Saturday Was The Worst, And I’m Largely To Blame

bad dayThe 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.

Comments

  1. Sorry to hear you had a bad day.

    Maybe it just has to do with being away from home for the first time.

    It’s been a long time – 30 years – but I think when I came home from the military for the first time I did not treat my parents very well either.

  2. Erika in Louisiana says:

    Been there, done that, got the blame more times than I want to count. It’s kinda like the holidays — everyone wants the perfect gathering, but it can go from zero-to-meltdown in a matter of minutes. Wait till he comes home full of criticism for the home that, in all likelihood, he misses desperately. Hang in there, dad. The good still outweighs the bad. And this, my friends, may be the first comment that I’ve ever left that wasn’t dripping with sarcasm. Be afraid.

    • Great comparison with the holidays. We’ve had some great ones and others that hit the shitter. Sigh… is family fun?

  3. Brenda Love says:

    Aww Jeff, you are way too hard on yourself. You are a great dad, as evidenced in your writings here…over and over and over again. Just the fact you MISS your child shows you are a great dad.

    I remember when my dad dumped me off at college and said “See you at Christmas” and was gone.

    Methinks the boy was just asserting his newfound independence in a not-so-great way. He probably feels just as rotten about things.

    It was just a family day gone awry, do not beat yourself up forever about it. All is well.

    • Dorothy B. Raught says:

      exactly! this is the beginning of the breaking of the parental ties which lasts for a few years, after which they krazy glue back together. it happened when i went away, and when my 4 kids went away. i couldn’t stand my mother until i was 21. all of a sudden she became extremely smart and loving and wise. i wanted to spend time with her and ask her advice. heh. just wait, it’ll happen. they’ll realize how cool and knowledgeable you are. double heh then come the grandchildren whom you like a lot more than you did your kids. notice i said like, not love. heh

  4. Jerry in WV says:

    Don’t let it get to you too much. I have two grown daughters who each have children of their own and I still get some of that kind of boolshit from them. It goes from one end of the spectrum to the other. You don’t spend enough time or you are too involved. I guess it comes with the territory. Just like the good times and bad. Guilt and Happiness. I try to leave the guilt behind, do the best I can and enjoy the happiness they bring me, every single day of my life. Even with the boolshit, I love them with every fiber of my being and I know you do too.

  5. You were expecting to catch up on everything you missed with your son.

    He was looking forward to sitting around not doing much like life always was at home.

  6. There’s a reason I never had children of my own. I probably would have gone all Adrian Ray Rice Dwyer on them. My tolerance meter for shit has two settings, none and hell-no-none-never.

  7. Sometimes, when you miss someone very much, it is easier to pretend to yourself that you don’t care. That way when you have to go back to your life without those people, it doesn’t hurt as much.

    On the other hand, when you work very hard doing things you don’t want to do to provide opportunities for children who don’t seem to appreciate you and your effort, it’s disheartening. All you ask in return is respect, and maybe a little love. That doesn’t seem like so very much to expect.

    My own 16 year old daughter who went away to school this year told me “my home is not where YOU are mom”. Ouch!

    Hang in there

  8. I see myself in most everything you write, especially this story.
    I wonder what my three kids truly think about me. Scary!
    This scenario is one I’ve lived many times and I’m sure you have also. I hope you get the closure you want.
    Good luck.

  9. That’s why they call ’em family dynamics, because that shit can get dynamic before anyone knows what’s happening. Press on, all well even out.

  10. Group hug for Jeff!

    I didn’t visit my dad in the hospital one weekend because it was a rare weekend I actually had the house to myself. He’s been gone over a decade and I still feel like shit for being so selfish. He didn’t even miss me not visiting so I probably gave myself more guilt about it.

    Maybe, in a weird way, it was good you all cleared the air. It’ll probably make you all closer in the long run.

  11. I can feel for you – I am about 2 yrs ahead of you on the college kid thing. I can relate – 1 word replies, never letting us know what he is up to, grades are always “fine”. Getting a simple text every now and again to let us know all is good is all we wanted – it seemed that was even too much

    My son was the same – it gets worse before it gets better!

    Hang in there!!!

  12. sunshine_in_va says:

    You should probably be grateful, Jeff – odd as that may sound. In the few weeks since he’s left home, your boy’s starting to become his own man. He’s starting the long (but never complete) process of separating himself not only from his parents but from the life he’s known. He’s getting a new life and he’s going to stand on his own two feet in it. Every day of your parenthood – whether you knew it or not (or liked it or not) – was leading up to this process. Yeah – you fucked up a thing or two along the way – but then, which parent hasn’t? You love them and they love you – which will be borne out in time.

    Now knock it the fuck off with the angst and get back to the snark!

    • sunshine_in_va says:

      If it’s any comfort, I mentioned today’s blog to my wife, telling her she should read it. Turns out I’m disengaged too; too angry about things that make me angry and always pissed about something (which I’ve been hearing for 40 years and I’m sick of it). Guess the bar for assholery is pretty low in my house too. And here I thought her ex-husband had made it so I’d never have to apologize for anything (amazing douchebag that he is).

  13. I once saw a Mom scream “shut the fuck up you fucking cunt” at a 3 or 4 year old in a stroller. So there’s some perspective.

  14. For as messy as your kid’s room may have been; it can’t compare to what I found in some hotel rooms we have a few lieutenants staying in.

    I started getting complaints from these guys about the maid staff not cleaning their rooms. As part of the contract, I can go inspect anytime. So I did.

    I still can hardly believe what I found. Here’s a list:
    A mushroom pizza, that originally only had meat based toppings.
    A pile of unwashed cloths a little over three feet high.
    A hotel table with at least three layers of spilled food and drink on it.
    A fucking weight bench with a full set of free weights.
    A bird.
    A trail through cloths and garbage from the door, to the bathroom, to the bed.
    A mini fridge with a rack full of loose, unwrapped, sandwiches from subway.
    A bathroom floor and towels covered in blood and small curly hairs.
    Several dozen instances of partially drank beers and sodas strown about the room.
    Multiple baggies of what I was initially worried was drugs, but after further inspection was laundry detergent the person had no clear intent on using. (Why were there several little baggies of this.)
    A bathroom stacked to the ceiling with various shipping boxes from online salons. (This includes the bathtub space, I don’t know where they were showering.)
    A 2 liter soda bottle with lily pads in it.
    A parts of what appearred to be a leg cast.

    No maid staff should have to deal with that.
    The hotel was trying to accomodate them so they wouldn’t upset the installation. To the General Managers pleasure, I immediatly removed these Soldiers from the hotel and switched their living locations to on post and gave the hotel some more mature Soldiers.

    Being off post, the command team is a little more detached than if these guys were on post. But now they are here and I got the company commander to work into the LTs.

    • Sounds like some of the ROTC officers we had that lived off base. The Mavericks/NCOs that replaced them were way more humane and human in their quarters. Got letters of appreciations from management and from housekeeping for that prudent switch. I still get free room upgrades at that chain!

      Unfortunately, when I made the really big step of graduating from Basic Training, my Maternal Unit (MU) couldn’t be bothered to call, never mind show up. I was the only kid there without parental representation. I was also the youngest kid there, having signed up on my 17th b-day.

      Anyway, you make my experience look sad! You’d’a made a great Mom for me! I’m 50 now and a Proud Grammy of five Weasels (‘cuz they’re cute & furry but they’ll turn and bite you occasionally). I haven’t had contact with the MU for going on five years, but I’m so very happy in my life and I’d guess my kids are, too!

  15. Not much more need be said, seeing as how the previous commenters have provided all the necessary insight! I’ll simply echo the notion that perhaps it was a good thing that some of the air was cleared. This is a time of tremendous transition, for ALL of you, and the strain is bound to make itself known one way or the other. Raising young men to become men-men has its share of bumps, but just think – you could have had girls!!

  16. Steve in WV says:

    I agree with Tiff. The whole family dynamic has changed and it will change again, assuming your younger son will also leave for college when the time comes. These are just bumps in the road. Keep your eye on the long-term goals and don’t sweat the short-term stuff.

  17. Thanks for being specific with what their criticisms (and yours) were.
    College is a big adjustment for everyone. My daughter is 27 now, and I’m trying to remember what that first year was like. I remember her dorm room being a pig sty, and lots of laundry coming my way. We got through it somehow, and I guess it’s good that we don’t remember the arguments. Ugh, I just remembered one. I pitched a fit about how the girls all dress like sluts for Halloween, and I forbid her to dress like that. I’m lucky she didn’t turn into a slut just to spite me. (We get along really well now. – famous last words)

    Don’t be too hard on yourself. It doesn’t sound like it was all your fault. They’re probably over it by now anyway. We’re all just doing the best we can, right?

  18. Expectations! That’s where the break down is…human nature…we all have them and they’re sure to let us down. You all were looking forward to the day! Had maybe visions of running into each other’s arms tearfully slobbering about how much you all missed each other, Ok maybe overkill, but you get the idea. I had an awful way of ruining things with my kids when they were growing up…Christmases, Easters, birthdays, etc. I’d want it to be perfect and when it was I’d end up sullen and disappointed. When they grew up they’d say “Uh oh, it’s a party today mom is going to freak out!” When I heard them say that it clicked in my head how I’d been behaving. As I am now aged (50) and wise; I’ve realized the important thing is to be together. That’s all, just enjoying each other’s company. And the small little seemingly insignificant moments are really what’s important! *SNIFF*

  19. I have the pit in my stomach just reading your post. Being a parent is hard. Being a provider is hard. Sometimes being both at once is nearly impossible. My 14 year old son spent my husbands 3rd deployment counting days til dad was home. Utter euphoria when he got back safe & sound. Then it was tough to watch my husband be completely disengaged for a few months. Finally I told him, that kid suffered more during your absence than even you did. So you better buck up or else. He hadn’t even realized how hurtful he had been towards the boy. Sometimes we all need a reality check. I’m sad just thinking it all over again. You’re a good dad. My husbands a good dad. We’re all just trying not to fail.

  20. It’s hard for young men to express themselves sometime. It probably was a great visit for him, because you were there. I think part of parenting is letting go of the child we imagine and accepting the reality. My own is still little, but I played a large part in raising a sibling who’s over a decade younger than me. From about age 17 to age 23, I was convinced he either hated me or was the most selfish person alive. He perceives it totally differently. It’s the age and gender, I think.

  21. My oldest is 8 and my youngest 10 months. I have no parenting experience with teens.

    I know that mine can throw out the “disengaged” thing and probably be right. Last week my wife suggested I’m a more fun, outgoing, and engaged person while at work. This comes from someone we know socially who had an opportunity to see me professionally. That was a fun talk.

    And there I times when I am certain I am screwing up my kids. I’m a yeller. I’m not a name caller or a belittler, I’m just loud in a “do what you’re told’ or “here are the consequences of not doing what you were told” kind of way. I believe in big, loud, scary discipline without physicality.

    But sometimes my impatience and frustrations are my excuse for losing my mind a little too quickly. I do make an effort to balance it out with lots of praise for when the kids are being the great kids they are. I hope like hell it works out, but like concerned parents everywhere I worry every day because I know I could be better. And I think knowing that helps me work on being better, even though I can guarantee with absolute certainty that I’ll never be perfect.

    Most of us are doing our best I expect. As long as the kids are kept fed, clean, and able to function when out of my sight I figure in the balance we’re good.

  22. I like the pre-emptive go fuck yourself warning.

  23. the pointing out shit wrong with you is a kick in the ass. You can’t defend it without sounding like more of an asshole. And my thing has always been if yuou feel this way why don’t you talk to me sooner?

  24. My son grunts and gives me one-word answers when I pick him up from school and he’s 5. It’s a different story if his mother or my father-in-law picks him up. He’s a chatterbox for them.

    I can’t wait for Family Day when he goes to college … if I live that long.

    Hang in there, Artist Formerly Known as Mr. Surf Report. You’re a Top-Shelf father.

  25. johnthebasket says:

    Ditto to the wisdom, and even the platitudes. I feel for you. And I understand why you don’t want an entirely honest response. Having said that, Family Day? Fall Break? The college experience has changed some since the policy of eleven weeks of grinding study and/or drinking. Classes? Not on James K. Polk’s birthday for God’s sake.

    jtb

    • No shit! Fall break was Thanksgiving. Weather? Never heard of it. There had to be 2 feet of snow and ice to close the university and that was in Tennessee. University of Arkansas was closed 15 days last year because of weather and you can bet the parents didn’t get a 15 day refund on tuition!!
      Husband pushes daughter about colleges (shes 15) and I sneak and remind her that heavy equipment, plumber or electrician are honorable money making careers and will be making MORE money after the current folks retire and there is no one to take their place.

  26. He was happy to see you but finding that place between “Yay mommy and daddy!’ and ‘Now that I’m in college and not a kid anymore’ is new to him and the happy medium isn’t obvious or natural yet. I get how you felt. It’ll improve. It’ll be fine.

    • Janet in Wisco says:

      After having three kids go through college I agree. Also maybe he knows you want to hear all about classes, friends, dorm life etc, but he has had so much new that it is over whelming to tell you in a few hours and hard to even know where to start so he doesn’t and then feels he is letting you down and so just clams up.

  27. You and the kid are in a transition stage between child and adult. He acted like a child, which is perfectly natural sometimes at that age. You responded to him as if he were an adult. I’m sure your sons acted rudely quite a bit as children, because all children do. As parents, we endure a lot of that because we know they’re children. As they mature however, the expectations change. If you’re going to apologize to the kid, the apology should include that it’s not really fair of you to expect him to act like an adult when he’s only recently become one, but from this point forward your job really is to communicate to him what is expected of him as a man. In my opinion, too many men take their childish and self-centered behaviors into their adult relationships because they were never taught by their fathers what the real expectations are for adult men. Having consideration for others is one of them. It will be a transition time over the next few years, and he’ll go back and forth between boy and man, but you no longer have an obligation to endure the bad behavior of a child. Your job is to teach him what is expected of him as a man. I don’t think either of you did anything all that wrong over the weekend. The kid acted like 18 year old’s sometimes do, and you acted like a father who wants his son to grow into a man. I think that’s what the conflict was really about. I don’t think either of you made any big mistakes here. From my observation, males don’t easily move into adulthood. I think it’s encouraging for you, and your son, that you do have the expectation of more considerate and mature behavior. If you don’t, who will? I can also tell you that my sons now in their 20’s had similar “incidents” with their father during the transition out of the teenage years. Their father really worried about whether he was ruining the relationship with them. My focus was different. I cared about the men they were becoming. I can report they are turning into very admirable young men, so the conflicts centering around their father wanting them to act more like men and less like children was all for the good.

  28. Jeff, sincerely sorry the whole thing went to hell. Been there myself as have most of your readers. It totally sucks when they get old enough to dredge up every weakness you may or may not have and use it against you, lol. Like everyone else said, it’s just part of the process and things will end up great in the end. Hang tough my man.

  29. Chuck in Belpre says:

    Don’t chew your own heart out over it. The kid is in college. At least he doesn’t have a starring role in Lockup:Extended Stay alternating between screaming obscenities at a locked door and penning a rambling screed on his cell wall using nothing but ketchup packets and his own fecal matter. It’ll get better.

    • johnthebasket says:

      After 34 instances of well-intentioned and even loving advice, the oracle of Ohio puts the thing in perspective. I know I embarrass Chuck when I say stuff like this, but he usually manages to be simultaneously wise, funny and caring, while still working in the phrase “fecal matter”. I always look forward to his comments.

      John

  30. For fear of being banned for life isn’t this the secret who is most like Jeff?

  31. Maybe he was hoping you had his girlfriend stuffed in the trunk too. Imagine his surprise when you said, “Sweet sainted mother of Joe Pesci…how did she get in there?”

  32. Single parent here. Raised my son all by my lonesome from age 3 years. It was tough. I had an 8 – 5 job and then kept books for a general contractor at home, at night and on the weekends. I remember one day when my son asked me to watch something on tv with him or play a game; I was working in my home office at the time and, as usual, said “I need to finish this first.” His comment was “Mom, you’re always working. You never play with me.” I felt awful but, at the time, it was what had to be done to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. But, through it all, he was a good kid and never got in any trouble and I felt really lucky as so many of his friends were driving their parents insane by the time they were teenagers.

    Then he flunked out of college in his second semester (still living at home) and moved out to an apartment. He didn’t have much to do with me for a couple of years unless he needed something or he was sick, bad sick. Finally, he saved a bundle of money and went back to college at a school about 4 hours from home. I was so proud of him and couldn’t wait to go visit him in his apartment (he was not living in student housing). After he was there for several months, I drove 4 hours on a Saturday to spend the afternoon and night with him, planning of driving back home Sunday. While I was there, he just sorta did his thing and didn’t really talk to me very much at all. It was really awkward for me and I guess I got my feelings hurt a bit (Mom’s do that, you know). After we went out to dinner, he asked what hotel I was spending the night in. WTH? I thought (those silly expectations rearing their ugly heads here) that one of us would sleep on the sofa and one in his bed. At this point, I REALLY got my feelings hurt, pouted and got in my car and drove all the way home. It was the worst visit I’ve ever had with him and I have no idea what was going on except he was “growing up” and he didn’t know any better. (BTW, he did graduate from college this time around.)

    Today, my son is a mature adult and our relationship is amazing. I’ve learned to listen to him and not offer advice unless he asks for it. There isn’t much he doesn’t talk to me about, which is weird, but I know he truly trusts me and my opinion. It’s about time. 🙂 I had shouting fits many times with my son (me yelling; not him…ever); sometimes I thought that was the only way he would “hear me”. So, Jeff, my words to you would be: We all go through this aggravation/frustration with our kids at this awful age; we have no idea what we are doing and just do the best we can, but we love them and want what’s best for them. It’s hard to know what they need at times…advice or silence. Don’t beat yourself up. Your prior weekend visit with him was good; the next one will be good…and he will probably never mention what happened this weekend at all. I am really sad that you had to go through this; no one can hurt us like our kids.

    • P.S. I spent several years apologizing for mistakes I felt I had made in raising him (screaming at him, high expectations, etc.) to no avail. He never really said anything one way or the other or even acknowledged my apologies. I don’t think he realized, even when I told him, that I had lived with an all consuming-fear of failure as a Mother. His turning out as he has, I’m going to assume that I did a pretty damn good job even when I doubted myself.

    • No one can hurt us like our kids. You got that right!

  33. Aside from the one dickishly flippant comment made in a nostalgic haze, by a brown-nosed basket (Strike that… bastard), that you didn’t want an “entirely honest response”, the comments left here are pretty good.
    It’s not your kid’s fault. It’s not your fault. It’s a product of a child growing up and away from parents. It’s what happens in every relationship, although it manifests differently in different relationships, it amounts to the same thing. It’s a metamorphosis.
    You, as a parent, trying to hold on to the relationship that you had with the oldest boy.
    He is trying to redefine himself as an independent adult, and sometimes, it feels like a round peg in a square hole.
    I went through an almost identical situation when my parents came to see me during family week at school. They wanted their little girl, the same as I always was, but I felt like a young woman, and was trying to break free of the little girl mold. I did my best to show them how independent I was, and how I could take care of myself. It came off bad, and I’m afraid that I hurt their feelings… terribly. Of course this is something one doesn’t realize at that tender age, and it takes time to reflect and grow, but once done, realization hits.
    It will all be okay Papa Bear. After all he is a product of yourself.

    • johnthebasket says:

      Round pegs fit in square holes. I think you meant the converse. Also, you might want to drop the grudge. They’re heavy and can cause stoopage. This is not an appropriate site for trolling. Thanks.

      John

      • If I meant the converse I would have stated it. It’s all relevant. Don’t you think? After all, any shaped peg will fit in any shaped hole if the size allows it. Another redundant correction.
        You think too highly of yourself if you imagine I carry a grudge.
        Brown-nosing sycophants are my pet peeve. I really should get over it I know. This was a serious subject which deserved more than your half assed attempt at humor.
        My back and my constitution are ironclad. The only stoopage I’m concerned with, is stooping low enough to validate your crass remarks.
        Oddly, a troll is how I envision you.
        Thanks for being so willing to jump up and set the parameters for someone else’s site.
        Big of you.
        I’m not in the habit of indulging attention whores. That’s all you’ll get from me.
        Cheers!

  34. You can’t even get a burger at Wendy’s without some kind of issue. Too funny.

    Not surprising they didn’t want to eat in the cafeteria.

  35. Reading this post reminded me of how much of an asshole I was to my Mom and family when they dropped me off at college back in 1991. For some reason, I just had the mindset at the time that it wasn’t cool to hang around them and I also didn’t want any of the other kids to see me around them. I even knew in the pit of my stomach at the time that I was being out of line, but for some reason I charged on with that attitude.

    I don’t have kids so I can’t empathize, but I can let you know that I think that most kids coming of age in college have no reference point in their attitude in regards to how their behavior impacts those that they know will love them regardless of their attitude.

    Fortunately, I had a loving family in that if they didn’t understand it at the time, they worked with it. If it means anything, I still beat myself up from time to time for being the jerk that I was back in the day.

  36. If the separation went perfectly, it would suggest that neither of you missed what came before. Try to take it as the challenges faced by a good family struggling with the necessary change and separation of a kid reaching adulthood. I realize that’s probably cold comfort, but try and relish the fact that he’s not feeling “thank god I’m out of that shitshow.” It’s hard now, but it’s a testament to what you’ve accomplished as a family. Head up, friend.

  37. I may take some heat for this, but I’m gonna say it anyway. Jeff, I’ve been reading your stuff for years now, and I can tell you from a neutral observers viewpoint that you have seemed to become more bitter in general about other people, life situations, etc.

    I give you kudos for recognizing your fault in this particular situation, but (and I am no psychologist) you seem to regularly make an effort to point out how upbeat and happy you are, when perhaps maybe you really aren’t. (for whatever reason)

    I’m only telling you this because I am the exact same way, I almost feel like I am reading my own thoughts and opinions when I read your updates, and I know that my ‘observations’, and ‘comments’, whether intentional or not, come off as negativity to others.

    And negative folks are usually unhappy folks, deep down inside.
    One good thing you have going for you that I do not, is that you seemingly can admit your faults and try to mend fences when necessary. That is admirable.

    Oh, and don’t worry about the weekend. Kids move on so fast I’m sure your boys haven’t given any of it near as much thought as you have.

  38. This conversation just came up last week with some friends. They had a similar situation with a child that went off to college this year as well. I guess I have a little different viewpoint on this. I am a step-mom to 2 boys, both in their mid 20’s and still acting like children having temper tantrums (which is a story for another day).
    We grew up much differently than the kids today and in my opinion it reflects in their growing up process. When we were kids, we didn’t have all this technology and really, it was a simpler time. We played outside, and when we wanted to communicate, we had to actually talk to one another. The younger generation learned how to communicate through text messages, email and Facebook and regardless of our parental efforts to teach our children the things we have been programmed with, the times we live in basically negate those efforts. . We try to raise our kids the way we were raised but somewhere, somehow the art of communication gets lost and when they finally do have something to say, it’s all that bottled up stuff that has been festering for so long. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Jeff, it’s not your fault and you should not beat yourself up over it. Millions of parents are going through the same thing. They just don’t know how to express themselves the same way we old farts do. They are growing up with a totally different mindset than we have and I think that it takes kids a lot longer to find their way than it took us. I hate to say it, but send the boy a text, break the ice. No, it’s not the way we would ideally handle a situation such as yours but it is what our young ones know.

  39. Ron from PA says:

    Mr. Kay……………
    If you were wondering about how many ppl read your stuff every week based on comments? Well there ya have it!!!
    You’ll get no advice from me. If the way my kids treated me is any indication of parental success, I am a complete failure.
    Do what you feel is right.

  40. I think all parents have days like that and it always hurts, but some good came of it,because you now realize how your impact on their lives and you can do something about it. If you follow through, your relationship with the younger boy can be salvaged, and the older one will settle in on the trip home, I’m hoping.

  41. Completely normal. Frustrating and irritating, yes, but completely normal behavior from a teenager who has been “set free” for the first time in his life. He didn’t know how to react to Mom and Dad bringing him presents and giving him the attention that he missed so much. He probably felt very awkward because he realized how much he missed you but didn’t want to “slide back” to the little kid that he was a month ago.
    They come back around. Really. They always do.

  42. Ian the Errolite says:

    Ha! At least your fellow Americans didn’t vote to be ruled by the English again. We had 15 hours when we were in control before we shit the bed and handed it back to the banks and corporations. It hurts like hell. Yesterday we the first time since the 19th that I didn’t wake up feeling like shit, before getting out of bed and facing the day. I’m seriously considering emigration to Canada. (I believe that they are possibly more Scottish than us at this point!) Anyway, take it easy fella.