Hello, it’s me. I’ve been behind the scenes here on my blog, writing other people’s stories rather than my own. It happens sometimes. You make commitments that you want to keep and, in my case, those commitments have all been tied into posts that I offered to write for friends whose stories I want to share with you.
But what I really want to do now, is to tell you the most amazingly wonderful, fantastical story about what it’s been like to watch my son come into his own. This is going to be tricky because I promised him that I would never betray his trust or make his life public on my blog.
It is okay to share some things. Like his brand new car! It’s a Chevy Cruze – one of the last 2012 of its kind on the lot. He did a lot of research, test drove 3-4 different makes and models and finally decided on this one.
He’s got a birthday next month. He’ll be 27 years old. He’s kind-hearted, dependable, fiercely devoted to family and a small circle of cousins and friends. He “gets” British humor despite the fact that he doesn’t take joking well when he’s on the teasing end of a laugh. He’s upped his game in the kitchen: “Jose” is turning into a chef with his dad’s help.
What I wish with all my heart is that someone had taken me aside when my
kid son was in school and told me that school isn’t all it’s cracked up to be; that, sometimes, just getting through it and walking out the door with a high school diploma is amazing. (PS It’s okay if cub scouts really sucked for your kid and you bailed out on that mini-adventure after two years. You stayed in long enough to discover that camping is cool; outdoor campfires and the quiet of being off in the woods near a lake is priceless. )
“You won’t have to worry about what his life will be like after high school.” Boy, I wish someone had told me that. “Everybody has to pay their dues and your child will grow up and pay his, just like everybody else pays theirs. When it’s done? He’ll be just fine.”
So, the dues he paid had to do with the kind of jobs he got and held onto for nine years. He was horribly miscast in the first one by one of the social service agencies in town that really sucked. And since they folded their tents and went out of business very shortly after placing my kid in his first job, I get to say that. Knowing that they were going down didn’t stop them from taking him on as a client. Their insider information should have morally and ethically obligated them to fess up that they were under-staffed and ill equipped to properly provide services to my son. If this happens to you as you begin your own search for supportive services after your son or daughter graduates from high school, remember that when agencies fail you, learn all you can from what happens and move on.
He stayed in this job long enough to learn how to commercially clean a public restroom – ask him to tell you about the woman who attacked him with her purse because she wanted to get into the bathroom and couldn’t because he was mopping the floor. She flipped out and Security had to physically escort her out of the store but not before she took out one huge display and knocked a few stacks of new books onto the floor.
He spent nine years in the commercial cleaning field holding jobs that were always part time with hours that nobody else wanted to work. Nights and weekends. He joined a gym. He bought a car and paid off the car loan. And he drove that car until the guy at the car repair shop said, “It’s not worth putting any more money into it.”
He also started volunteering as a dog walker, on Sundays and Mondays, out at Lollypop Farm. Not so surprising to me, that’s when he began to be celebrated for the things that he knows and is extraordinarily good at doing. Put together a spread sheet analysis for a software program? Not in your wildest dreams. Read the behaviors of four dogs in a kennel suite or figure out which dog is people friendly despite how it looks? In a heartbeat. Go out and make a ga-zillion sales calls? So not happening. Be able to problem-solve coaxing a really scared dog out of its kennel? You betcha!
A lot of what my son knows about dogs he learned because he grew up with them, started paying attention to them long before he learned how to talk. Did it help that I dragged him off to dog obedience classes when he was eight and nine years old? That he absorbed a lot of information about dogs when I ran an adoption program for retired greyhounds? That one of his best buds was a shepherd-husky mixed breed named Suzy who thought my kid hung the moon and the stars? That he overheard my long phone conversations with my dog loving friends; for years I had conversations about every conceivable dog subject with a small group of enormously talented women. We were all involved with dogs: pulling them out of track kennels, or taking them in off the streets, fostering them ourselves or working with a foster network; we were taking our own dogs to classes, going to dog shows, reading dog books and talking about what we’d read, telling stories about the antics of our own dogs, going to dog events and local festivals. The common denominator was always dogs. And my kid was always somewhere close by.
Over the years, he earned the equivalent of an MBA in dogs. And finally, after nine dues paying years, he’s working full time with dogs. I am so proud of him that it feels like my own heart will burst into a million pieces and go soaring out into the universe to light a million stars.
Just when I thought there could be no encore performance, he initiated his own step-by-step plan to see if the dog that had captured his heart would be a good fit for our family. How we came to this place as a family to reconfigure our human/animal pack, is a story that’s already unfolding. Stay tuned. Details are coming soon.