Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ne'er do well


The other night we were listening to my parents talking about their other grandkids, my nieces and nephews. The two oldest are boys and are having some trouble adjusting to the adult world.

One of them graduated, barely, from high school last year, and the second one actually failed to graduate from high school this year because he didn't complete a necessary project. This boy has always relied upon his charm to get by, but this time it did not work. (He did manage to cash the check i sent him for graduation, but he did not manage to thank me.) He also got fired from two jobs this summer for not showing up.

At one point in the conversation the Mister called him a ne'er-do-well. That bothered me, so i brought it up later, when the parents were gone.

I think there are many opportunities to start over and get it right. I have done it myself a few times. Life is not ruined because you screw up when you are 18 and don't get into the right college.

My first college career was completely wasted (and i do mean wasted as i went to college in the 70s). I just went because i didn't know what else to do and my parents would pay. I would have been better served by taking a few years off and working at some minimum wage job. That would have matured and motivated me like nobody's business.

The second time i went to college, 10 years later, i started completely over with algebra 101 and worked my way up the chain to calculus at a local community college. I ended up graduating with an electrical engineering degree with honors after transferring to a 4 year college. (Note to mom, i AM good at math.)

And then 4 years later, when the Mister decided he loved someone else and after spending 3 years at home with Em, i started over again as a temp worker at the job i quit 11 years later as a manager of an entire group. (Lots of great temp jokes ensued from this position: In many states it's legal to kill a temp, and (from Dilbert) Temps are the people that you don't make eye contact with in the halls.)

I am the queen of starting over, and
right now i have an excellent life. I did get the Mister to retract the ne'er-do-well label.

There are some mistakes that will haunt you the rest of your life, but not these simple immature ones.

28 comments:

daufiero said...

Adopt me?

What's this we're looking at today? Are those bug wings? (Thank God not something else from the Asian market)

Despite my dour demeanor, I'm really quite the optimist. I sure as hell am counting on starting anew, again.

antonia said...

As soon as I started reading, I thought, no, these young chaps haven't messed it up yet.

Ian completed four first years of different degree courses. Never got beyond a first year, never graduated, went to some great parties, and has sorted it out now with a Sensible Job and the rest. He always maintains that youth is there to be pissed away and messed up: it's the best time to do it.

I like the "wasted college career" pun. I had one of those.

onetallmomma said...

It is so easy to slap labels on the the young, to write them off if they don't follow the accepted path.

You are right. Life is a long journey and almost all errors in judgment can be overcome with hard work and desire.

urban-urchin said...

If it were true that life is mapped out by the choices and actions you make in college then I would be totally lost. My first year was a total bust and then I spent the next 4 (yep on the 5 year plan) trying to get my GPA up. Along the way I have changed direction so many times, moved around the world etc. Life would be boring as hell if my character had been completely formed at 20.

Josephine said...

You are completely right.

18 is so very, very young. I think adults forget just how much they did not understand about life when they themselves were 18.

I don't even remember being 18, that's how young it is...

marian said...

I TOTALLY agree. Some of the most talented and successful people on this planet were complete screw-ups at that age. It's very hard to parent kids like that and continue to have faith in them, but it's worthwhile to try.

Tracy said...

I made many bad choices when I was younger as well. Some that I am deeply ashamed of because I really disappointed those in my family who had faith in me. So I always hope that a person can turn things around for themselves and I have seen it happen often.

Having said that though, I have seen that NOT happen so many times also. For example, my sister has had more second chances than anyone I have ever known and has failed to take advantage of any of them. It so depends on the individual and whether they "get" it or not. It's like walking a tightrope for parents too, how to help but not too much and having child to handle the consequences rather than fixing their problems.

Not sure if this makes sense. I think I am a cautious optimist.

meno said...

de, of course we'll adopt you, and you can share a room w/a 15 yo. Those are bug wings that are caught in the blinds in my bathroom. I got a new camera and was trying out the macro feature.

antonia, no, they haven't messed up yet, but the Mister is one of those people who went to college right out of HS and got a job in his field and has been there ever since and has done really well. So i had to explain it to him, although you think he would have learned this watching me.

onetallmamma, and those labels can sometimes stick and do great harm.

urban-urchin, me too. I also was on the five year plan for my first college career, and then ended up with a useless degree anyway. So, has beta blogger fixed the error of its ways? Is it safe to give in to the invitation to use it yet?

josephine, 18, so so so long ago, and as i look back on who i was then, it seems so unformed, still looking around to see who i should be and trying out different mes.

marian, i think about those people when i am describing myself as a late bloomer. There's mostly always time to turn in a new direction.

tracy, you make perfect sense. That is so sad about your sister. I wonder if she thinks that it's random bad things happening to her, or if she accepts her role in her life. I hate it when people don't think of themselves as having the choice to change.

Caro said...

Wow! Every day we are given the chance to start over, to undo the past, to challenge that wich we were conditioned to believe about ourselves. We all have different rhythms and the contents of our souls and minds don't necessarily meet the standards our crazy world imposes upon us. 18 in this day and age is not what it used to be. I wouldn't go back if they paid me.I am glad to know these boys have an aunt such as you. Someone who sees beyond the failures...

Mama P said...

Okay, so I'm confused. Your husband left you for another woman for a while and now makes a comment about an 18 year old messing up? Did I read that wrong? THAT is a good blog. Though totally none of my biz. But you wrote it, or I just read something wrong. My point? I love me a good dishy story if you're comfy sharing. And if not, tell me to fuck off. That's fine, too.

meno said...

caro, I wouldn't go back either. Just the thought makes me shudder. Although i wouldn't mind having those 18 year old knees again.

mamap, no need to fuck off, go and read my August 6 post, i talk about it a bit there. And over time, as the spirit moves me, i will write about that part of my life again. It's really all too much for me to tackle at once. Just know that the effects are painful and permanent. And looked at from your perspective, it WAS an odd thing for the Mister to say. But he was just trying to be all "cluck. cluck, ain't it awful" with my parents and it was a casual comment. It would have gone by without note had it not bothered me and we hadn't talked about it later.

meno said...

oh, sorry Mamap it's august 4th. I'd put in a link but i'm not at home and i'm too lazy and it's raining and.....

Holly Capote said...

meno, I love how you respond to your readers. And you respond to so many. You are generous and present with your fans and I treasure such magnanimity.

As far as transformation, as a story isn't effective without transformation (Ask any editor. Sans transformation, there's no point.), so too with us.

As regards your ex, I pity the fool who would leave you. I pity him.

marshamlow said...

I feel that many parents whose children go to school with mine are in panic mode right now, afraid of a slight mistep. The teachers, principal everything is worded in a way that totally sounds like the world will end and you will become a dirty bum if you aren't perfect. Instead of pushing my daughter I am trying to be the voice of reason, who says it is all choices, different paths. Sometimes I wonder if I am doing the right thing, by not trying to push her to be the very best she can be, and instead stepping back and saying no worries. hakuna matata.

meno said...

holly, thank you for the compliment. I know that i like to be at least acknowledged when i make a comment, so i assume the same applies to others. Also, to clear things up, i am still married to my first husband, so there ain't no ex, but it has not always been wedded bliss.

marsha, i LOATHE that kind of crap. Parenting should not be a competitive sport. I refused to worry about what pre-school Em got in to, and if she will get into the "best" college. Blah. We can't all be the best, and i hate to see parents trying to shove their kids into places that they don't fit. Then it's more about gratifying the parent's egos than about taking good care of the child.
Gee, i think you hit a nerve. Sounds like you are doing fine.

Holly Capote said...

As far as gaining entry to the best preschool, the best grade school, the best high school, the best college, I think a lot of the very best work is done by people far from the flock: the ba-a-a-d freaky sheep shaking their wool at the world. I'm not suggesting that being the freak is easy. I think most freaks long for the wooly warmth of the herd, but if you live in the herd, you live in the box. How can one think outside the box when one's been boxed their whole ding-dong life?

A little off-topic, but when someone suggests that they think outside the box, I think, "Not a chance, Charlie. If you truly did, you'd truly know how dangerous that is and you'd have learned to not warn folks, but to bushwhack 'em."

Sorry for my marital muddlement, meno.

Mignon said...

Hey! I was an engineer too! And good at math! But I've been an overachiever since the day I was born (exactly on time and slept through the night every day of my life until my own little monsters were born not on-time at all and not good sleepers at all) so I can't speak for the second chances thing. I could give you an anecdote that tells what idiots 18-year-old boys are across the board, but that's no secret. I cross my fingers for your nephew and shake my finger at The Mister (for many different reasons, apparently!).

Mama P said...

Okay, now I get it. It's odd, because I started reading your blog with the very next post and never looked back, but now I'm clued in. Man, that's rough. I can totally see why it's something you might never get over. When I was first married to Rex, I went to marital therapy because I was so pissed off. I had been writing for great money on TV and had this handsome guy and a great wedding and then the money stopped and he changed completely. Another post on my site. My point? I love my husband to pieces now, but if I had to go through all this crap with him, and THEN find out he cheated on me? I would probably forgive him like you did yours, but I'd be pissed for a LONG TIME. You ROCK!!!!!!!!

Maggie said...

Meno, if we were all labeled by our actions at the age of say, 18 to 25, what we would have to live with for the rest of our lives! That would make me things I just can't repeat - let's just say the queen of ne'er do well...Thank god beginning again is an option.

Mom101 said...

Amen for second chances. My own sigOth didn't go to college, which puts him in the very esteemed company of Bill Gates. It's not to say he never will though. Life ain't over til it's over, right?

Thanks for the comment at my place - and for the haunting photo of pork uteri that will torment my dreams for a long time.

Jennifer said...

If I didn't know better, I'd say maybe you wrote this post for my eyes to read.

Thanks for this, even though I'm sure it wasn't intended that way. It hit a spot, regardless.

amusing said...

Starting over.
You have to be ready.
You have to be strong.
Somedays I'm not either one.
Those days you'll find me in bed with the covers over my head.

meno said...

holly, baaa. Very apt analogy. I long to be in the flock where my fellow sheepies are wearing glasses and doing the crossword puzzle.

mignon, you geek you! That's very cool. Not all of us need a second chance, but there is comfort in knowing that there is such a thing for the rest of us.

mamap, eagerly awaiting the post about your early marriage years. I guess i can say i've forgiven him, but i haven't forgotten. Thanks for the compliment because it was a horrible time. And we're still here.

maggie, that is the truth.

mom101, although you would have to hold a gun to my head to get ME to go back to school, for those who want to, i will encourage them all the way. You are welcome, glad you liked the uteri. Wonder if i could make a greeting card from that picture? You know, to give someone as a get well from a hysterectomy. Or maybe not. Thanks for coming by.

jennifer, i wrote this, and then within a few hours i was reading your post. I too was struck by the similarities at the time. You are welcome, if it helped at all, i am glad.

amusing, yeah, you have to be ready, but sometimes other people force you to start over when you are not. Then you have to become ready, whether you want to or not. Damn it! (Bed hiding, it works.)

Bob said...

I waited until today to comment again, is it safe for Y chromosomes around here yet? (crickets chirping)

My son is a late bloomer, some people might be tempted to call him a ne'er do well. He's pretty smart but he failed out of college during his 2nd semester. That was a year & a half ago. He just got his first job 3-4 weeks ago (full time w/benefits!!!). I've overheard several negative comments regarding him, and I will admit to stifling a few of them myself. The truth of the matter is that he is maturing a bit later than most kids his age. He's had some emotional issues (including a suicide attempt) but most folks don't know that. He's young enough that he has time to make mistakes and learn from them. He's learning some of them now with regards to his new job and income. People mature at different paces. He'll get there.

meno, playing around said...

hi bob, yes, it is safe today...but (jaws music) who knows for how long.... Sounds like it's been a rough ride at times w/your son. But i firmly believe that you are right, he'll get there. One of my nephews has ADD (and i really do think his brain is wired a bit differently than the usual) and one of the results of that is he is about 4 years behind in maturity. So even though he's 19, he may still have the critical thinking skills of a 15 yo boy.

Esereth said...

You drop that little "and mister decided he loved someone else" bit in there with no explanation....okay.

God that's good news. Rock and I are in desperate need of a successful second start.

meno said...

esereth, go back and read my august 4 post, that may clear things up. As i said to mamap, i may write more about this someday, and maybe not. I hope you find the second start you need.

Teri M. said...

Good things to keep in mind.