The worst, I’m telling ya. It was Family Day at our oldest boy’s college and, even though we didn’t really know what that meant, all of us were looking forward to being together. I miss that boy, and was genuinely excited.
Toney put together a CARE package for him, including his favorite snacks, and some new clothes for winter. The entire trunk of my car was full of stuff.
I left work at 10 pm on Friday night, so I could be up and ready to leave by 9 am on Saturday. We were all in a good mood, and joking around while The Beatles played inside the li’l gray car.
And when we got there… it all began to unravel. Almost immediately.
He came out of his dorm, and was subdued. I didn’t expect him to come running, like he was six years old. But I expected a little more than what we got. He had very little to say, and basically just gave us the “‘Sup?” chin-lift.
I’m not a fan, but whatever. He’s 18. There’s a lot of shit I’m not a fan of. He said his roommate was gone, so we carried all the stuff from my trunk up to his room, which was a mess. He could’ve gone through there with a trash bag, since his parents were coming, but… I wasn’t really surprised he didn’t.
Everything was still OK, and we attempted to talk with him about his classes, his friends, etc. But he was giving us one-word answers, and texting non-stop. Toney showed him the new shirts and pants she bought him, and he barely even gave them a glance. And just continued texting.
By this point my brow was starting to furrow, and a frown was beginning to develop.
Toney had some paperwork for him to sign, something to do with voter registration — which he’d asked her to handle on his behalf. However, it seemed to annoy him. He was starting to piss me off.
We walked across campus, to have lunch, and he and the younger boy walked far ahead.
“Is it just me, or is he being kind of rude?” I asked Toney.
“No, it’s not just you,” she answered.
Toney had purchased lunch coupons, for ten bucks each, which were good for meals inside the main dining hall. But he said he wanted something else, and disappeared with his brother. WTF?? Twenty dollars in food coupons, wasted. Grrr…
We got our lunches, and eventually all four of us were seated at a table. And by this point, I was pretty much done. Toney was still trying to make small-talk, but I wasn’t participating. I just ate, and spoke when spoken to.
After we finished, the two boys asked if they could walk around for a while, alone. When we met back up, and nothing had improved, everything came to a head.
It was horrible. There was crying, and hurt feelings. The younger boy kept interjecting, while I was talking with the older one, and I snapped at him — which touched off another big scene. It was an utter disaster, the whole day ruined.
I felt like the older boy was being disrespectful, and he seemed to be confused by this. He said he’d been looking forward to seeing us, and had been excited all week. Then I “wouldn’t talk,” Toney was “nagging” him about stuff, and the whole thing went down the ol’ shit-a-rama.
And our younger son was FUMING mad at me too, for telling him to butt out. It was horrible.
I received about 90% of the credit for ruining the day, and felt (and feel) terrible about it. We tried to salvage things, but the damage was done. Plus, during the protracted, teary conversation — in the middle of a field, underneath a tree — both kids leveled some long-simmering criticisms at me. Which was like a dagger through my heart.
They say it bothers them a great deal that I’m never around (because I work at night), and when I am, I’m not always engaged. And the younger boy added that I’m always mad about something, that I can’t even get a burger at Wendy’s without there being some sort of issue.
It’s true that I notice things, and comment on them. I’m hard-wired that way. But it’s a gross exaggeration to say I’m always mad about something. I’m no Sunshine. I notice, comment, and move on. Generally speaking. In fact, of the four of us, I am the most upbeat. I am the one who is joking around, and trying to have fun. I let sooooo many things go, things my own parents would’ve lost their shit over.
But the part about me not being engaged… that hurts, because it’s probably true. I have a lot on my mind, and there’s certainly room for improvement in that category.
I feel terrible about the way the day turned out. And it would be easy to blame it on the older boy, but I’m the adult — I should’ve never allowed it to escalate to such a level. Now we won’t see him again for several weeks, and won’t have a real opportunity to fix things. Every time I think about it, there are butterflies in my stomach. I feel awful.
Yeah, the older kid wasn’t acting all that great. But, as I said, he’s 18. I should’ve just sucked it up, and maybe had a phone conversation with him about it later, when we had some distance from the matter. Or just let it go altogether.
I had a long talk with the younger boy yesterday, and think we’re OK. I need to set aside time where he receives my undivided attention. That will begin immediately.
And in a few weeks I’m going down to the college, and picking the older boy up for fall break. He’ll have something like five days off. So, we’ll have an opportunity to spend about three hours together in the car. I’m not sure he’ll view it as an “opportunity,” but I’m going to try to do some repair work.
Yesterday Toney and I were in a store, and some shitbag with a ZZ Top beard was SCREAMING at his 10 year old daughter, and making belittling remarks. I don’t understand how anyone could be that way, even when they’re angry. It feels like the asshole bar has been set pretty low at our house; there’s never been any ZZ Top hollering, personal insults, or anything of the sort.
I still feel horrible about crossing it, though. It’ll be one of those things that pops into my head for years to come, and causes me to grimace every time. Family Day. Ha!
Before we part ways here… I have one request. Please don’t criticize my kids in the comments. I can do it, but you can’t. Feel free to criticize kids in general, just not mine specifically. OK? I don’t know where the BANNED FOR LIFE button is inside WordPress, but can find it. Thanks.
I’ll see you guys again next time.
Have a great day.
Buy yourself something cool at Amazon! It’s the American way.