This one has to do with providing guidance for your not-quite-adult children.
Son #2 is very, very bright. Since I adopted him, when he was in second grade, I have heard the same thing, "K is very, very smart, but he doesn't apply himself. He just doesn't work very hard."
I've heard the same thing when it came to sports. "K is very talented (enough so to be the starting quarterback of the varsity football team his freshman year) but he doesn't have a very good work ethic."
We've explored a lot of different interests- football, basketball, track, music, technology. And he starts off strong, but his interests often fade.
I've tried everything I know-- encouragement, rewards, punishment, mentors, therapy, tough love, natural consequences. And pretty much the results have been the same. It works for a little while, but then, we are right back where we started.
In August, said son decided that he wanted to attend a small college in Alabama. The football coach had called him and wanted him to play quarterback. I had many reservations. First, there was the whole thing about attending school in the south. I was not sure my son really understood how different the attitudes and beliefs about race actually were. The town was small and the school was smaller. I didn't think my son would like that either. One thing I have learned with my boys, though, is that they rarely listen to my opinions. And so off he went.
Shortly before Thanksgiving, K announced that he hated school/life in this small town and was not going back. He didn't want to play football anymore. He wanted to attend a local college. He thought he might like to talk to a coach about playing basketball. I told him, as I have always told my boys, that he could go to school, or trade school, if he chose to do that. That he could play basketball, or football, or no sport, whatever made him happy. If he didn't want to go to school, that was fine too, but he needed to get a job and support himself.
At this point, K has been home about six weeks and is still in limbo. As far as I know, he has not applied for any schools in this area. He says he has applied for jobs, but he doesn't have one yet. He knows he wants to make a lot of money, and has identified several possible careers, e.g. anesthesiologist or lawyer. The problem is that all of these require lots of school, which he hates.
He has had several "interesting" ideas about what he might like to do (all with the help of his favorite personal financier):
- Several years ago, we were opening a bank account, the banker, a native of French Guinea, said that in his country, K, because of his name, would have been viewed as royalty and treated as a king. People would have bowed to him and awarded him special privileges. My son has never forgotten this meeting. He would like to move to Africa, where he could be treated like a king, (and not have to do his own dishes).
- If moving to Africa is not a possibility, my son thinks we should trade his car and his brother's car (both of which actually belong to me) and get motorcycles. He and his brother would have the time of his life on a fabulous cross country adventure. (It's currently -6 with horrible road conditions in Denver, but that is also not a consideration).
- A third option is trade school. My son thinks that become a gunsmith would be a perfect occupation. Never mind that he knows very little about guns. Or that I absolutely hate guns (yes, I know that they do have some positive uses, but in Denver, I see guns used far more often in heartbreakingly negative ways).
And so I sit here, two days after Christmas, wondering how in the world I can best support this man child, who seems to have totally lost his way.
Parenting is definitely the hardest job I have ever done. And the manual is missing way too many chapters.