It is time for another Tommy update! I’m so excited for him, and scared (I’m a mother, after all), and proud, and I’m actually having all the feelings that surround a child leaving the fold of our secure little nest and venturing into the brave new world... or in this case, a bigger nest, with supports that will hopefully help him succeed. Baby steps. Forward motion. Training means a longer step away this time.
Tommy finished up his life skills course at the end of September. Woodrow Wilson Workforce is a school/ training center in Fishersville, Virginia, and the people in this facility work diligently to provide people with learning challenges, developmental delays and disabilities learn a trade or a business enabling them to find meaningful work and become more independent. They do in-depth evaluations for the clients to match them with work they like, and work that they can do. Tommy successfully qualified for trying out business technology! He started this week.
So, independence is always on the forefront of my mind with Tommy. He definitely needs prompts and reminders for everything. Last week was a little crazy trying to get him packed and ready for school while I caught the lovely flu (again), and the schedule of my events in my cute little planner came to a screeching halt. However, soldier on, we must. We got his wardrobe taken care of early in the week (a silver lining of having a kid like Tommy is that as long as he has t-shirts and lounge pants, he’s not needy in the retail department). We did get him some new jeans and long sleeved shirts. He protested, but Fishersville is in the mountains and I’m sure they get more snow and cold than we do in Stafford. Also, new shoes, for the same reason. This is a kid that will wear flip-flops twenty-four-seven, if allowed. His insistence? A fedora. So not practical, but that is his choice for flair, I suppose!
The other parts of packing him up and preparing him for training is the stuff that is hard and harder. Did I tell him enough how special he is? Did I remind him to treat everyone with respect? Did I tell him how to handle difficult situations? Will he stand up for the right things, and remember to report the wrong things? These are the things that keep us, as parents, up at night. Sometimes up all night, every night, for several nights in a row. I’m just being honest. Well, we packed up and made it to Fishersville right on time on Monday (despite no sleep and a week of having a fever).
He (we) forgot his jacket, hat and gloves. He forgot his learner’s permit (Tommy!). “I packed my wallet!!” he exclaimed. Well... where is your permit? He thinks it is on his desk or in a pair of pants... (sigh). We forgot pens and paper (again). We went to the local Wal-Mart to get the things we forgot that we could get, anyway. We’ll mail him his other things- thank goodness for Virginia weather, because we are experiencing the January thaw even though it hasn’t really frozen yet. We settled Tommy in, got his closet situated and said goodbye.
It isn’t easier, by the way, even though it’s the third time we’ve dropped him off. This growing up stuff is a hard business! I know for me and my husband, we pray for our children to grow and become independent and launch. It’s so, so difficult to smile and let go and hope for the best. Hold onto your littles as long as you can, and then cheer on your bigs as they start their own adventures in this big crazy world. Love fierce. Teach them gently. Be consistent. Let them go. Let them fall. Help them back up again. It’s tough stuff, isn’t it?
In two months, I’ve now had two kids do big launch events. It’s all good, hard, and beautiful. I’m exhausted, and a little excited for the continued adventures of parenthood, and it will be good, I think. I trust.
We talked to Tommy last night, and despite a very quiet roommate who seems to be into sports (Tommy is anti-sports), he seems to be doing well. He likes being on his own again. Orientation went well, and classes start this week. “I’m fine, Mom, really. And I’ll remember to shower,” he said, “I love you.”
Oh, my heart.
So, keep calm, parents! Love, let go, and parent on!