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12:20 p.m. - 2012-05-07
Ain't No Cure For The Summertime Blues

What a pleasure it is to go to meetings at Wolf's school these days. This morning it was his annual IEP review and to sit at a table with a bunch of teachers and special ed folk and hear nothing but good things about Wolf was heavenly. Everyone agrees he's done a spectacular job of reintegrating back into mainstream school. Even a lot of regular kids have trouble transitioning into high school so for Wolf to make the jump from the very small and highly structured alternative jr high and do so well in the wild and wooly public high school is wonderful. I am very proud of him.

Honestly? I never truly thought this day would come. My kid and I have had a really rocky time of it in school and out. But he's doing so, so well! And for the nonce I will take a bit of a rest on my laurels and know true that I've done a damn good job as his mom.

It's difficult sometimes listening to Mick's end of it, his frustration with Wolf is immense. A lot of it is never having had any kids of his own so even the regular wear and tear of parenting is tough on him. His expectations of what a young teenager should be like are often wildly unrealistic- thus the frustration. Mick truly thinks Wolf should react and behave like an extremely tidy and anal 53 year old man i.e.: like Mick. His unwillingness to look backward and try to put his 14 year old eyes back on and see the world as he did when he was Wolf's age is irksome. It's unfair. Mick was once a 14 year old pain in the ass too, you know, and I'm quite certain that when Mick was a freshman he wasn't any paragon of common sense and cooperation. Not that Wolf is rebellious, not at all. He's just vague and as dim-witted as any guy his age is. Testosterone poisoning is brutal at Wolf's age. Throw in the Aspie parts of it and it gets messy at times.

The knocking heads between my son and my husband is heavy on my mind these days. Mick has decided to take the summer off. He's worked summer school for 14 years straight and is wanting to take a break this year. Hey, I can dig that. We can swing it financially if we're careful. Summer school is a drag. The hours are rotten, the building is always too warm and there's always some kind of noisy construction/installation going on, summer school students suck- if they could behave themselves they wouldn't BE in summer school, and the pay is lousy. But lousy pay was always better than no pay, or at least we needed it to keep current because our overhead and debt load was too high. This year we're up to speed and the scant ducats Mick would bring home working summer school will be more than offset by next year's larger tax return, so. Mick gets this summer off. It's worth giving up the cleaning ladies and doing a hella lot more cooking instead of our eating out a couple times a week so my guy can have a break.

What's worrying me is this is also Wolf's first free summer. No summer session for him anymore, the high school doesn't run on the trimester program as his previous schools did. Last summer Wolf was in a work/study dealie that had him out of the house three days a week. This year? This year's summer is an entirely blank slate. Oy.

Mick's promised to take Wolf with him to the folks' a couple times a week to use the pool and give me some privacy, but I know that'll last until mid-July and then Mick will be sick of seeing his parents that often and Wolf will be pissing him off by forgetting to bring his bathing suit or sun hat one too many times. Or Wolf will move too slowly getting out of the house in the morning or not take the hint if Mick wants to make a quick exit from the folks and...GAH! Then I'll be stuck with the both of them all day, every day for the entire rest of the fricken summer.

I guarantee that by July 17th they'll be at each other's throats and completely up my ass.

In my top mind I can say it's only fair that both of my guys have a lovely relaxing summer off. Wolf's done his time with year-round schooling. He's been doing trimesters since he was 5 years old. He's earned the right to a summer of being a bum. Something almost all American kids get every year and Wolf never has. Next year he'll be 16 and I know I'll be insisting he scare up employment of some kind. So this summer is it, the one and only obligation and expectation free summer he'll ever have. Mick, too, has been busting his butt every summer since ever. When he was a cop he worked doubles all the time. The sheriff's department was perpetually understaffed. Then after he moved to the school he's either worked for the school doing maintenance or summer school security, and for many years he worked as a bouncer on weekend nights too. The man is completely entitled to a summer off. I love my guys and want them to rest and putz around and sleep in and just enjoy themselves.

In the gritty lower part of my mind where the stark honesty and self-interest live, I know this summer is going to be hellish. Mick cannot be still. Mick's idea of a relaxing leisure time activity is a 40 mile bicycle ride. On the weekends he's always pulling weeds, washing and waxing the cars, reorganizing his den, emptying the trash, and generally following his mother's dictate of 'work until you DIE or be damned for all eternity'. The man wouldn't know what to do with a good book and a shady hammock even if he were ordered to enjoy both at gunpoint. And Wolf is a normal teenager. He can sleep 17 hours a day. And play video games during his scant waking hours until it's time to sleep again. The child could happily live with a controller in one hand and a sandwich in the other forever. Wolf feels zero obligation to be 'useful'. Especially Mick's version of useful. Add to it that Wolf simply doesn't know how to do a lot of stuff yet and is slow to learn new skills and never, ever, ever manages to do things to Mick's exacting standards anyhow and tends to opt out whenever he can to avoid the lecture and snarling criticism Mick is going to dish out no matter how hard Wolf tries...um, yeah.

If I seem harsh on my guy it's only because I know him so well and understand the fierce need to be perfect that drives him. If Mick kept his perfectionism to himself and allowed others to do as they would, nevermind how HE would do it, it'd be all fine. Mick could be as busy as his twitchy guilty self wants to be and nobody would get in his way. Wolf and I could drift around doing our electronic stuff and I could sink into the creative space without having to keep an ear anxiously cocked for trouble while Mick rabbits around from chore to chore to chore and it'd all be good. But while Mick cuts ME a huge break and treats me as a precious object whose sole purpose is to sit around being beautiful, unfortunately my kid doesn't qualify for the same largesse and the pressure on Wolf to do work and even invent ways to be busy is going to be enormous. Mick can't help himself; his mother did a real number on him. Plus there's Mick's unarticulated feeling that real men work. Real men provide and protect. And what does a good father teach his son if not how to be a man? We all know Wolf's actual father is a worthless piece of crap and the obligation to want more for Wolf than to be a useless jerk like his old man weighs heavily on Mick. Mick wants Wolf to have everything that comes with competency and reliability, he wants Wolf to have all the open doors a good worker and a responsible person can avail himself to. So a Wolf sprawled out in front of the TV and a game console with a littery orbit of junk food wrappers and discarded clothing around him is a red flag to a bull. Mick can't see a normal teenager doing normal teenager things, Mick sees Mike Jr. He sees Wolf becoming the same kind of inept, irresponsible, slobbish noogie that the ex is. And it makes him crazy.

It seems the three of us have opposing needs and agendas. Mick wants a summer 'off' but his 'off' will be a never-ending round of chores and busywork, his guilty conscience will allow no less. Wolf wants a summer 'off' but has no idea how boring and lonely a summer with only his old parents and grandparents around is going to be. Plus the nudging by his well-meaning but overanxious step-father is going to drive him to tears. And I will be here as always, the eternal mender of fences, minder of feelings and self-esteem, buffer between the Child and the Man, budget-meister, chef, activities director, and perpetual monkey-in-the-middle, I'll be here slowly but surely going out of my goddamn mind.

At least today's meeting was an upper!


Dreading the summer for more than its usual heat, humidity and bugs, ~LA

8 Wanna talk about it!

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