Friday, November 03, 2017

Why S L O W is also GOOD

When my son was preparing for college, we were all excited about the possibilities. 

I wasn't overly concerned about his ability to take care of himself. He could do his own laundry, he could cook, he knew how to tip the pizza delivery person. So, partially because he seemed fairly self-sufficient, I felt like he could handle life at college. This is partially because I wanted to feel that way. I wanted to see him succeed, but I also wanted to feel as if he was just like any other kid going off to college. I wanted him to have a great time, and enjoy meeting new people, and learn a variety of things from a bunch of different classes. Most of all, I wanted him to enjoy that feeling of being in charge of your own life.

Well, if you read my post from yesterday, you know that he wasn't ready for college.

His therapist tried to tell me this. She really did. She tried to suggest that maybe taking a year off from college might be a good idea. Whenever she suggested this idea, all I could see was my son having an entire year of not socializing. No interaction with other people his age, doing fun things. Honestly, I was blinded by the thought of this lack of interaction. I was afraid it would halt his progression.

My son's therapist also suggested the idea of community college. I also ignored this idea. I had recently taken a class at our local community college, and I wasn't all that impressed with the other participants of the class. They may have been smart kids, but they weren't social with each other. Nobody talked to each other, in a class of at least 20 students. It seemed weird to me. Of course, I didn't stop to think that it was a class on Macroeconomics, and maybe that wasn't the most social of subjects. So, based on that very limited experience, I considered community college for my son -- and tossed that idea rather quickly.

Now, three years later, I can see that my son's therapist had more experience than I had, and she knew what I didn't understand -- that people with ADD or autism or any other myriad types of learning issues often need to take a little longer to mature. This extended maturity window applies to many college students, not just my son. I talked with my other two kids, and they had lots of peers who took five or six years to finish their bachelor's degree. It's common, and we as parents need to take a step back and realize that maybe it's preferable to take longer to accomplish some goals.

I have one friend who has a son who is just now finishing his bachelor's ... and he's 30. He had several missteps along the way, but once it was HIS DECISION to go back to college, he nailed it. He was able to get much better grades, and he was able to figure out exactly what he wanted to do. It's hard to hear that concept, that sometimes people need a decade to figure out life ... but isn't that better, to take a long time, than to never figure things out at all?

So, my husband and I watch our son, and we see progression. He won't have his associates until he's maybe 22 ... but it's PROGRESS. He looks happy. He's going to community college, and it's a good one, and he's made friends. Ya know what? There are LOTS of guys just like him, almost identical to him, at his school. He watches those students, and notices that some do better than he does, but a lot of them are struggling. He also notices that his professors "get" him there, and they are helpful. He is also, now, figuring out what his direction may be, what he enjoys, and that times when he fails on a test are followed by times that he gets one of the highest scores in the class. You just never know what a person can accomplish ... and it may not be the path you expected or wanted for your son or daughter. But if they can just keep working, and slowly making progress, that's a beautiful thing.

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