Monday, December 13, 2010

Stayin' Near my Baby

Busy, Busy, Busy.
That's what Bokonists whisper whenever we think about how complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is.  After a busy, busy, busy week, this Bokonist has come to the conclusion that it's totally too soon for me to retire to Texas. The driving force behind this conclusion is, in a word, Velvet.

Fortunately, my mother understands perfectly, so there's been no argufying in the family.  I'm quite sure my friends in Austin will not be surprised either and hope that anyone who was making bets made some money.

There are other factors, of course.  Most notably, there is the economic and political situation in this county which suggests that this is no time to be moving half-way across the country with no job and no insurance to a state where the dumb ass teabagging governor has run up a $18 billion deficit from cutting taxes and making deals for miscellaneous business interests such as BP.  I'm merely speculating on BP, but having grown up near the oil patch, I know as well as anyone what happens when Bubba is in charge.  It's worse when Boudreaux and Bubba get together.  Take a look at what happened after Katrina in Louisiana for an example of what happens when Boudreax and Bubba are running things, and then take another look at the Gulf.

Anyway, I'm not going to Texas right now.  I got in a rush to head back after last Christmas vacation because I was feeling my own mortality and looking at all my friends smoking and drinking and carrying on.  I panicked and thought we were all going to get sick and die soon.  Especially my Dad - not that he's been smoking, drinking and carrying on.  He's just getting Old Timers'.  Over the last few months, I have come to realize that although everybody dies some day, most likely folks in my happy little world will be just fine for a few more years.  Ergo:  there's no need to make a mad dash for the Hill Country.

Sooner or later, I need to get down there - but not right this minute.  For the moment, I need to remain close enough geographically to Velvet to intervene instantaneously if necessary.  It was necessary yesterday for me to head out into the pouring rain to put money into his bank account.  Parents across the nation may well have been doing the same thing.  I doubt they were braving a torrential downpour because their child needed to pay someone who had fronted him weed because that individual was trying to get out of town and wanted his money.  Somebody somewhere would object to my actions, but as I was splashing through the puddles on my way to Broadway, I was glad to be a push-over.  I have been called a Republican Nightmare as a parent before.

Velvet is pretty sure his grades are going to suck balls again this semester.  I'm thinking that it's not going to be as bad as all that but he's not getting off academic probation.  School would probably go better for him if he gave the impression of being a serious student just so his professors wouldn't automatically assume he's an irresponsible, dope smoking, dip shit.  He may be an irresponsible, dope smoking, dip shit, but that doesn't change the fact that Executive Functioning Disorder, which is part of the ADHD package, manifests in ways that make a kid look hopelessly irresponsible.

The trouble is that it's very rare to find anyone outside of the Education Department on any college faculty who understands how deficits in Executive Functioning can fuck you up.  For example, most kids can walk into the book store and walk out with their books.  It may be aggravating and intense.  The kid may bitch, moan and/or cry - but s/he still walks out with the books.  It could take somebody with executive functioning issues a couple of weeks to figure out the whole book thing.  They get totally overwhelmed and go home to feel like retards because they can't manage the same simple tasks as everyone else.

I hope to high hell Velvet doesn't get suspended, but I've already got a staff of Special Educators ready to advocate on his behalf.  I feel like we've been able to determine the types of adaptations necessary for him to succeed in this academic environment. Frankly, I believe it's in Tree Hugger's best interest to facilitate Velvet's success because there are plenty of smart, creative, passionate learners who simply need interactive, collaborative teaching.  Parents always pay extra for that option.

Good teachers across all age levels are well aware that there are all kinds of minds and are dedicated to reaching the kids in their classes.  So far at college, it seems like only about half of the folks teaching freshman classes are remotely concerned with whether their students understand them or not, and among that portion, even fewer know how to work with SPED kids.  Sadly, a lot of professors seem to resent the fact that SPEDs have made it into college at all, as if the only valid way of learning is reading and listening to some professor lecturing along to a power point - and the only possible way to demonstrate adequate mastery of the subject is by writing papers and taking multiple choice and short answer tests.

Certainly college students should be able to read and write fluently, but there are other ways to demonstrate that you have absorbed the material.  Making videos, for example.  Discussion groups are often more effective than lectures.  Some teachers use a variety of methods.  Either way, though, Velvet can't seem to sort out what material will show up on the test. 

I'm thinking he may need to live at home and go to community college for a semester or two until he becomes more familiar with how to manage academics at the college level.  Hookah House may not be the best environment.  His brothers took good care of him when he got sick, but Velvet may need a bit more supervision.  Or maybe he needs to take three classes instead of four. I'm beginning to think that the troubles kids have at college is a systemic issue that results from overemphasizing standardized tests at every grade level.  But I'm not getting started on standardized testing, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and the all volunteer military right now. 

I still have to get the apartment ready to sell in January, and this weekend, I'm going up to Tree Hugger to get Velvet for the holidays.  We're going to Houston for a few days so we can really participate in the war on Christmas.  Here on the Upper West Side where most folks are Jewish, we've been saying Happy Holidays for years and years.  It's the polite thing to do.

I've already got bouquets of roses and balsam branches all over the apartment, and I can find Robert Earl Keen singing "Merry Christmas from the Family," all year long.  This year, though, I'm feeling more like Nina Simone.  Since I'll be moving to Harlem soon, I need to broaden my musical horizons.

If I'm moving to Harlem for a couple of years, there's plenty of time for my 32 year old daughter, Gigi the Pole Dancing Quadroon, to teach me how to pole dance. Gigi is a dance therapist this an MS in Psychology. Her thesis is on Dance and Women's Sexuality, but I'm more interested in releasing the pain in my right shoulder. Since my spirit guide first presented itself as a Beaver, sexuality might be somehow involved in the shoulder pain but I've got a feeling it has more to do with Aleister Crowley.


intelliwench said...

I've resigned myself to staying in Bubbaville as long as intellikid's still in college, too. A wise person reminded me that although our "kids" are young adults, they still need to know there's a home base to return to, even as they feel more and more at home in their new surroundings.

At least this parenting gig has job security :-)

Mr. Charleston said...

My wife's Executive Disordered pot smoking kid is 26 years old and, after seven years, is still a junior in college and totally supported by his parents and, indirectly, by me.

What he needs is a solid kick in the ass, not understanding. It's called tough love. A concept totally foreign to his parents. Sometimes the best education isn't found in the classroom.

Sorry to sound so tough, but it's a tough world and the sooner he learns to deal with it the better.

PENolan said...

Mr. C - My mother has already suggested turning him over to the draft board . . .
Given that we don't have that kind of money, the child will have to get a job. Not everyone belongs in college. He can learn a trade, or he can go to NOLS, spend the winter in the Wyoming Rockies and start working on his Wilderness First Responder certification.

There are always options. I remain optimistic however. If he were fully a retard, I might feel differently, but he has As and Bs in other classes.

Vancouver Voyeur said...

I have my banking on-line and my account linked to my son's so I can transfer electronically anytime, anywhere, without braving the elements. I also can't move away from my babies. It's not that they need me, just that if they ever did and I wasn't here to be needed, my maternal guilt would know no end. Glad you'll be sticking around.

PENolan said...

V.V. I tried to have the accounts linked - but since Buzz Kill set up the original account for Velvet and has authorization over the account, he has to sign some paper at the branch to approve my becoming an additional signer. I asked Buzz Kill to take care of this paperwork a couple of times a couple of months ago, but he forgot since he was busy being a mini-triathlete.

But it's always good when I can blame something on Buzz Kill. I was so happy yesterday, I was glad of that, too.

Intelli - no kidding. My own parents can testify . . .

Lisa said...

I really like how you're staying flexible about things. Any other way would drive both you and Velvet crazy, I suspect.

PENolan said...

Flexibility is key - in pole dancing too ;) I'm happy to say that although Buzz Kill is concerned, he's not spazzing out. It's been about a year since he declared corporate bankruptcy, so maybe he's finally coming out the other side of all that stress.

We can hope.

Jennifer said...

I so get it. And Lisa's right - flexible is great - you're in a situation now where you can do whatever you want, and whatever feels right.

You've heard it all before - I only moved cities, four hours apart within the same province. But also without a job or insurance of any kind. Unemployment insurance was out because I left my job voluntarily. The only plan I had was to go to Wales for a month and then come back and get a job.

But it sure wasn't easy - and it killed me financially. And no economy issues. You're sounding level-headed to me, and like a really good mom.

Don't even get me started on learning needs/styles... But Velvet's issues alone are reason for you to stay and ensure his learning needs are met.

PENolan said...

Jennifer - I would LOVE to heaer you get started on learning styles. \

It's funny how I've come to rely on the support of a group of passionate, articulate, brilliant people whom I've never met in real life.

Thanks, y'all

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