Our Youngest Son Graduated from High School – Seven Months Ago

I’m a terrible blogger.

Brandon graduated from high school! Back in May of 2013.

He also graduated with all A’s and B’s – he didn’t have one C on any of his report cards from his four years in high school.

Yay!

The baby has flown the coop … well, the baby is still IN the coop, but he’s definitely starting a new phase of life.

What’s happening with Brandon? I’m glad you asked …

He took a few months off after graduation to slum around the house and spent most of his time with his face buried in his computer monitor. Kevin finally got tired of that and soon “encouraged” (I’d say threaten, but that sounds so harsh, let’s go with encouraged) to get a job. Brandon, being the lucky person that he is, landed the very first job he applied for – in a restaurant.

It’s been a learning experience for him. It’s been a GOOD experience for him. Everything has always come pretty easily for Brandon. He’s a smart cookie and I’ll be honest, I sometimes suspect Lady Luck follows him around occasionally. But working this job has taught him responsibility and to endure uncomfortable situations, whether that stems from co-worker relationships or the physical discomfort of plunging his hands in very hot soapy water and doing dishes … for four hours at a time.

He’s been pretty discouraged and he wanted to quit after only working there for two months. However, I forbid him to quit because HELLO, real life, you don’t quit when things get tough. I did, however, encourage him to apply at other businesses because life is too short to be that unhappy. So he applied at several retail stores (because he’s through with the food industry – I feel his pain – I worked at Wendys for the first seven years of my working career) and surprisingly, hasn’t had one interview. That’s not true, he had one interview at Wal-Mart, but they told him they had already hired someone by the time he showed up. (Which – Hmm – weird. I wonder if they took one look at his scrawny self and thought he was too weak to handle the job? It’s possible because he is “stick boy.”)

So he’s learned, very quickly, that getting a job, under normal circumstances, is not as easy as he thought it was going to be, or as easy as it was when he got this first job. In the meantime, he’s been written up twice at work – mainly because of his attitude. Brandon is very stubborn (guess where he gets that trait – from both me and Kevin, to be honest) and he gets pretty pouty and obstinate whenever he doesn’t want to do something or feels like his performance is sub-par. He’s VERY hard on himself, which to some extent is not necessarily a bad thing, but everyone has to understand and respect his/her physical/emotional limitations. I’ve had several conversations with Brandon about real life and how important it is to take everything in stride and try very hard to take the high road – it’s not always easy. And sometimes, it feels like an impossible task, but he has endured his hardships and I’m not hearing him complain as much, though this is not a job that he will ever grow to LOVE, he has grown to tolerate it. And he’s getting better, and more comfortable, with what he’s doing.

He’s been working for this company for about six months now – it feels WAAAAY longer. Probably to him, too. I’m sure he’s wracking up the moolah because we’re not making him pay any bills for now – he’s saving his money. (I wish we had insisted that Blake get a job after he graduated from high school, but his story will come later).

Bran is also starting a community college this month, too. He’s taking two campus classes and one online class. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles the extra pressure because he’ll be working part-time and going to school part-time. We have told him, in no uncertain terms, that we will pay for his schooling as long as he takes it seriously. The moment he blows it off, he’s paying us back for the classes he blew off and if he wants to go back to school, he has to pay for it himself.

I think that’s a fair deal.

We’ll see how he does.

We’re not MAKING him go to school – this is his choice. We told him that he could continue to work at his minimum-paying job and if he’s okay with living his life from paycheck-to-paycheck and enduring the stress of living life barely scraping by, that’s certainly his choice. But if he’s going to go to school and work toward a long-term career-type of job, he would need to go to school and learn a trade. He wouldn’t necessarily have to go to a four-year college – trade schools are certainly a viable option and especially if they offer an associates degree in the area that interests him – computer animation.

He starts classes in a few weeks. I’ve been encouraging him to buy a laptop so that he can remain on campus after his classes and get his work done. Speaking from experience, it’s REALLY HARD to come home, after class, and be disciplined enough to do homework. I would get home, eat a little something and then get sleepy, because you know, my bed is only a few rooms away, and I would crash and not get my work done until the last minute – I was in a perpetual state of stress the remaining years of my college life.

He’s expressed interest in that option, but we’ll see if he follows through with that. “Laptops are expensive, mom.”

Funny how he’s FINALLY realizing that now that he’s making his own money.

I finally broke down and MADE him buy himself new sneakers and work shoes. He was wearing his old sneakers to work, sneakers that he’s been wearing for the past three years, every day, and that didn’t have one shred of tread on them. When he was coming home with bruises on his arms/elbows and told him he had fallen no less than eight times – EIGHT TIMES – at work due to it being so slippery in the back room, I said enough.

(It’s a miracle he didn’t break an arm – thank you God for watching out for him).

We went to Shoe Carnival and he bought a pair of black heavy duty no-slip, waterproof shoes to wear to work as well as new sneakers. Because he was always getting his sneakers wet at work, they never truly dried out and they started mildewing and smelling up the whole house. They were simply gross. So, he bought new sneakers, too. He’s fallen less since he’s been wearing his work shoes, but he admits it was long overdue and he was glad I made him man up and dole out the money for safety reasons.

Silly boy.

He’s been very responsible. He’s been setting his own alarm and getting himself off to work every day. I usually have no idea when he works until he walks out of his bedroom in his uniform (which consists of a company t-shirts and khaki pants). I’ve been very proud of how responsible he’s been handling this new stress in his life.

It was funny – we went to a band competition back in October and he met up with some of his band buddies who told him that they were going to a big, four-year college and I could tell Brandon felt like he was missing out on something. His buddies are playing in the college band and were telling him what a great time they were having doing it. We had a conversation about that after the competition was over and we were driving back to our hotel (we opted to stay over night as opposed to driving home at 3:00 a.m. – we WON’T be doing that again any time soon – GAH), and I offered to help him enroll at our local four-year college and look into playing for the band if he truly wanted to do that, but after some consideration, he said no, he felt like working at this job was what he wanted to do for now and would slowly ease his way into the college life with his upcoming classes. Plus, he knew how expensive a four-year college was as opposed to the technical school and would prefer to get his required classes out of the way and then perhaps transfer to a four-year college later.

It was a very proud mom moment – we’ve taught him well, apparently. :-)

So that’s where Brandon is right now – on the cusp of starting his life and it’s both exciting, and scary, to stand on the sidelines and wait for the next phase to play out.

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