Friday, September 06, 2013


And back he goes.

His brother is a freshman at a college far away. We made a list and checked it and rechecked it, because anything forgotten has to be mailed, and checked again as we packed the car.

It's a good thing Boo is close because he's resistant to the list and left all sort of things behind -posters, popcorn bowl, foam bed pad. His dad will drop them off sometime this week.

One of the many reasons he chose this school was to get access to a certain famous trumpet instructor. The instructor didn't have room freshman year but promised him a spot sophomore year. Unfortunately, the FTI, an adjunct, was fired by the new department chair the following summer. So now Boo studies with FTI privately whenever the two can arrange a time, at considerable expense to his parents.

His replacement - someone Boo liked and learned from - suffered the same fate the next year and was replaced by someone much less experienced. Boo began to listen to rumblings - the new chairman of the department was behind all this, he was incompetent and useless, etc etc. And then the university - the chairman? who knows? - did something rather stupid and didn't renew the contract of an adjunct who had been there nearly thirty years, a women who was an excellent teacher and a great support to every music student in the program and who, not coincidentally, had been part of organizing a union for adjuncts the previous year. Boo was enraged.

It's a terrible situation. I am appalled at how many people who are instrumental to the department- a huge part of the faculty - are adjuncts. They aren't people who come in to teach a class or two - they are staff who build programs and mentor and launch students and stay twenty-eight years. I tend to be anti-union since I worked in a place where we had to hire contractors to do the work the union staff refused to do. But in this case, I support the union. And I was very happy when the grievance was successful and the long-time instructor was reinstated.

But, well, the whole thing brought some difficult parenting moments. I had in front of me this very vocal and enraged young adult who is social media-savvy but doesn't have great judgment about where and how he expresses his opinion. He doesn't, on his own, see the shades of gray (no, the chairman isn't evil, he is probably dealing with budget issues and someone else's priorities) or work out that insulting things posted about the chairman or administration might offend the very people in positions to get him an internship or job. And he's not that interested in my warnings or opinions, so that was tricky. And he was right to be enraged.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Halfway through college...

It's just that there's so much less to say. At this stage, things don't change as fast as they did during middle and high school, leaving me with the same blog post over and over about successes that are now fairly predictable and a few subtle but intractable deficits. Also, the little ingrate lives in a dorm most the year and isn't around much to provide material. 

But he's home now. He made the dean's list again. Four semesters down, four to go. It's worth posting about, although two years into this I'm all, of course he's doing well academically, did anyone ever think he wouldn't?  

At every stage, I've worried about the next, and then it arrives and everything works out. I keep reminding myself of that and then I remember one of the more loathsome early intervention staff who promised me that kids like Boo, no matter how well they do in other areas, continue to struggle socially and worry that she was right.  

But - but! - there is some good news. Last summer, he couldn't find a job - this summer, he has two, procured entirely on his own. The first is a paying job at a disgusting fast food joint. He doesn't mind the work so far and likes his manager and co-workers. Are they impatient with him? Do they roll their eyes behind his back? I don't know.  I think of what my grandfather told me: it is important that people respect you, but not that they like you.

He also has an internship at a summer music series, so something in his field. That hasn't started yet.
I suppose the lingering worry will always be the social piece. So many loose connections - he's out tonight with a Relay for Life team headed by a college friend and is working out regularly with an old swim team friend - but no tribe.  I know not everyone finds his tribe in high school or college - I thought I had, but I really didn't until well into my 20s - but he would love that.

Happy summer.