Thursday, March 15, 2018

Slice #15- Another Missing Chapter in the Parenting Book.

I definitely need to buy a new parenting book. The one I have is missing waaaay too many chapters.

Take the one I need right now, for instance. The one about how to help your adult, or kind of adult children figure out what they want to do with their lives. Or how to help them rescue themselves when they get stuck in a whirlpool that is going nowhere.

Son #2 came back from college about three years ago. He had tried two different junior colleges and just didn't like it. Not very long after that, he started working a series of jobs-- usually food related. He's made doughnuts, delivered calzones, and worked the counter and in the kitchen at a sandwich shop. The pattern is pretty much always the same. He works for six or eight weeks, gets bored, and quits. He  hangs out for another month or so, then when I threaten that he either has to find a new job or a new place to live, he finds another dead end job.

This time has been one of the worst. He hasn't worked since before Christmas. Supposedly, he was going to take three months to get himself into shape, and then join the Air Force. He has already taken a test that says he is qualified for some really high level group that sounds kind of like the Green Berets. But somehow, he hasn't done that.

And then in January, he decided he was going to go back to school. I helped him fill out the application online and gave him money to park at orientation. He came home saying he wasn't going to go to school. I am still not sure what happened with that one.

Since then, he's pretty much done nothing. Well, actually not nothing in his book, but nothing in mine. As far as I can tell, he plays endless video games, finds complicated recipes and texts me lists of ingredients, bakes ginormous (and very delicious) million calorie chocolate chip cookies, and watches lots of You Tube and Netflix.

About two weeks ago, I had had it. I told him he had to have a job by March 24th, period.

And so he borrowed money from his brother, got a haircut, and today he went and had an interview.

At a smoothie shop.

He said it went well. It would be full time. He would work from 10-5 making smoothies for $10.50 an hour. He will find out if he got it this weekend. He probably did. He's smart and articulate and usually makes a good first impression.

And I'm not sure how I feel. For starters, it feels a lot like the past five or ten jobs he's had. And I wonder how long he will last (even though I have told him that he cannot quit another job and live in my house). And wonder if I should tell him, before he even starts, that in about a week he is going to get really tired of driving across town to work at a smoothie shop.

And I wonder how to help him understand that the CEO of most companies started out washing dishes or cleaning toilets. And that the world doesn't owe him anything. And that it doesn't matter if he is smarter than the boss, or if he thinks the company should be better run-- he is not the boss and he needs to keep his opinions to himself and do what people tell him to do.

And I wonder how I can help him develop a little stick-to-it-ive-ness.

And how I can get this 22-year-old no longer a child to start think about a career, rather than simply a series of dumb little high school-ish jobs.

And how I can maybe, if he wants to, help him get back into school because he is plenty smart and really needs to do something with the brain he was given.

Basically, I'm pretty much at an impasse in the parenting department.

And I could really use that missing chapter.


Anonymous said...

I'm not a parent myself, but every parent I know is also looking for that parenting book. Sounds like you are doing just fine!

testblog said...

Hi ya - a very heartfelt post. Kind of funny my post tonight was a reflection on all the jobs I had before I graduated college - inspired by the closing of Toys R Us. Normally when someone shares what you shared tonight, I try to ask if you just wanted an ear or if you just wanted advice?

Perhaps foolishly I will offer some advice.
1 - Don't worry he is only twenty two. I did not figure out my calling until 29. Some of the most interesting people I know are still trying to figure it out
2 - Get him out of your house! Surely he can go live in some sort of group house situation. You have made his life too comfortable. If he is surrounded by others who are moving forward in life, perhaps he might get the hint. He should find a place, so he can walk or bike to the smoothie place. Let him fall on his face. He will live. You are making life too easy for him. By working a bunch of dead end jobs, I was motivated to finish college. It doesn't matter what degree he gets, as long as he has some slight passion for it.
3 - the only thing you should offer to pay for him is possibly therapy

I wish you well

Unknown said...

Love the idea that the parenting book is missing a few chapters. Mine is on the other end...just a toddler, but I often feel like the I could use a manual to tell me if I am doing the right thing or if I am screwing up this little human!

Ramona said...

Oh, Carol, I wish you had that missing chapter too. There are no easy answers to your dilemma, but your boys are lucky to have you (even if they don't voice that now).

Cathy said...

Oh, Carol, when you write that book can I have a copy? No one prepares us to parent twenty-somethings. Currently, we have two of our twenty-somethings back at home. Many a day I shake my head at the conversations I have with them. I just keep hoping they'll all figure it out --- and soon! I keep telling myself that ten years from now I'll be glad i helped them to get this good start.

I couldn't help but note what appears to be an interest in culinary work by your son. I wish someone in this house would learn some cooking skills. ;o)

My husband and I both teach. We graduated high school, went to college, and we knew we would teach. Many of my friends in other professions remind me that it really doesn't work like that for most of the world. Many of them have stories of a million little jobs before they found their life's work. Here's hoping we can continue to navigate the world of twenty-somethings.

Unknown said...

I wish there was an easy answer or I had magic advice for you. Everyone takes a different path in life and as a parent it's frustrating when you've provided your child with the tools to be successful and the they take a traditional path. Stay tough and he'll figure it out eventually.

Elisabeth Ellington said...

If you find that missing chapter, you be sure to pass it along to me, ok? I know I am going to need it too. I try to stay in the present moment parenting because it's too hard otherwise, but I do wonder and worry about what my son's 20s will be like. Mine were kind of muddly; probably everyone has muddly 20s. But I think it's different for our boys with the extra challenges that come from having lived through so much trauma. The advice that might work for other kids who haven't gone through what our kids have gone through doesn't work for them and isn't even appropriate for them.