Earlier today, I watched my son, Joshua, graduate with an Associate's Degree from South Texas College. Pretty proud day for a dad.
4 or 5 years ago, I wasn't even looking this far ahead. We had bigger problems to deal with. Graduating high school wasn't even something we were focused on.
Joshua began using or experimenting, whatever you choose to call it, with illegal substances. I'll spare you the details, but he'd be under the influence at school and when I'd pick him up. I couldn't believe this was happening IN school, but that's another blog entry that I'll never write.
The substance abuse progressed to the point that he had to go to the Alternative Campus. I think they called it the Dream Academy at that point. No matter what you call it, I knew how it was in there, and I didn't want him in there, but there was nothing I could do.
It became such a problem that he was placed in-patient for several months in the Corpus Christi area. It was a very tough place for him to be and for myself and his mom to see him. We'd only get a couple hours on Saturdays and Sundays to see him. While there, he started talking to a counselor. He's always been a pretty introverted shy kid, but his Counselor was able to get him to open up.
Through this Counselor, I found out many things about myself. He told me that Joshua was pretty angry with me. The way I raised him. The pressure. The way I'd get upset easily at him. The yelling. The list went on and on. What bothered me the most was that he'd even considered hurting himself. That was heartbreaking to hear.
How could I have patience and not yell at the kids I see all day, yet, my own son, it didn't seem to be a problem?
Upon his discharge from the in-patient hospital, we both made a comittment to go to counseling. Joshua an aftercare type counseling and me...well, a parenting of the recovering child type class. A small part of me was in denial that I needed it, but if me going, made Joshua go also, it would be a win win for both of us.
We went for 2 years until Joshua turned 18 and decided he was done with it. He said he didn't want to go and that he'd learned his lesson. I was skeptical but he'd just turned 18, and things seemed well at school.
I encouraged him to do well in school, but when I'd see him stressing about grades or state tests, I'd tell him, "I hope you do well, but if you don't, It's not the end of the world. Relax. So what?" That seemed to ease his mind quite a bit. If you can't get into a school you want because your schores are low, so what? It's your call: try again, travel, take some time off, work. Nevermind that I was telling my own son, the opposite of what we are supposed to tell kids, but that worked for me and him.
5 years later, he's earned his Associates Degree in Criminology and starts in the Fall at UTRGV. I'm very proud of the young man he's become. And, most importantly, he's made me work on being more understanding and patient in my private life just like in my professional life.
I just wanted to share that with you guys. It was a great day!!!