During one of my twice daily round-trips to Tommy’s school last week, the normal light-speed of the Parkway was interrupted by a car that belonged on back roads with the other people who drive terrible. After cutting me off and causing another car so much fear that they blasted their horn, the very bad driver proceeded to travel 20 miles slower than every other car on the road. Because of one car, the traffic on the Parkway went from smooth to more congested than my father’s pre-CABG arteries. Since we were going to the same destination, I was trapped behind the inexplicably awful driver. She came to a complete stop while turning to enter the campus. Traffic in both directions on the two lane road came to a screeching halt. I guess she was unhappy with the turn, because she suddenly backed up, oblivious to the the cars in her path.
“Tommy, I think she’s going to hit us.”
“I know her. She’s in my class.”
“Is she on drugs?”
“No. She’s always bossing people around and ignores people who try to talk to her.”
“Maybe she has Aspergers. It would explain her driving technique.”
“No Aspergers. Just an a**.”
This gets filed under “first use of colorful metaphors in front of mom” as well as “properly executed joke.” Although neither is included in traditional memory books, both are significant.
Tommy is taking a political science class this semester. I have avoided discussing the class with him, because he needs to learn concepts instead of opinions. That was a mistake. Today, he made a post on his blog that is really a cry for help with his first politics paper. Here is an excerpt: “The reason that the south always votes republican goes back to the period of Reconstruction after the Civil War. It was LBJ who signed the Civil Rights bill. He was a republican himself, and since then, the republicans have pretty much always had the black vote. The white vote is generally republican, mostly because Southerners tend to vote the way their parents vote, which is almost always republican.”
After I removed my jaw from the keyboard, I asked Tommy the source of his information. He “just knows” that it is true. There’s only one person who has been discussing politics with Tommy this semester. Politically, that person is the polar opposite of me. I think it’s safe for me to discuss politics with Tommy now.
Today was Tommy’s first day at Pellissippi State. We’re treating it like his freshman year of college, even though he spent a year at LMU. Well, Tommy is treating it like his freshman year. Everyone else in the family is prepared for one very exhausting semester of push, push, pushing Tommy to act like a student. Last year, Tommy ended up hiding in his dorm room all day and playing video games all night with the other not-going-to-class freshmen. It was a very expensive year of the summer camp Tommy never experienced. Tommy made friends and had a great time. I saved a message in my phone from one of the many days when I sent him a message to check on him. “I’m good. Normal. Happy.” He was happy because he was hiding in his room instead of going to class. This summer, he spent an entire day at Vocational Rehabilitation for aptitude/career testing. The results said he would be good at picking locks. Umm, I don’t think so. So, we’re trying college again with a much, much shorter umbilical cord.
During registration, Tommy constantly pointed out the students that he recognized from his high school. After freshman orientation, he told me a dozen things that his guide had told him about the school. When we met with disability services, baby geese waddled by the office window. All last week, we talked about being a good student. Last night, he went to bed early. This morning, he got up and ate breakfast cheerfully. Everything looked promising. After dropping Tommy off for his not too early 9:30 class, Doug and I tersely snapped at each other all day.
I picked Sarah up at the high school and headed to pick Tommy up from the college. Sarah was in an unusually good mood and her details about her day distracted me from my anxiety. We arrived on campus and Tommy texted that he didn’t want my help in the bookstore. I understood that, but sent Sarah in to check on him. They returned to the car and I asked Tommy to tell me about his day. Tommy talked the entire ride home. He told Sarah and I ALL about the cafeteria choices and the quality of the food. It did not fill me with confidence.
“I wasn’t trying to see it, so it was just shiny colors.”
Me: “You won’t find the person you are meant to be with if you never leave the house.”
Tommy: “I’m going to meet someone on WoW.”
Updated with a bonus Tommyism:
Tommy and a friend decided that they were going to a party. I got upset that Tommy couldn’t provide me with an address of his destination. Tommy couldn’t understand why it mattered. “I’m eighteeeen.” I tried to explain to him that going to parties is a new experience for him and that he needed to show responsibility with this new privilege. He gave me the “my mother is weird” look and I made a mental note to revisit the conversation again later. Three hours later, Tommy walked in the front door and handed me a piece of paper. The address of the party he had already been to was printed on the paper. “What? You said you needed the address and now you have it. Why are you looking at me funny?”
Me: “Tommy, do you want to spend the rest of your life just playing WoW in our basement?”
Tommy: “I don’t think you want to know my answer.”
Sarah: “I have NOTHING to wear. I HAVE to have new clothes.”
Noah: “Umm, yeah, I didn’t tell you, but, I, umm, lost a part of my snare drum that you rented.”
Amy: “Where’s the gum I was saving?”
Me: “Where did you leave it?”
Amy: “It was right there. Where Molly is napping.”
Evan: CRASH! “Ow. Ow. Ow.”
Me: pulling the shelf off of him “Where does it hurt?”
Two hours and one trip to Children’s ER later, we have been reassured that he will be fine. They decided against stitches on his cheek.
I can hardly wait for tomorrow.
“I feel like I’m always missing something. I know I can see and hear, but it just feels like everyone else understands what’s happening better than I do.”
Sarah: “It doesn’t matter what YOUR hair looks like.”
Tommy: “Your hair grew a lot last week.”
Me: “No, I just straightened it. It looks shorter when it’s curly.”
Tommy: “You have curly hair?”