Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Fear and Self-Loathing in Suburbia

It's so much harder to handle disappointment when it happens to your children. There's a crashing of emotions - sadness, anger, worry - you want to beat someone up or pay someone off. Here in our house we're living through C.A.H. College Application Hell. It was hell to get the applications done and now it's hell to get them places we want our child to go and where he wants to go.

On the one hand, I'm shocked that he was rejected by not one but two colleges. He's perfect, isn't he? Look at him smile. There was this one time he got a great grade on his report card. And he was once nice to his sister. He occasionally does what I tell him to do. He tries awfully hard...sometimes.

On the other hand, maybe the bad stuff showed. Maybe they knew that he IMed his friends instead of studying for physics. Perhaps they found out that he rarely takes out the garbage or remembers that it's anyone's birthday except his own.

I know the truth. It's subjective and yet it's not. The people judging whether my child is worthy of their school are just like me and my husband. Most also have children. I'm sure they sit there with their stacks of piles not really caring specifically about my kid and the hopes and dreams that are stuffed into his file. Like any of us, it's a job and on certain days they get to give people good news and other days, not so good. Sort of like a college oncologist, but this isn't life-threatening. I know it feels like it to my son. Like a death-sentence sure to force him to bag groceries for eternity.

In my modest bit of wisdom and my relatively short life (44 years), I know that this won't be his only disappointment and this won't spell the end of my son's career before it starts. Perhaps he's not destined for greatness. That's OK. I'd settle for happiness and productivity.

Right now he's just feeling loads of self-doubt, unhappiness, confusion, anger and desperation. It's hard for him to get his head around what's happening. Meanwhile, I try and be there for him. I cook him favorite foods, ease up on the nagging and let him mope...for a while. Eventually the day will come, perhaps tomorrow, where much like Cher I'll have to look him in the eyes and scream: "SNAP OUT OF IT!"

He's a lucky kid, even though he doesn't feel that way now. I want to tell him about the starving kids in _________ (fill in third-world country here) who don't even get to go to high school, let alone college. The kids who have the life span of an insect with barely a roof over their heads. There are kids in _________ (fill in giant city here) who live in horrible neighborhoods who are afraid to leave their houses and go to school. They'd do anything to even think about college.

Of course I won't say all these things to him, because they'd sound hollow and would be meaningless coming from me. Isn't everything? From a mother's mouth to a child's deaf ears. If a mom speaks in a room full of children, does she make a sound? OK, I'll stop. Needless to say, I'm not the person that he wants to hear. He wants to hear a college tell him that he's good enough to go there. He wants to know that he is worth something.

And so while he worries and doubts himself, I pick up his clothes and bake a batch of brownies. It's the least and pretty much the only thing I can do.


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