Friday, July 31, 2015

Wayward Children

Even as I write this, I can see the humor of my heartbreak; I know that someday I will laugh at the situation. And let me warn you that logic does not work with an angry 19-year-old.
"I don't even believe you're my parents anymore!" my 19-year-old son yelled as he raced down the stairs.
This was the second time he had walked away from the conversation, and the first time he slammed a trash bag against the door frame until it burst.
You might wonder what caused this outburst.
I told him that we wouldn't pay for his apartment while he attended college unless he passed his classes.
I'll just wait a minute while you re-read that last sentence. Let it sink in.
As parents, we were insisting that this boy, who went to college last year with scholarships in hand because of his high test scores, attend class and pass the classes, if he wanted us to pay his rent.
Many teenagers or young adults might be happy if their parents paid for their college. Others might be thrilled if parents paid their rent, but apparently we went too far in agreeing to pay for both if he received good grades.
If you are trying to understand this logically, give up.
Last fall, my youngest son left for a 4-year university. A perfect storm of illness, wisdom teeth infection, a girlfriend at home, and a room full of four guys convinced him that college wasn't for him. He only passed one of four classes he took.
He moved home in January and attended a local community college. Again, only passing one of four classes. In May, before we knew he hadn't passed the classes, we let him move in with a friend. The two of them started a business, which blew up, along with the friendship in July. We never liked the roommate, so were happy to have him move home. He had talked about getting a house with three other guys, one of whom went to high school with him.
This past Saturday, we scheduled my son's classes for the fall. He has decided to take a two-year welding program. That's fine, but we don't really see him sticking with a trade job. He has never been a hands-on kind of guy, the kind who likes to get dirty or even play with Legos.
While scheduling classes, I asked him to pull up his class from this summer, and he hadn't passed it, just by a small amount, but still.
The next day, I asked my son to join me for breakfast. He didn't have time. On Monday, I again suggested we go somewhere to talk. No time.
On Tuesday, I saw him in the kitchen and attempted to bring up a conversation about the possibilities for him this fall. He could return to the 4-year university and live in an apartment with his brother while taking a few classes to explore what he wants to do.
His eyes went blank, as if he'd pulled down shades, like a character from a cartoon.
"Why do you do that?" I asked. "You aren't even listening to anything I say."
"Because you always second guess me," he said.
"When have I done that?" I asked.
"Now," he said.
And that's it. Just this one time that I thought he might not want to be a welder and knowing that he hadn't succeeded in the class he took this summer.
On Thursday, he decided to make peace and let me know that he and his friends had found a 4-bedroom house to rent.
That's when I released the bombshell that we wouldn't pay for an apartment until he passed his classes.
"So I have to live here until December?" he asked.
"Yes," I responded.
He couldn't possibly do that. Living here was impossible! He didn't even want to go to school at all.
The situation didn't improve, and when he stormed out the door to go to work, I was left wondering if he would quit school and simply move out.
It's not what I want. I want to help him succeed at college, and I think I'm doing everything that I can toward that.
He came home last night after I was in bed. No one has talked about what will happen, what his future holds.
Right now, we're all kind of waiting to see what happens.
I'm sure I broke my parents' hearts when I was his age. I was rude and entitled. I traveled to faraway cities to live a couple of times.
To adults, it seems silly that he wouldn't take the offer of college and get a degree to be whatever he wants to be.
Last night, I was talking to a student, probably in his mid 20s, who told me he is having trouble getting to class because he has to take care of his 1-year-old daughter, and the girl's mother wants nothing to do with her. We talked about how difficult it is to go to school while raising a family and working.
He told me his 17-year-old sister thought she didn't want to go to college, and he was trying to convince her to do it now.
"You know," he said, "there's some people who can't learn from watching other people. They have to make those mistakes themselves before they learn."
And that rang true for me.
In the midst of my broken heart, in the midst of standing fast to the rules we've set, in the midst of loving my son in spite of his misguided path as he grows up, I know I have to let him make his own way and hope that I'm around when he's ready to ask for guidance.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tuesday Intros -- The American Lover

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
This collection of short stories, The American Lover by Rose Tremain, has a first story that takes place in 1960s Paris, so, of course, I'm intrigued. But it doesn't start there.
All day long, lying on the sofa in the sitting room of her parents' London mansion flat, Beth hears the clunk of the elevator doors opening and closing.
Sometimes, she hears voices on the landing -- the people arriving or departing -- and then the long sigh of the elevator descending. She wishes there were no people, no elevator, no pain. She stares at the old-fashioned room. She stares at her crutches, propped up against a wing chair. In a few month's time she is going to be thirty. 
I don't know. Sounds kind of like first-world problems -- in her parents' mansion flat and she hates everything. I hope I enjoy the book and that the main character isn't a whiner. The cover is striking, but apparently it only came with the hardcover book.  
Looking forward to everyone else's books today.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Dreaming of France -- Cassis

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

While we were in the South of France in March, we took a day trip to Cassis. It's one of those villages that you hear about where people are charmed. Surprise, we were too.
When we arrived, we learned that market day was in full swing. The streets are narrow on normal days and blocked off on market days. We parked in the municipal lot and wound our way to the center of town to the tables and tents of the market.
I stopped at an adorable toy store and bought a pop-up puppet for my friend Emily's new baby. The puppet was Puss-in-Boots. I didn't take a picture of the puppet, but I did snap a photo of this adorable ride-on toy that looks like a lady bug.

Here's a picture from the edge of the market, which was fine, because we didn't need to do any food shopping any way. You can see the lovely pale-colored buildings and the distinctive trees trimmed closely, their leave not out yet.

And just a few steps from the market was the harbor. 

After walking down to the beach, we returned to the buildings you can see behind the boats and we had a cup of coffee. 

If you look closely,  you can see me and Earl in this picture. He's reflected in my sunglasses. Also, notice the cliff behind me.
Everywhere we turned the scenery was beautiful.
Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. Please leave a comment and visit each other's blogs, too, so you can get your fix of France dreams.
Hope everyone is having a sun-shine filled July. I'm hooking up with Paris in July as the month sadly comes to an end. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Happy Endings

Yesterday I shared the intro to The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain, and I hinted that the ending would be dismal because it is written by a Frenchman.
That is what I've come to expect with French books and movies. They don't count on a happy ending.
My family jokes that a movie may be considered a French comedy if only a few people die.
So imagine my surprise when I finished the book and found an untypical ending for a French book. Quite optimistic, actually.
The author photo from Amazon
And that surprised me.
So I can happily recommend that you read The Red Notebook. The writing, even though translated into English, is quite beautiful. The plot is simple but compelling.
Even more surprising, I received an email from the author today.  Antoine Laurain had seen my post:
Sometimes i dropped an eye on the web. I've seen your post about my novel the red notebook. Thank's a lot... I'm not like usual french writer, it's a good ending story ;)
So that's two pleasant revelations that I received yesterday.