-). Holding Velvet in the light is a good idea. I'll be thinking of him too.

Lisa said...

I just adore how you write about Velvet. He seems like such a great kid. I hope that all goes well with this test so the anxiety spiral can be avoided.

We've had our share of first semester meltdowns as Chloe adjusts from life as a dance major to a liberal arts major. Who knew all those dance classes were a buffer to the dreaded homework assigned in academic classes?

PENolan said...

V.V. I wish you were going to DC because there's a good chance that Menopausal Stoners will be involved in a Joint Venture with World Wide Hippies. Stay tuned . . . should be fun.

Gail, She almost convinces me that there really are guardian angels. Be well

tnlib, Excellent point re: impatient Dems. But it's hard to trust the process when the system is so fucked up

Susan, Thank you. Every single one of us could use a little extra light these days. And I'm sure it's going to work out fine.

Lisa, he is a great kid.
I have to say, though, that Nate's wagon video was priceless.

Jaliya said...

Holding your Velvet xoxo
and you, always.
Hold me too, 'K?

PENolan said...

You know it, girlfriend.
I'll light a couple of candles tonight while I'm at it.

intelliwench said...

It seems like Velvet has some good support systems in place this semester, so that's great. Let us know how he does on the test!

PENolan said...

Intelli, you can bet I'll spread the word as soon as I'm done ordering him a balloon bouquet. He said he thinks he did well, but the grades won't be in until next week.

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