This was originally posted on the now defunct Chicago Moms Blog.
My son has been going to high school. He gets up every morning, does his routine and goes to class. He hears and sees his sister whirling dervishly around the house, and spouting words like "deadlines", "recommendations" and "essays". It has had no affect on him. When asked what he plans to do after graduation, his eyes kind of glaze over and he launches into a brief nondenial denial that he has pieced together from things he's overheard.
"I'm not quite sure yet, but I'll probably take a few community college classes, do some volunteer work and get some kind of part time job. I'm just not ready to think beyond that right now."
It's a reasonable statement, I suppose, except that he doesn't really understand what any of that would actually entail, and he has done nothing to find out more information.
I have been a nervous wreck about him, but getting one kid ready for college has taken a lot of energy, so mostly I've been working with the girl, fretting about the boy, and feeling guilty all around. And hyperventilating my way through sleepless nights. And yelling gently hinting things like: "You are not living in my house for the rest of your life," and "Playing video games is not a viable career choice."
Then, one day, I listened - really listened - to my son's press conference statement. Especially the last sound bite. "I'm just not ready to think beyond that right now." And I realized that 18 is not a magic number; it's just a number, just the next birthday in what we hope will be a long line of birthdays to come. And that, in and of itself, is a miracle.
Born at 24 weeks and just 1.5 pounds, we didn't really think he would see any birthdays. Both twins were significantly delayed. Just to put things in perspective, he was born November 17 and came home from the hospital on March 27; he walked at 23 months; he talked at 4.5 years old. He weighed just 27 pounds when he started kindergarten, and 47 pounds when he started middle school.
Now, he's 18. He has finally caught up physically. He is intellectually very bright, but has a short-term memory deficit, a sequencing disorder (part of his learning disabilities) and some ADD issues. He will be graduating with his sister and his peers in June. He is among the kindest people I have ever met.
This spring break, we are visiting Beacon College, the only accredited college offering BA and AA degrees for students with learning disabilities, ADHD and gifted LD. My mom heard about the school and sent him the link. I suggested that we could visit, but he went to the college resource center at school and he made the appointment for us to tour the campus. Will this be the right place for him? Who knows. Will he be ready to go in the fall, or even the spring? I doubt it.
Why I ever thought that 18 would be a magic number, that he would suddenly start to reach milestones on someone else's schedule instead of his own, is only proof that I'm the one still suffering from developmental delays. My son is right on schedule. So, what comes next? I know what we're doing for spring break. I'm just not ready to think beyond that right now.
When Susan isn't worried about developmental delays, student loans and sending her kids to college, she can be found writing at Two Kinds of People and on her freelance writing Website, www.bearman.us. This is an original Chicago Moms Blog post.