Monday, January 25, 2010
I've Got to Admit, It's Getting Better
Over the three-and-a-half years I've been (intermittently) spewing my thoughts into blog-space, I've had a few things to say about our trials with a few of our kids, most especially 3M and 1F, who had us right at the end of ourselves a few years ago (and it has been, mercifully, getting to be not so few as we've gone along). I've also mentioned that, in recent months, things with both of them have been going better. ------------------------- 1F has been back in school for a few (three or four?) years now, taking one class each semester, with a long-range goal of a degree in Speech Pathology (she's good at languages, and that's a field where she actually stands a chance of getting paid to do 'language stuff'; it doesn't hurt that a couple of colleges relatively close at hand, including my alma mater, have good programs in Speech Path., either). She's done well enough, and her grades have been good enough that, in the Fall semester just past, she bumped her load up to two classes (while still working somewhere between half- and full-time, so it's not as though she's whiling her days away chasing butterflies in the park), and still got good grades, so things are looking up on the educational front for 1F, and I couldn't be prouder of her. Also, this past fall, she took on the job of Music Director for our parish. Which isn't quite so high-falutin as it might sound. She's been playing piano/organ, and cantoring for Mass since she was in high school; the old Music Director is in her 70s now (although, if I may be so bold, she is a very youthful and energetic 70-something), and there has been something of a push to 'get the young folks involved' in our parish, and so they asked 1F to take the job, which mostly entails picking music for Mass, and making sure all the masses are covered, in terms of having organists and cantors scheduled. It's mostly a pretty basic-level administrative job, but it does have some more far-reaching tone-setting aspects. The old director was very fond (I'm tempted to say inordinately fond, but she is a good friend) of the 60s-vintage 'folk tunes' which have
plagued been a more-or-less regular feature of American masses (at least in some parishes) since Vatican II, and I've had to stifle an urge to puke in my mouth periodically, when we would sing 'Let There Be Peace On Earth' or one of its smarmy cousins (and, since I am also a sometime cantor, I've had to stand at the microphone and smile while doing so) One of the songs we used to sing with some regularity included the lyric, "Come dance in the forest, come play in the field"; I once leaned over and asked Jen if we weren't supposed to be naked while singing it. Anyway, the good news is, 1F agreed with me; and now she's in charge of picking the worship music. So I might just be done with 'Let There Be Peace On Earth' (I hasten to add that I have nothing against world peace itself; it's just the song that I can't stand).
Last fall, 3M broke up with his girlfriend, with whom he'd been sharing living arrangements for the previous year-or-so. Around the same time, the crappy economy left its mark on his life, and he lost the job he'd had for a couple years. So, he came to us, and asked if he could move back home for a while. Which we agreed to, with a certain degree of trepidation - once a young adult has been living on his own for a while (and, to be bluntly candid, 3M was more-or-less 'living on his own', even before he moved out in the first place), it isn't always a simple matter for him to move back in with Mom and Dad, and re-adjust to the daily rhythms of family life, and young children, etc.
But, as the old saying goes, "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." And 3M had done quite a bit of growing-up since the last time he lived under our roof. It's actually been beneficial to Jen and me, in some very practical ways, to have him back home; he's been something of a live-in handyman for us, and in the months he's been living with us, our list of Little Nagging Projects has been beaten down significantly. Over the Christmas break, he even helped me install a new toilet (maybe the third or fourth time I've executed that particular bit of home-repair; but it was much nicer, I promise you, to have my eldest son to help with some of the 'grunt work', and also to enjoy the satisfaction he derived from learning a new 'man skill').
His job search has mostly been frustrating - the economy is still pretty crappy - but as I write this, he is closing in on a job cooking for one of the local sports bars, which would suit him very nicely. I'd solicit your prayers on his behalf; the difference between 'no money' and 'not very much money' is huge. And taking him at his word, he views his stay with us as being at least as 'temporary' as we do; a job would be one of the key parameters of that temporary-ness.
But, for my money, one of the biggest deals of 3M's young life happened last week.
He went back to school.
Recalling that this is the young man who, the capacity of his intellect notwithstanding, only graduated from high school at the last minute, and 'through the back door'. Even as he was in the process of washing out of high school (or nearly so), he would still tell me about his very definite plans to go to college. And I knew that, at the time, he was mostly just trying to say what he knew I wanted to hear. I would often respond by saying, "You understand, don't you, that college is just more of what you didn't like in high school? Only you have to pay for it?" But I never had any doubt that, if he ever came to a place where he wanted to be in school, for the sake of his own life, and his own goals, that he would do it, and probably do it very well, once he got acclimated to actually doing the 'school thing', for the first time since he was in fifth grade.
And he's been getting involved with the 'college group' in our Christian community, mending most all of the relationships that had been damaged during his years 'in the wilderness'. Which has also been very gratifying to see.
He showed us his first math test the other day - he got 104/100 (extra credit, dontchaknow) - and it was all I could do to keep from tearing up. Maybe - just maybe - the kids are gonna be alright. . .