This year, I was fixing to sigh with relief since it looked like Velvet was finally out of the woods when he cut class so he could spend as much time as possible at a three day electronic music festival on Randall's Island called Electric Zoo.
He had been planning to go to the concert with some of his brothers from Hookah House for over a month, and of course Cupcake was going too. It was a pricey festival, but things in New York City are often pricey and the three-day pass included transportation to and from midtown via ferry. I was always cool with the idea of him coming to the city after class on Friday. The trouble is that he skipped class. Skipping one class on a Friday when the instructor has already said that attendance will never be taken may not be a big deal - but when it's the first week of school for a student who is a Fifth Semester Freshman, it creates a bad impression. I was fucking pissed; Buzz Kill was fit to be tied, and Velvet hadn't realized he'd done anything stupid.
It all started on Friday, September 2nd.
Buzz Kill was on the rag because Velvet is supposed to see this guy at the beginning of every semester to get Letters of Accommodation for all his classes. Velvet had already emailed the guy, but hadn't followed up by calling to make an appointment. Although Buzz Kill isn't wrong about the importance of this process every semester, he has always put an irrational, anxiety based amount of emphasis on The Guy. Ergo: Velvet stalls just because he's in a pissing contest with his father. I called Velvet at about 2:30 to tell him to call the guy before he left Syracuse.
As it happened, Velvet was already in a car heading for the city.
Apparently Velvet woke up Friday morning with the best of intentions. Just before noon, though, but one of his brothers, who has graduated and is now an unemployed engineer, showed up with two lovely young women in the car and suggested Velvet come along. Another Hookah Brother, who is in the same Friday class as Velvet said he'd take notes for them both, and Velvet just jumped in the car. He might as well have been one of those lively dogs who think any open car door is an invitation to adventure.
I figured that if Velvet had had any clue that I'd be pissed he cut class, he simply would have let my call go to voice mail and shown up at home at 11:30 like I was expecting and I'd have never known the difference. I took some comfort in that realization, but I was still pissed that he was in a car flying down the highway, and reminded him that his keys were here in the kitchen - not in his pocket - which was a problem for him since I wasn't going to be home at 4:00. While he and I were on the phone, the physical therapist called to say he was running late, so I rescheduled the appointment and was able to be home to open the door for Velvet and his friends - who, incidentally, were all planning to stay at our place. Then I called Buzz Kill to discuss the idea of pulling Velvet out of school while we could still get our money back.
While I was waiting for Velvet & Co. to arrive, I realized a number of things. First of all, it was clear that Velvet is convinced that I believe everything he ever did was cute and that all I do is hang around the apartment with milk and cookies waiting for him to brighten my day. When I mentioned this observation to him late Saturday night, he had to admit that he took my full support and constant presence for granted. But, we agreed that mothers really do want our children to feel unconditionally loved and supported - so even though it's annoying sometimes to be taken for granted, it's sort of an occupational hazard. The second thing I noticed was that Velvet had no idea that there was a direct connection between his behavior and his bills getting paid. Most important to me, though, was the realization that for the last 10 years or so, Velvet has not made me and Buzz Kill mad at the same time.
Buzz Kill gets pissed at Velvet, and I tell Velvet not to worry about it because Buzz Kill is an Idiot. I get pissed at Velvet, and Buzz Kill tells him not to worry about it because I'm a Crazy Bitch. As a result, Velvet has been able to run between us and get away with all manner of shit. All that changed on Friday.
Buzz Kill came over at about 4:00 so that Velvet would be greeted with the sight of Parents United Against Velvet's Bullshit. The sight was effective. While the friends settled into the TV room, Buzz Kill and I informed Velvet that we would be having a chat before he went back to Syracuse. Velvet tried to raise a ruckus there and then, saying that he couldn't understand why we were freaking out since he'd been responsible for children's lives all summer at his day camp job. Certainly we could see that if he could be responsible for children's lives, he could be responsible for college. I told him it was tacky to have animated family meetings when guests were in the house particularly since they were all waiting to go to the concert. We agreed to have a breakfast meeting on Monday since the guests were leaving Sunday evening.
Velvet and I had a nice talk when he got home on Saturday night, and I brought up his college fund. It's my job to set up the college account as per the stipulation in the divorce decree. I explained to Velvet that although his father was totally prepared to contribute 75% of the total amount, also as per the stipulation, there was no way in fucking hell either one of us was putting in any money at all whatsoever if Velvet didn't perform up to expectations. Even if Velvet thinks his father's requests are unreasonable and stupid, he better do as his father asks if he wants the dang cash. Reality suddenly dawned on Velvet in that instant, and he understood that sometimes parents are like a boss at work. It doesn't matter what you think about the tasks assigned, if you want the money, you will perform said tasks with a smile.
Monday morning, we made a list of things that Velvet had to accomplish before close of business on Wednesday if he wanted to stay in school. As it happened, Buzz Kill was already scheduled to be in Syracuse for the weekend to train for a bike race. The race is next weekend, so Buzz Kill will be back there again to follow up. Velvet didn't challenge the idea at all - most likely because the idea of Buzz Kill in Spandex, in a huff and bitching while he packed up Velvet's stuff was such an alarming image that Velvet knew better than to argue.
He's certainly not out of the woods yet, but he should be able to find his way - despite the silver spoon hanging out of his mouth, tripping him up.