Ugh…Life just got ahead of me and I never came back to this blog. So sad. Wonder if one day I’ll have time to really fill in all the details. Well, I’ll have to settle for an update right now.
So…here we go…
In 2014 my son graduated from high school. It was such an amazing day for me and when I went over to give him a hug after the ceremony I completely lost it and started crying because ALL THOSE YEARS of hard work and struggle had paid off. Let me back up.
Anthony spent a lot of years lonely. He wasn’t very social and spent countless hours in his room reading his books. He never went out. Never went to a friend’s house except the one friend he made in middle school, but who then went off to a different high school. It never seemed to matter to him much. And then social media happened. When he got to high school he became active on Facebook. Or at least he followed a bunch of his school mates and would check out what they were up to. He would see them hanging out and going to parties. He never did any of those things. So we started working on that. I felt awful that he was 15 and every time he wanted to go to the movies he would ask me to accompany him. A 15-year-old should be going to the movies with his friends…not his mom. So I told him to ask the kids he sat with at lunch if they’d like to go. We actually role played because he was so uncomfortable doing it. Every day he’d come home from school and I’d ask if he had brought it up to them and he always said no. I was getting so discouraged but I pressed on.
Then one day he came home and told me that he needed a Halloween costume because he was going to a party. A PARTY??!! WHAT PARTY?!! He said he heard some kids talking about a Halloween party and the kid throwing it happened to sit in front of him in one of his classes. So he just asked the kid if he could attend. Just like that…he was off to a party. So I made him a costume (Scarecrow from Batman…my straight jacket was epic by the way) and off he went. Said he had a great time and talked to a few kids.
He had befriended this one guy who was really nice. They went to the mall together once which was another thing that was foreign to him but that he always wanted to do. He didn’t remain close to that specific friend but through him he found other friends. He became part of a group. MY SON…part of a group of close friends. FRIGGIN’ baffling for me. I was SO HAPPY!! He started going to out with them regularly and attending some more parties. He was so happy.
He also got his driver’s license. It took him an extra year because he really had no interest in driving. Said he didn’t feel responsible or focused enough to be on the road. But when he turned 17 and didn’t have a permit, I got concerned. I sat him down and made him study for the written test. Then I quizzed him. I said “Ok, sounds like you know it…let’s go.” He was like “WHAT???”. Yes, I drove him to DMV and made him take the test then and there while it was fresh in his mind and he passed with flying colors. Then it was time to learn to drive. Oh my God…I’ll save that for another post. Seriously…I think it’s how I started getting gray hair and I may have traumatized him just a tad. But he drives all over now so mission accomplished. Another huge milestone down in the books.
Senior year came around and I was so upset that he had decided he would not go to prom. I was beside myself. I just kept thinking…that’s one of those experiences you’ll NEVER have the chance to redo. EVER! You miss it and it will be gone forever. That’s it. No do-over. We went back and forth over it. Repeatedly. He had this friend (a GORGEOUS and unbelievably talented sophomore named Alexis) so I told him he should ask her. He lit up and said “Wow…that’s a good idea!”. What? Just like that?? That’s all it took was for me to come up with someone he could ask to prom??? So he asked her and she accepted. OH MY GOODNESS I was in utter HEAVEN that day!!!!!!!!! I made sure their outfits matched, that she had a beautiful corsage, I rented them a beautiful car. And of course I made them come to the studio and take photos. Am I allowed to say they were the best dressed? Well I’m going to say it anyway. Her dress had an anchor with a skull on it, he had an anchor pin and anchor socks. She rocked her signature red lipstick and he rocked Chuck Taylors. They were modern, with a not to vintage and definitely whimsy. What’s not to love? Damn…I want a redo on my own prom.
Our school has this thing called a promenade where all the parents and family members come watch the kids be announced and they basically walk a runway and everyone cheers and takes photos. It’s awesome. My parents were NOT about to miss this so they came down to watch. It was just amazing to see him all smiles with this gorgeous young lady and wonderful friend on his arm. Seriously I get teary eyed. Just thinking about it. It’s just a right of passage for some parents but for me it was something I never thought I’d get to see. My boy going to prom. Sounds so simple doesn’t it? Yet for us and many like us, it was a breakthrough.
Needless to say he had the time of his life and I, once again, was proved to be right. And isn’t that what’s really important here? Ok, I’m joking. Kinda.
Graduation Day was so epic. We threw a party so all our family could celebrate his accomplishment. I was beaming. It has been such an emotional day and such a proud one for so many reasons. Here’s the boy whom I was told may never be able to something as simple as WRITE!! And here he was graduating from high school, with friends, not feeling lonely or isolated, and getting ready to go off to college. Here he is with his friend Rob who is still one of his great friends today. I wonder if these kids know what their friendship means to him.
Ok so even before prom, we checked out colleges. He was an A-B student but was convinced that he should go to the nearby junior college because he was afraid of a big university. I said hell no. Well, at first the low price was appealing of course but I was concerned that he was once again just afraid to venture out. So we check out two big schools and my boy ended up at Rutgers University…and dorming…with a complete stranger. Know what sold him?? His favorite store is Barnes and Noble. Rutgers’ book store happens to be largest Barnes and Noble in all of North America. And this lucky son-of-a-gun ended up with a dorm right down the street. He was sold. This was the bravest thing he had ever done. I was a nervous wreck but I braced myself. We face timed so I could see his face and make sure he was ok. His first night he said his roommate walked in with a crowd of people, a bottle of fireball and a bag of weed. I said “welcome to college”.
So he’s going into his junior year. Has found a roommate he likes and is still very close with his high school friends including the beautiful Alexis. He used to be SO BAD at keeping in touch with people and really nurturing those relationships. Now he makes every effort to see his high school friends whenever he’s home. And one of them is at university with him. He still isn’t a social butterfly and doesn’t have a TON of friends at college. He tried the party scene and it just wasn’t for him which is fine. But he has some very close friends at home who he talks to regularly.
The first few semesters were rocky academically. But I kept pushing him telling him that he could do better. And he has. The last two semesters he’s managed a 3.2 gpa. He is still completely addicted to books and comic books so he’s an English major with a minor in History. Lately he’s taken to reading about the history of England’s royal families. Because, ya know…that’s what he does for fun. LOL. Maybe he’ll write the next epic series like Game Of Thrones. OMG…that beach house I’ve always wanted may still become a reality. No seriously…I think he would make an exceptional novelist and then he could live anywhere in the world while he writes. Yes I put these ideas in his head because WHY SHOULDN’T I? Why shouldn’t he aspire to reach them? I truly believe that he can do anything. And I hope that belief has made a difference in his life. And I hope he has the same belief in himself.
College hasn’t been without its struggles. I feel like I still do a lot for him. Like for instance…last year he forgot to apply for housing. Seriously. So I had to write to the school on his behalf and beg for housing…which he got…A DAY BEFORE HE HAD TO MOVE IN!! So shove everything into bags at the last minute and haul him back to school. Thank God it’s only an hour away. I gave him a brow beating he will not soon forget and he DID make sure to apply for housing as soon as the application came out this year. Silver lining is that he ended up on a campus that was really better suited for him and he loves it. But I was SEETHING!
He also went through a spell where he wasn’t sure he wanted to go back. WHAT??? Over my dead body!! He was feeling lonely because he had a group of friends first semester who he fell out with 2nd semester. His roommate also moved out and this kid my son referred to as “Furniture Ken” because he NEVER LEFT THE ROOM moved in. He was a bit miserable. But we had a long talk and in the end…I said…”You’re going back! You can’t base a decision on one semester!” And he went back, had a great year and is very happy. It helps that this year he has his car on campus so he could leave whenever he needed a breather and would go visit his family or just walk around the mall away from campus.
Food has also been a challenge. He doesn’t eat a huge variety of foods and prefers crunchy things so he loves chicken fingers and french fries. And being that we’re not there to monitor him, he over indulges in fast food and soda and he gained 30 pounds his first semester. But he’s 20 now so all I can do is feed him better when he’s home and try to make him understand why he needs to make healthier choices. But I know it’s hard for him and the fact that he now loves guacamole, lobster, fried calamari and a decent list of foods is a far cry from the boy who once ONLY ate bread and white rice. He seriously lived on it. So hopefully he’ll figure it out one day and be healthy and happy. It’s all I’ve ever wanted for him.
We have some plans. When he graduates in a couple of years we plan to travel Europe. He’s always wanted to see London so I thought we’d go to London, France and maybe Spain. It will be my graduation gift to him. I’d love for him to study abroad but I think he’s afraid of getting homesick. So fear still keeps him from doing some things. But with a little encouragement, he’ll try them. He still needs a push now and then but he’s getting old enough to know what’s best for himself.
Ok, big breath…that was a LOT to write in one sitting. I really wish I had kept this up but I at least wanted to get the big points of the last few years down because THIS was the goal. THIS is what I’ve always pushed him towards. THIS is what I’ve always wanted for him. And now that we’re here…on to new goals. To help him have the life of his dreams in any way I can. But I won’t do everything for him because my main goal for him is to be self-sufficient. But I will push him, advise him and support him every step of the way.
This is far from the end of his story and I look forward to adding more in future posts and filling in all the past details little by little as best as I can. I welcome any questions or comments. You can post here or you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to anyone who’s taken the time to read this. I know this blog is buried way deep in the net but maybe someone will find it and it will give them hope, make them laugh, or just know that they’re not alone.