If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Monday, October 10, 2011

Angel's Senior Year

It is hard to believe but Angel is a senior in college and will be graduating next May.  When he was a senior in high school I was prepared for a change in his behavior and in our relationship.  From what I had heard, senior year was when he would begin to pull away and there would be some negative behavior/interactions around that process.  It didn't happen.  It didn't happen during the gap year that followed either.

What did happen (for those of you who didn't live through it with me) was he pretty much disappeared the day he went to college.  We barely heard from him (when we did it was because he needed help) and he rarely came home.  In fact he didn't even make it home for Christmas (or the entire winter break) his first year.  He did come home that first summer but it wasn't a happy time for any of us.

At the end of his sophomore year he moved out of the dorms and into his own place.  This was a great move and for the past year and a half we have had a nice but not terribly close relationship. We occasionally visit him and he comes here on holidays.  We communicate by phone, email, and text. Three quarters of the time we hear from him because he needs help (mostly money) but there are some conversations that are purely for enjoyment.  I can't say I love it but I'm used to it.  I miss him but I'm used to missing him.

This year is a little different.  He is coming up to see us for fall break.  He was up a few weeks ago and tried to come up last week.  He and I have had a couple of multiple-hour phone calls and I hear from him several times a week.  He has also been calling and relying on his father more than ever before. Most of this renewed attention is because he needs help accomplishing some big tasks this year.  He has a research project for his capstone course and he's been picking my brain on methodology.  He is also looking into graduate school and preparing for a cross-country bike ride that includes fund-raising for a worthy cause.

He told me he likes to come here for the weekend because it is quiet, he gets a lot of work done, he saves money and he has a good time.  The last part surprised me a bit.

He is anxious.  Finishing college is a big step (and particularly scary in the current economic condition).  I think part of him is ready to be done and the other part thinks he's not ready for the world.  He really wants to be ready.  He's making a big push to get himself there this year.  What is interesting is that in pushing forward he has begun to reach back.

I expected the adolescent years to be the push/pull of dependence and independence but it seems there is a fair amount of it happening in the young adult years.  I remember being on my own at his age.  My family was not in a position to provide a safety net in case I couldn't make it or a safe haven for when I was feeling anxious and overwhelmed.  I'm happy to be able to do that for him and I'm enjoying his company while I have it. 

1 comment:

Annie said...

My son is a senior in high school. Last year, he definitely seemed to be pulling away in many ways; but he has surprised me this year. He seems willing to go out to dinner with us, sometimes even suggesting it! That may not sound like much, but it is. I'm hoping, hoping, hoping- that as he moves on to college, we will be able to forge- continue- shape- a close/closer relationship. It seems so mixed, so much. You also give me hope, that if there is some pulling away, there will be times of coming together.