Monday, September 12, 2011

Friday, September 2nd

For the last two years, when it's been time to get Velvet situated for school, the phrase "Into the Woods," sprang to mind.  The associations have consistently been pleasant, suggesting the stuff of fairy tale, which inevitably led to Sondheim since it seems something is always reminding me of a song.

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.


corticoWhat said...

Ahhhhh, the joys of parenthood. Well said and well done.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

Well, mom's have the hardest job in the world. Sounds like you've got some kind of back up... BUZZ KILL? *what a great name for an ex* All hopes and good vibes to Velvet. :-)

dissed said...

You did well. Very, very well.

It's hard as hell to grow up, isn't it?

PENolan said...

Like Neil Young says, dissed:
You can't be 20 on Sugar Mountain . . .

Thanks, Gwen. It's amazing how much better Buzz Kill and I get along now that he doesn't hardly owe me any money ;)

cortico - glad to see you!

Once Known as The Badger said...

This was exhausting! And it's not even 4:20 p.m. yet. Whoosh.

WV = pyxol, as in "Dirty images staining your monitor? Clean them up with one swipe with Pyxol! (Image of smiling woman with an apron and high heels here...)

PENolan said...

How did you know there were fingerprints on my monitor? Outstanding!

Gail said...

HI TRISH - I love your insights and process. You really must write that book about parenting.
Love Gail

Vancouver Voyeur said...

What is with that power struggle anyway? The minute I tell Jr. he has to do something, that will guaranteed be the one thing he will not do, even if it's in his best interest. Jr. was forced to either move out or register for classes as part of growing up. Now we've been trying to convince him to get his books for classes, two weeks into school. We're offering to pay for the books, but because we said it was necessary, he's not doing it. I'm ready to boot him out on his kiester.

Susan Tiner said...

I am glad the two of you stood your parental ground. It's up to Velvet now.

Makropoulos said...

This kind of makes me glad I never had kids. Kind of. As a college professor, well, I think I need to talk to that teacher who doesn't take attendance! S/he needs to take a stance as strong as you and B.K. did, or else s/he will have one hell of a semester. . . .

PENolan said...

Mak - she's a PhD student who is replacing the regular professor for the semester.

Susan, I have a good feeling about it. I was optimistic about Abilene Steve, though, and that never worked out. My friend Max the Psychic Life Coach pulled some cards about that relationship and told me that Abilene Steve was just a little TOO crazy and it's just as well I wasn't involved in his personal meltdown. Steve sends an email every now and then, always mentioning that he's drinking too much. So it looks like Max was right, and that's exactly how things SHOULD have worked out.

Gail, I started my creative writing class tonight and declared that I would be working on Menopausal Stoners Guide to Parenting, and said it was basically an asshole prevention program.

V.V. - You may need to get some Valium ;)

okjimm said...

Ha! never had those kind of issues....guess I got lucky. Wonder Girl graduates this December... and we are encouraging her to go to Grad school. But things are different hear...she rather does what she wants, and pays for it too.

Cali said...

All these problems with supposedly "adult" children and college, are all problems that I have faced with my son. His first semester I think he passed one class, dropped one or two classes and failed the other one. Last semester he was working and going to school and he got one A and one B. If six units is all he can handle at a time, so be it. Just do the damn work. (I wonder how many times I've said that to The Kid since he started kindergarten? I can't give you a number, but if I had a dollar for every time I said "Just DO THE WORK," I think I'd give Oprah Winfrey a run for the title of richest American woman.

I gotta give the kid with no books some understanding, though. With the high cost of books and computer application programs that are required these days I don't blame them for not dropping by the bookstore to drop $300 to $400 on a single book. When I was in college that was my book and supply total for any given semester! My son's book, program and equipment costs this semester alone was well over a thousand dollars! And he's taking three classes! Worse, instructors don't take costs into consideration when they choose books, at all! Some of them even REQUIRE books that are out of print and cannot be found at ANY price!

It's good that you and Buzz Kill presented a united front. I never had that luxury, even though I did everything right. Got married to a man with a good job, had The Kid a year and a half later, and discovered that he was a serial philanderer eight months after that.

So, even though I never intended to be one, I became a single parent, literally from the beginning. (He was in jail for driving on a suspended license when our son was born, as well as the next four months.) Not a fun time, believe me. Had it not been for my son, I would never have survived it-- quite literally. He refused to come out so I had a C-section and the surgeon found a malignant tumor in my apendix, of all places. Had that not happened, I would be dead for sure! It makes it kinda hard to keep a good mad on at a kid that literally saved your life.

PENolan said...

okijimm - She pays for it herself? Well done, Dad.

Cali- I love you, and that's all I have to say ;)

Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Did I mention that "Into The Woods" is both my favorite Sondheim, and my favorite take on the whole genre?

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