I dislike this time of year. It’s not because summer is waning and, here in the Midwest at least, leaves are starting to fall from the trees. It’s not because summer hours at work are drawing to a close (not that I have much opportunity to use them anyway). It’s because I feel like such a beast being resentful of all of the pictures of my friends’ children going off to college.
It’s petty, I know. But it’s a reminder of what will never happen for Tim, and it starts the cavalcade of mourn for what Tim will likely never be able to experience:
Tim “graduated” from high school in June. He could have gone to his life skills program another year, but frankly, there wasn’t much else they could teach him about taking the bus and grocery shopping. It felt like we were warehousing him six hours a day. Sure, Tom liked the break of not having his shadow with him all the time, but it was getting harder and harder to justify why he had to go, particularly on those mornings when he really didn’t want to. So he got his certificate of completion in the mail, I ordered a graduation tassel for him on Amazon, and with no pomp or ceremony, his education was complete.
There’s no supportive housing available for Tim in the entire state of Illinois, so instead of shopping for what he will need for his dorm room, we are redecorating his bedroom, with the caveat that money won’t be spent until he can be “grown up” and prove he can keep it neat. It’s taken all summer, but he’s finally doing fairly well in that department, so we’ve been scouring Craigslist for some furniture and pinning pictures of what he likes on Pinterest.
Instead of buying books, we are looking for animal shelters and dog kennels that will let Tim volunteer a few hours a week so he has a “job”. I’ve written to several doggy daycare places in our area, and none have responded. Most rescues don’t have a shelter so there’s no where for him to go to volunteer. Even our county animal control doesn’t have a kennel. So, for now, he’s helping his dad with yard work and chores around the house.
The good news is I found out that Tim is eligible for a card from the State that gives him free rides on all mass transit in our area. So we’re not looking for a car that is reliable enough to take him around campus. Instead we’re applying for free ride passes from the CTA and Metra. He takes the train, by himself now, every few weeks down to the city to visit a friend he made at his life skills program.
My friends’ posts reek of the joy and promise of their children’s bright futures. I can’t even give my son find a viable reason to get out of bed in the morning. But I refuse to believe this is all there is for him. Once my pity party is over, I will re channel my jealousy into finding a way for Tim to share his passion for art, animals, and music with the world in a way that enriches his life as well as those with whom he interacts.
But for right now, please bear with my frown when you share your precious photograph.
Read all of Chrisa’s writings on raising a teen and