Michael is 18. The past 6 months of his life have meant huge changes for him, and he has overall coped pretty well. However, there is a lot he still has to learn.
As I have sought to understand and empathize with him, it's been possible for me to reach back through the mists of memory and recall my 18 year old self. I finished high school and started college less than a month later, because I wanted to go to summer school and get ahead of the pack with class credits. I was actually 17 when I started college.
My first year, I went to a small private college in East Tennessee. I was incredibly restless that year. It was a very religious school and I didn't fit in, because I was raised in a fairly laid-back Episcopalian family. We weren't marched to church in lockstep and bible study wasn't mandatory, at home. I rebelled as much as I could at that school, without screwing up my grades. I read novels or did homework during mandatory chapel services. I snuck in the occasional beer to my dorm room. Dancing was actually forbidden, so I took the opportunity to play inappropriate music [there was nothing too inappropriate back then, though, nothing like today's music] and dance in my room. There were mostly real religious kids there, or kids who were the opposite, whose parents sent them there to straighten up. Guess which group I liked to hang with?!
The real restlessness set in the next year, when I started at UGA. Suddenly there were lots more choices, more freedom, but also I was dumped into a world that was utterly foreign, and for months I just couldn't find any real friends.
Being 18 is tough. You aren't a kid - you think. You aren't really an adult, emotionally. You hit that number and suddenly you're expected to grow up, overnight.
One of the things Michael loves to do is play Airsoft. That's a BB gun brand, BTW.
He also likes to babysit because he plays with the kids, happily.
I remember playing badminton, cards, frisbee, and other games a lot, around age 18-19. Sports and games are the acceptable way to "play" if you're really too old [you think].
Michael is at a place where he won't read or play board games, and he's not big on sitting in front of the TV. So he gets restless easily.
The lifeguarding was boring, he said.
Mother has counseled him a lot. She is a very smart person and has had to develop strategies to deal with boredom throughout her long life. I've had to do the same. Smart people need to read, IMHO. It keeps us sane.
Last night Michael started a job delivering food for a local restaurant. He didn't get home until 10:45. I didn't realize he would be out so late. I was thinking he would be home and in bed by about 10 or at the latest, 11. He has 8:00 classes every day during the week.
He was excited about the new job. "It's not boring!" he said. When he's not making deliveries, he "helps out in the back." I'm not sure what that means but it sounded like some sort of manual labor. That's OK.
I asked him if anything went wrong. He grinned. "I accidently smushed the first pizza I delivered. I apologized to the lady and she was nice about it."
"I also had to deliver pizza to a big apartment complex and I forgot where I had parked my car." I asked him how he coped with that. "I just walked all over until I found it!"
He made $25 in tips, which was exciting. The job pays minimum wage but the tips should be good.
My big concern is that he needs at least 7.5 hours of sleep a night. When he gets far less, like last night, he won't eat breakfast the next day. Then he really doesn't function well - has a terrible attitude. He doesn't like to eat when he's not well-rested. That is the source of 90% of the fights we've ever had, me worried about him not eating or sleeping enough.
When I was 17 I worked several different jobs. The most interesting one was performing in a local dinner theater production of Hello Dolly. I didn't get home until about 11:00 and I had to be in class the next morning at 8:30. When I got home I had to unwind. I usually played the piano for a while. It was always hard to just turn off my brain and sleep, and I didn't know about Melatonin back then.
Mother never had to fuss at me about eating, though..LOL
But when I went to school I was in high school. I had 3 classes, in the morning, then I could nap in the afternoon if necessary. They were all easy classes, too. My high school didn't force seniors to take classes all day if they had most of their credits, thank goodness.
Michael had been babysitting all day yesterday, from 7:30-5. So he was already tired when he went to work at 5:30.
So the challenge now is to help him work out a strategy to get enough sleep and to eat well enough. If his schoolwork suffers because of not enough sleep I am going to have to come down on him about work NOT being the priority.
School is SO important.
He still needs mommy, a bit.
Sometimes I fret over my part-time work situation and the resultant money anxiety. Then I realize, God has a plan. Mike may be 18 and in college and driving, but he needs me. I make him turkey sandwiches, and hot breakfasts. I do his laundry. I counsel him.
Even with only him at home I am still learning how to define being a mom. I have to try and persuade him with reason, because he responds best to that approach. If I just consequenced him every time he stayed out late or failed to eat out of sheer laziness, he would rebel and the situation would get worse. So I am trying to be patient.
Mother is my rock and MY counselor. I sometimes marvel at the fact we have a somewhat unconventional family, and yet we are all inter-dependent on one another. We work well as a unit.
I imagine Mother never envisioned herself still parenting daily at age 80. She parents Michael and me, and does an excellent job. I wonder sometimes if that's why she has outlived so many of her friends. She is very needed.
Lola is our comic relief. She has decided she likes bananas. She knocked 2 off the kitchen counter yesterday but she couldn't figure out how to get the banana out of the peel. I found bananas on the family room floor looking like they had been in a fight.
She also has decided she wants to be a "lap dog." That's 55 lbs. of lap dog, y'all. I try to scratch her tummy to keep her off my lap - easier to breathe that way...