Friday, August 18, 2017

It Was A Day Like Any Other

"It was a day like any other, except it wasn't"

 This is the first line of Colin's college application essay that he is working on. Today was the last day of a week-long college application workshop at his high school of which a well-written essay is a critical portion. I was on pick-up duty.

As Colin got settled in the passenger seat, he was eager to read to me, what he has written so far. After the first sentence he paused, waiting for my response. I asked what the topic was. The prompt he used had to do with how he developed as a leader in High School.

 Overcoming Obstacles

Earlier this month, my husband took our son, a rising high school senior to a college talk at his school. Afterwards, my husband was chatting with my son's guidance counselor. Essays are an important part of the application process and the counselor thought our son should write about his challenges with sound issues. He asked permission to speak with our son about this.

We were concerned about how the subject would be approached as we did not want to cause any set backs. Colin has been clear upon coming back home, we were not to discuss his sound issues. We sent an email warning the counselor to proceed with caution  We were prepared that our son, the master of deflection, would avoid this topic. However, I was intrigued with the possibility that he might be open to using this to his advantage. Colin has made such remarkable progress over the last three years, I yearn for some insights as to how this has happened; something I might be able to share with other parents of children with "Select Sound Sensitivities".

The Guidance Counselor assured us he would not mention anything specific that he would not have readily known about our son without us telling him. He would speak in the most general of terms.

Clearly This Was Not To Be

Unfortunately this is not the break we had hoped for. It is clear Colin is going for a generic essay. One that will be unremarkable, unoriginal and will not reveal the mystery of how he has overcome a personal setback.
I was a bit disappointed  but not surprised.

I offered my advice of avoiding superfluous verbiage. I went on to suggest that he could talk about being the youngest of three boys where everyone wanted to be the leader. Before I could continue, he cut me off.

He was indignant and angrily informed me that he was not going to write about family. He does not consider his brothers or his parents family and as far as he is concerned he has no family. I'd be lying if his words did not sting a little. I had hope we were further along the road to reconciliation. I immediately fell silent.

After a short while he began to read the first paragraph to me. While I still feel there needs to be a stronger opening sentence, the rest of what he had so far was not bad. It was just not the original story that needed to be told. One that would reveal the true Colin. A little transparency and honesty goes a long way.

When he was finished, I continued to be mute. Perhaps my angry silence and lack of response would send a message. One thing is clear, my son still holds a lot of resentment and is far from taking ownership of his issues.

We continue to be a Work-In-Progress!

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Need to Know versus The Want to Know

The last few weeks have been a flurry of activity. This week is Colin's Spring Break. Last week was my middle-son's time home and the week before that was eldest son's break. We also had family come in for visits. While I think Colin was glad to have his brothers home, it may have gotten a bit overwhelming at times.

I noticed one evening when Colin shushed me, he was slightly more agitated than normal. I stopped talking but eldest continued to chat with me. Colin knows better than to shush his oldest brother as he is not as accommodating as Dad and me. Instead Colin disappeared down to his room.

I later asked Eldest if he thought that Dad and my voices were triggers for his baby brother. He seemed to shrug it off and advised to treat Colin normally. He also added that we need to keep questions to a minimum as it gets annoying. Apparently Dad and I have memory issues and it bothers Eldest that we ask about things we have already been told.

It made me feel better that my oldest boy did not seem to notice anything alarming. I have been trying hard to minimize conversations with Colin. He seems to do best when I listen and occasionally have short responses devoid of advice; just to let him vent.

I have so many questions that I'd love to ask my son but have tried to show restraint. It is important to balance the "Need" to know versus the "Want".

I keep telling myself that all will be revealed in good time.

As always we are a work-in-progress!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Sweet Sixteen

Today Colin turns 16.  As if it is not hard enough to wake up on a Monday,  Daylight Saving Time made it more difficult. I was up at 6:00 a.m., fed the dog and tried to wake Colin at 6:20. I found him still in his dress clothes from Sunday, on the family room couch and not responding to my birthday and wake up greetings. I had told Colin if he could get up early enough, I would take him to Tim Horton's, however I could see this was not an option.

Before I ran out the door, I told Colin that it was time to start waking up and that I would be back soon. When I came back with a dozen donuts, he was still in the fetal position and unfazed by his dog's barking.
It took at least five attempts to get him up.

As I finished getting ready, packed his lunch and mine, I warned him that we needed to leave soon. He looked at me and asked if he could stay home to catch up on some projects. Yesterday afternoon, he had asked the same favor. We had a swim team awards banquet and were leaving the parking lot when I asked him about his birthday. Dad wanted to get Colin new head phones and I felt it was best to ask before buying. Colin wanted to wait for a gift but asked if he could stay home instead. I asked if he had homework to catch up on but he said "Not really. I just have some projects I want to work on".

We had let him skip school two weeks ago when he had a Math Club competition he spent all day from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sunday at a group member's house. We were not going to make this a habit.

When he asked this morning, I turned to Dad to let him field this one.

"NO!" Hubs said in a firm, and loud voice. " When I stopped by your room last night to tell you I was going to bed, at was 11:00 and you were still gaming. That should have been your signal to stop".

Colin replied that he did not tell him. Dad responded that he needs to take responsibility for his work and grades. Colin then finished getting ready for school, realizing that staying home was not an option.

An Uneasy Silence

I was completely mute from the time we got into the car, all the way to school. I so wanted to lecture my son but knew it would not be helpful. This is a problem he needs to take ownership of .

I was not happy that Colin wasted his time playing video games and thought we'd let him stay home. I am concerned that he has slipped and is having some difficulty in getting back up. His grades are still Honor Roll status but not above a 4.0 as it had been. His time management skills are seriously lacking.

In other news, on Saturday, Colin took the SATs and felt he did really well. Eldest came home for Spring Break that day as well. This coming weekend, we have family coming in and Middle-son comes home for his break.

Last weekend we also got together with family. My brother and sister-in-law came in from Chicago to visit their daughter. We had dinner with the three of them and my sister, her youngest son and her husband. They had not seen Colin for a while and were impressed with how much he has grown. It was nice to see Colin interact with his cousins. Nice to have a normal night out.

While there are a few minor bumps in the road, the future still looks bright for Colin. He is focused on trying to get into a good college. Hopefully he gets back on track with his school work.

As always.... we are a work-in-progress!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Moment of Gratitude

It took 5 attempts to finally wake Colin up this morning. We were running late and he did not have time to waste.

After I was ready to go,  I yelled down to Colin to see if he was almost ready. He yelled up that he was working on something and it would be a minute. I cleaned up a few things in the kitchen, packed his lunch and went down to check on what was taking him so long.

Much to my dismay he was still in his t-shirt and shorts and working on his computer. He glared at me as I told him we would be late.

I should have been angry. The old me would have lectured him. I most certainly would have with his brothers. Instead when he finally was ready to go, I took a deep breath and exhaled. Things are not that bad.
In fact much to be grateful for.

1. Colin slept in his eldest brother's bed. This has become a more regular event lately.
2. Colin lets me pack his lunch. I typically do this most mornings now. There was a time 3 years ago when he would not eat anything I touched. Now he seems to welcome the help.
3. We got to school on time (barely)
4. Our relationship is slowly improving. Last night he even showed me a slide program assignment for his English class. While the work it self was not that remarkable, I was impressed that he wanted to share with me.

As always we are a work-in-progress... and have much to be grateful for!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Interim Report

Every two weeks Colin's high school sends out an email Interim Grade Report. This gives the parents and students a chance to track progress during the grading period. Each time the email arrives in my inbox, I hold my breath. Up until Christmas break, Colin was able to maintain above a 4.0 thanks to the heavy load of AP classes which give him a .5 point boost.

The cracks are beginning to show but fortunately nothing serious yet.

The first report of this year he dropped to a 3.56 GPA due mainly to Latin and English classes. This can be chalked up to the rigors of Swim Team and less-than-ideal time-management. Fortunately the swim season is pretty much over for Colin other than a few warm down practices left.

Yesterday the third report of this grading period came in. While Colin has been bit by bit bringing his average up to a 3.89, three teachers made the same disconcerting comment.

Sleeps In Class

This report was forwarded to me by my husband with a note to Colin:

There is nothing which angers a teacher like sleeping in class.  You have 3 teachers complaining!

Time to turn off the gaming,  and getting to bed by midnight.


 The warning signs we were watching for are starting to appear. Last night Dad warned that he may be turning off the internet at night. I am not sure if this registered with Colin. Currently he is trying to get over a cold. His sleep schedule has not yet changed much. After coming home from school, he falls asleep in the bathroom while getting ready for a shower. He can sleep for several hours before getting showered and having a late night dinner and then retreating to his room. We have not been watching how he spends his time but I have been told recently by Colin that he is not up on school nights gaming. (just on weekends).

The kid does have a lot on his plate. He took the ACTs this Saturday while battling his cold. Having allergies to the dog has not helped. Colin also just started a Math Club at his school with the goal of competing in the American Math Competition. He is hoping this helps his chances in getting into a good college.

To this end, Colin had debated about getting a doctor's note for the extended-time version of the ACT but decided against it. He mentioned trying to get a diagnosis for ADHD. He allusively referenced his sound issues by saying "The original reason" would not work. I was not able to gently prod him into talking about his sound sensitivities but got the impression that this was not the reason for wanting more time. Colin found out that if he chose to take the extended-time test, it would not be noted on his transcripts. His main goal is to get into a more prestigious university than his brothers.

This coming Monday, we will be making our first college visit to such a college that is 2 hours from our home. Should be interesting!

As always.... we are a work-in-progress!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

And Then There Was One

Yesterday morning I found a text from Colin on my phone:

"Pfffffff. Being the only child in this house is like having a swimming lane to yourself. Have fun in college, I will be making my way through high school"

 Colin had sent this message to his brothers Monday night. His middle-brother went back to school on Sunday, leaving him as the only child at home.

The Last Supper ( before middle-son went back to school )

Saturday night hubs and I took Colin and his brother out for a nice dinner. It is a tradition to take our boys out for a meal before they go back to school. The guest of honor picked one of our favorite Italian restaurants. We had a lovely meal and everyone was in a great mood.

When dinner was over and we were waiting for the check, Colin started to collect the dishes around him and stack them.  As he started to stack the glasses, both middle-son and I told Colin to stop as it was unnecessary and they might get stuck.

I pointed out the irony that he never clears his plates at home but somehow is able to do this in a restaurant. To which Colin replied, " well then I'd be helping YOU." with a smirk on his face. I responded with an "Ouch! That hurt!"  Hopefully it was all in jest. On the way home, I did mention that I was still hurt. It was our joke of the evening.

Back at home when the boys were out of earshot, both hubs and I remarked that this was the best dinner in years. Colin has come a long way and things are feeling normal again.

As always..... We are a work-in-progress!


Monday, January 9, 2017

Happy 2017

The holidays have come and gone. Eldest went back to school yesterday while middle-son has a few more weeks at home. Colin has been back at school for a week and we are continuing our routine. Today was another early morning where I dropped Colin off at his 6:15 a.m. swim practice.

Colin had been sleeping on the family room couch but his allergies to the dog have been getting worse. I'm not sure if this is partially due to a cold but decided to use this as an opportunity to get him into a bed. Over break he started to use the bed in the loft. After eldest left last night, I washed his sheets and told Colin he could use his brother's room. I was happy to see him take me up on the offer.

This morning seemed to go pretty smoothly between getting Colin up on time, packed up and to his practice with a minute to spare. I am hoping this trend continues.

Boring is Good

Christmas eve we had dinner at my sister-in-law's. It was a nice, calm, evening with no drama. The sort of affair that my son would call boring. In my book that is Success! Christmas Day was another calm, quiet affair. It was nice having all my boys home. They seemed to get along, although much time was spent with each of them in their rooms doing their own thing.

Eldest was able to take his brother to swim practices where he also participated. Middle-son pitched in and helped with some of the driving. He also took his baby brother out for dinner one night to try out a new pizza place. They also bought a few new video games.

The two concerns that I have are 1. Colin seems to have developed a series of rashes that the doctor thinks is a bacterial infection. Colin now has ointments to apply and we are hoping that things don't get worse as the swim season continues. 2. The amount of time Colin spends video gaming is a bit more than I feel is prudent. This seems to create some late night study sessions due to poor time management but unfortunately this is something Colin will have to figure out on his own. Luckily he has still been able to maintain over a 4.0 due to all of his A.P. classes.

On the Horizon

Two issues looming over the rest of this year. 1. Driver's Ed & Learner's Permit. 2. College Visits

Colin will be 16 in a few months and is ready to start driving lessons. I am leaving this up to his dad as I am too nervous to do this. He also wants to start planning college visits and has mentioned Chicago as one of the cities he wants to go to. We have not taken any long car trips or airplane rides since he was 12 years old and our journey with Misophonia was in full swing.

This should be some interesting territory to navigate!

As always, we are a work-in-progress!