The University where I work is a small town compared to the community college - the streets are quaint, the buildings have character, and parking is a constant thorn in the sides of faculty and administration. I find that I miss the students off the city streets back at the community college. They didn't have to apply to get in so they were often rougher in their knowledge, in their recall of the last exam they took. Even the younger students had the cynicism and pallor of working folk, burnt out on traffic and too many hours in air-conditioned discomfort.
At the university, the students are well-invested in their education. They pay a lot of money for unit hours, read their text books, and are firmly headed towards their 4-year degrees. Community college students are much less confident on what will happen in the upcoming year. They might be there, they might not. They might transfer, they might not.
In my new position, in my little, over-air-conditioned office, I find myself un-confident of where I'll be in a year. Will I make the grade? Will I transfer? Will I be able to do all I said I could do?
At home, we're even less confident. Our eldest angel is maneuvering his way through high school, a treacherous path of incompetent teachers, temptations, and unmet needs. We're happy to see that his tics are quite manageable - quite reduced. We're happy to see him swimming in a huge school, but sad to see his grades bump back and forth between an A in English and an F in math. How funny that college used to be an automatic in my life, an unquestionable goal to attain. Today, I really have no idea if he'll ever get there, much less graduate from high school. I can't see him enlisting in the service (he hates taking orders from any kind of authority). Don't think he has the passion yet to be a professional musician...so...
Oh hell, it's probably too early to tell. Really.
My second son, A, has developed an interesting maturity about school. While he's still in "RSP", the modern "special ed", and he still struggles with completing "extra work", he also prides himself as being a "rule follower." He is a pleasure to have in class, his teacher assures us. He's attentive and always does his best even if it's not perfect. At home, he's just himself: liking to get under the skin of his brother and sister. He chuckles to himself, I can see, when he gets them to raise their voices. He still moves at his own speed, when he's good and ready.
The baby, M, not so baby. She's a peach at school, excited about everything, finicky about doing things correctly and in a pretty way. If she can make it sparkly, she will.
The man in my life: D. We continue in our comfortable co-existence, but I struggle with his reluctance to treat our oldest for his behavior problems. D doesn't like the label perhaps that J's problems put on him. Perhaps it's denial. I'm not sure.
Our weeks fly by, full and noisy. There's always a test to take, a class to prepare for, math facts and spelling words to memorize, a test to write. As always, I love the quiet of the house, late at night and right after I return from taking the three to school. Sassy and I walk the rooms and sip coffee and check e-mail. I'll shower before heading out to the University where there is much more to do, more meetings to attend, new classes to worry about, high-paying students to sell myself to.
M is singing now as I write, her new poem of the week, Five stinky pirates, as plump as can be... except the words grind down to a groan because she's aggravated, because she can't remember the rest. I'm hungry, she says, haughty and princess-like, while copying sentences, before reaching for the Cheez-Its. Can I do this later??
"No, M, do the sentences now. There is no later. Later there is dinner, baths and books to read. Do it now."
We miss summer, I realize.