Right to Brag

college 2This post is in response to a Daily Post prompt: “Tell us about something that a person close to you has done that has made you really unabashedly proud.”

Okay, well this one was not hard. It’s the turn around of my youngest son, Danny.

Danny is the youngest of my three kids and was a happy baby. He loved having an older brother and sister and they loved him. I was a stay-at-home mom and with my depression, we did a lot of stuff together. We’d hang out in the bed and tell stories and play. We’d walk to the park and swing for two hours. We were low key when Danny was a baby.

When Danny started pre-school we had trouble. The teacher told me he wasn’t “ready”. I knew he was as ready as the other two had been. What she meant was that he wasn’t cooperative. I moved him to a Montessori school where he had more freedom. It was better but Danny never quite got the hang of group discipline. He wasn’t in the teachers’ faces, but he had other things on his mind. Once he started elementary school, ick! As a former teacher, it was hard to hear that my youngest wasn’t making it, behavior wise. A couple of teachers even implied that I wasn’t a good parent. I didn’t believe that, because my older two were perfectly behaved.

Danny got involved in Cub Scouts and we were the den parents. Since we were right on top of him, he behaved. He thrived in Scouts, and even though we had a few bumps, he did receive his Eagle. That’s something to brag about right there.

Danny struggled in school…his grades were always okay, but forget the behavior. He was finally diagnosed as ADD. (You’ll notice there’s no “H” in there…he was never hyperactive.) We put him on medication and he did improve.

After the hell of junior high, he went to high school. It was an incredible grind. The classes were tough. This was the kind of high school where everyone went to college. Danny was working hard for C’s. He was no genius, but he was smart enough to pull B’s if he made the effort. He didn’t. He  just never bought into the educational system.

He somehow got involved with pot. Big surprise. We didn’t know. Then he swiped two Klonopin from my purse, took them, and went to school. His teacher had the janitor haul him to the office and they called my husband. The principal gave him two days of suspension and mandatory drug classes. Things were looking bleak. All of this was also not exactly helping my mental health.

Danny had a friend going to an alternative high school and he started pressuring us about it. It was an online approach…they had teachers there to help you…and you only went for half the day. Reluctantly we agreed. I feared he would drop out entirely if we didn’t let him move. He started there and the principal, Mrs. Reston, was an angel. She loved Danny and bent over backwards to help him. He had his share of poor behavior there but he knew his limits with her. He limped along and finally graduated.

It was the most meaningful and beautiful graduation ceremony I have ever been to. I never thought I’d see him walk across that stage.

About this time, Danny made friends with an absolute pothead. This kid talked Danny into moving out and in with him. Against our wishes, he moved, took his bed and computer, and worked at McDonalds. He rode the bus back and forth and smoked a LOT of pot. Sometimes he ran out of money and we’d take him to the grocery store. His dad was SO angry at him for all of this. I was despondent. No one wants their kid to grow up to be a pot smoker.

I guess things went south with the roommate. He brought a girlfriend to live in the apartment and it got crowded. He stopped speaking to Danny. Danny had to hang out in his room all the time. He got lonely. He was finally told he had to move out. We heard all of this from his older brother. We felt pretty bad.

My husband and I talked and talked. He was still pretty angry with Danny. But we came up with a plan.

We took Danny out for lunch. He really did look depressed. We made him an offer. He could come home to live and try to go to community college. We would give him a car to get around. We’d provide everything including a hot dinner. (This brought a smile.) We would pay for school, books, and tutoring. He would not have to work. His job would be to go to school. We’d give him $60 a week to spend. It really was a sweet deal.

For his part, Danny had to maintain a 3.0 GPA. He had to let us know when he was struggling and agree to go to tutoring. He had to do some chores at home. There was to be no pot or booze or police. (At least around the house.) He had to have polite behavior around us.

Honestly, we didn’t think Danny could give up the pot. We offered to get him any help he wanted but he said no, he could do it.

So he moved home. And we signed him up for one class in summer school. He got a B. He kept moving through it semester by semester and with summer in between. He has not had a “C” the whole time. It’s been amazing. Apparently, he has grown out of his ADD.

Now he has had a wonderful math tutor the whole time. She is 67, taught high school math for a million years, and does not mess around. Danny loves her. He texts her after every test to let her know how it went.

He’s got some nice friends. He makes music on his computer and plays computer games and studies. He goes to concerts once in a while. I assume he probably smokes some pot, but he never looks high, and I don’t smell it on him or in his car.

He’s not too good at doing the house chores. We’ve had a few “discussions” about that.

Danny turns 21 in one month. He’s got two years of college under his belt and will be transferring to the state university to finish his degree in Applied Computing. We live close enough to the university so that he can live at home and drive. Since we don’t have to pay for housing, we can pay cash for his tuition and he’ll get out of school with no loans. He is a lucky kid.

So there you have it…my unashamed bragging. Thanks for reading. I really enjoyed writing this one. Miracles do happen.


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