Matt is quitting school :(

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Mattsmom277, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Can't type much or I'll cry but wanted to let my heartache out to those who will understand. Matt is turning 18 at the end of march. he's been in the alternative school and doing somewhat okay, lack of motivation and school hate is his problem. But he's been great at home and school behaviour wise. Emotionally as well he's seemed, he's been in a empty place. Stays in his room, hasn't been social since grade 8. It's been his choice to avoid his own inner difficult child if truth be told. He's been so afraid of doing wrong again, he's avoided everything in life to the point of major regrets.

    Anyhow, without dumping the gory details, he is dropping out at the end of March on his birthday. I know I can't stop him. He does understand how I feel and how much more I want from him. He has discussed a "plan" for himself with me and did accept my guidance (I gave it out of necissity not out of desire to help him leave school which I think is asinine). All I can do is try to help him set himself up for some other form of success and hope it works out.

    My mom heart is shattered. We do not live in a age or community or society where people without education can go anywhere. Even the difference between the US and Canada is huge. I know of people "working their way up" in the US. It is so hard even there. Here in Canada it is even more difficult. People here don't get chances like other places. You either have a background to get foot in door for something good, or you work minimum wage or slightly better jobs. Even a dual income household without kids struggle to pay basic low end rent prices on that salary. I also know Matt is so capable, so very very capable. He's bright, intelligent, quick to learn when interested, has so many interests that could be used to choose a good educational goal and career goal.

    Yet here I find myself setting up an appointment at a youth employment type place for him. I did set some pretty darn firm guidelines it will kill me to keep. Yet I will keep them. Even if it means I have to ask him to move out if he has no job.

    I see defeat in him, in his eyes and his spirits and his words and emotions. He feels life has beat him and can't see the forest for the trees. He can't see life looming large and wonderful and full of opportunities in front of him.

    My heart is broken yes. It is also burdened with fear for him. He needs to feel some sense and accomplishment to have faith in himself. I am afraid for him if he tries but fails, or doesn't try hard enough and fails. I don't know how he can cope not only independently without tools for a life, but also how he can cope with true struggle and not knowing how to make his life into something he can feel proud of.

    I'm rambling. I apologize. I'm just gutted. I can't help it. I wanted more for my children. I'm so proud of how far he has come and his character as a human being. That doesn't mean I don't recognize how vulnerable he is, his anxieties, his disabilities, his obstacles beyond his own lack of motivation and lack of ambition or faith in himself.

    Then there's the glaring truth that I'm never getting to see him do that cap and gown walk. My mama moment as I called it. It was my own fault for making that a milestone in my head, a goal to gauge that I got him to a place he can springboard into life from. I just feel I didn't equip him with the right start, the right tools, the right guidance and motivators to want something more for himself. In all the things I feel successful in about raising him, none of them feel as good as this feels bad.

    PS. I lied at the beginning, I typed too much and can't stop crying. I think I am going to take a tea and book to bed for a few hours and let myself process this all. Tomorrow will feel better right?
  2. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    I'm very sorry. I can tell from the words that you type that your heart is broken over his decision to quit school. I have no words of advice. Just some gentle (((hugs))).

  3. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Is this 3 months before he is to graduate? Or does he still have more semesters to complete.

    It is NOT the end of the world, but I do understand your disappointment and sadness.
  4. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    (((Hugs))) I'm crying as I am typing this. I'm so sorry he is making this choice. There are no words ((hugs))
  5. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I understand. A number of us have walked the non-grad road and it is heartbreaking for the family and frightening for the teen. If he is not short too many credits perhaps he could finish up online. Since he is accustomed to isolation it might be workable for him. easy child/difficult child who was in gifted classes ending up getting his GED. He was proud that he passed it on his first attempt with-o any prep classes. Of course I offered congratulations. on the other hand, once I was alone in the shower I cried. It was like a personal defeat to me. Sounds sick, I know....but even once he was into substance abuse it just never occured to me that he would be the first in the family not to graduate. I really believed he would move on to college, do well and love the experience. Not.

    Sending supportive thoughts and hugs your way. DDD
  6. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Ohhhh. Hugs, sweetheart. I don't have any wisdom to offer, but I wanted you to know I'm here.
  7. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Can he take the GED exam and get a high school diploma that way?
  8. muttmeister

    muttmeister Well-Known Member

    been there done that.:2dissapointed:

    I have a Master's Degree. Neither one of my kids graduated from high school. The older one has an IQ above 135 and got kicked out 2 weeks before graduation. Actually, I blame the school as much as I do him but that is water under the bridge. I know what you mean about not getting to see him do the cap and gown walk. I felt the same way.
    As a former teacher and somebody who has always valued education, it was especially hard for me to realize that neither of them would be graduating. However, I also know that our schools, at least in this country, are in many cases pretty messed up and not fit for anybody. We spend so much time trying to pound square pegs into round holes that it's no wonder the kids begin to feel beaten down (and the teachers as well). Older difficult child passed his GED with a perfect score and went on with his life. Are things as good as if he had graduated and maybe went on to school? Of course not, but that is not the only measure of success. He has become a good citizen, a good worker, and a good son. I have come to realize that, as much as I would have liked to see him graduate, and as devastated as I was when he didn't, it was OK. He salvaged his life afterwards. It is not the end of the world.

    Sending hugs to you, the disappointed mama, but keep your chin up. HOpefully, things will look up eventually. I know it can happen.
  9. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    We totally understand your sadness and disappointment. We work so hard when they are young to try and make school a place that they want to go, we help them for hours on end with their homework, have endless IEP meetings and endless emails and phone calls with the school. We believe the ultimate is the cap and gown.

    I totally get your sadness.

    Tomorrow will be a new day for him and a new day for you. Yes, things will get better.

  10. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    No! Not our Matt! :crying: How much longer would he have to stay to graduate? Are there any online options for him to complete his work? Is there a college nearby that he can attend adult classes?
  11. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Thank you all ! I just woke up from a 3 hour nap. I needed a good cry and then a nap. I feel just as cruddy. But at least I'm not crying. :(

    To answer a few questions, he is a year behind so would have graduated next year. (This delay was because if any of you recall, I took him out to homeschool in grade 9 but then a truancy officer showed up and had him charged and a year probation, without giving us an option to show our homeschooling! Highly illegal might I add but Matt ended up refusing to let me fight for him and accepted things, including court order to return to full time classes). He is in the alternative school side of the regular local public high school. He struggled that first semester back and blew 2 credits, and in the past 2 years blew 2 more. He COULD have attended summer school this year as well as done a correspondence course through summer, then did a additional extra credit next year and he was on track to graduate next year. A year late but I had him mentally prepared to stick it out in spite of his anger about it all.

    He has been ill with a bad flu and only returned back today from Christmas holidays. Because he's in the alt school, he is able to work at his own pace. Being late to return has not harmed him, he actually is weeks ahead of schedule with current credits. Well somehow, the stupid school has him marked for completing a credit he has never done, and has docked him 3 credits that they say he never got that he did. They are flat out refusing to fix it for him saying there is no error. This would mean after next year he'd need to return for yet another semester. It set him off, and let me just say its been a struggle since September to keep him focused on doing that one extra year to begin with. We've had many talks about it. Frankly this was a reason for him to cling to in order to drop out and say to heck with it all. I offered to fight for him at the school. He refused. To his credit, this school has messed up from day one. The principal has been actively attempting to get rid of ALL students in the alt program once they turn 18. It's been a battle for a while. Heck the principal due to Matt's appearance, thought he was over 18 when this year started and called him into the office for NOT reason to get him to sign papers to withdraw! Honest to goodness! WHen he was hating things but he was attending and doing the work and getting pretty darn good grades too. I shut that down right quick let me say. But no attempts are going to work today to convince Matt to continue on. He's just done and even though I do plan to ensure those credits on his school file get corrected, I know there is no stopping him from dropping on his birthday.

    Yes he has other options IF he wanted them. That's the area that makes the difference. The part that he has to WANT them. He can study and go to Toronto a few hours away after he's out of school for a year, and write a GED. He can also be out of school a year and write a mature student test at any college to gain acceptance to a program. I myself have written that test and I know he can pass it easily. So he isn't slamming doors for further education by quitting. This fuels him more in thinking its okay to drop out. :( The thing is, he's so turned off school now. Nothing is convincing him college is a different ball of wax. He just thinks he is going to start his life NOW. I asked him if he felt he had any TOOLS in his arsenal to assist him in starting a life that would mean independence for him. Thankfully he at least admitted that no he does not. And trust me here, he doesn't.

    He has agreed to get a job. I have told him he is to attend school every day and do his work as normal until the day I can't legally stop him. i told him he could change his mind by the end of march and messing up his chance to get these credits is foolish. I told him he MUST have a full time job by the day he quits. If his birthday comes and no job, he is NOT to be quitting school otherwise he can NOT remain living here. I've told him if he quits and has a job and a goal to save for college or an apartment and is sticking to a savings plan and a goal such as that, he could live here. it would require a regular payment to me for "rent/keep", a regular payment to a savings account he may NOT touch, and a set goal we are both aware of (college, an apartment, etc). I have told him if he quits with no job, or if he quits or loses a job, he has 3 months and thats it. 3 months and i will NOT be chasing him each day to go seek a job. I told him at the 3 months mark, he gets 2 weeks to set up social assistance and find a place/room to rent, and he will have to move. That I can support him financially and emotionally etc here at home IF he's doing something in the right direction but that I will NOT support him throwing school away to sit around this house. that he claims he's just needing to get started in life, well he then needs to accept ALL that it entails to make that jump.

    I did tell him he gets ONE shot at moving back home once he moves out. That it would mean enrolling in college and having at minimum a part time job as well. It would require him attending college classes and not failing or dropping out. His grades would make no difference so long as he is passing. But if he can't do that, that coming home to rot in his bedroom is not something I will get behind.

    Of course he was all understanding about it all but that is because I didn't scream and yell and throw a fit about him quitting. i mean, frankly it would have done NO good anyhow even if I was the type to fly off the handle. I did remind him however that my tears are from a place of pain and loss but not to mistake them for supporting him since I'm not ranting like a lunatic. That I don't agree with his choice and wish he'd re-think it. I did tell him how much I love him and believe in him and would be here for him if he is setting a clear path he is determined to go down with gusto. But that the same why I tough love'd him out of the door at 12 (which worked!!!!), I will tough love him out of the nest at that 3 months mark as well and with no shame in doing so because it would be what he needs (a reality check about the real world!).

    I had him recap in his own words where I was at with this all, what the criteria for living here is and what the consequences and time line are if he thinks this is a free ride to loaf in his bedroom on his computer or sleep his days away. I then told him we are both clear on where this is going. And that if there is something practical I can do to help him (interview advice, resume help, pep talks) that I will so long as he is making steps towards his plan. I also told him that in a adult world, moms don't wake you up and nag you to get out of bed for work. That mom's dont nag you to get along with your boss or go to a job you hate or be respectful and suck it up when you hate your job. Not when you are a ADULT. So I told him if he feels ready on his birthday, what can I do really? But meanwhile I don't agree with it and can't pretend I think his choice is a very mature or adult decision.

    The sad thing, he looks like he took a hundred pound monkey off his back.
  12. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry, M. Wish I had some words of advice.
  13. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    It sounds like "the system" has altered the future of yet another student. How sad. I bet he is eager to get the monkey off his back and I hope he will be able to meet the alternate expectations you have laid out. Like others have said it will get better. DDD
  14. barneysmom

    barneysmom Member

    This is so easy to say, but it feels like something good will come of this. Your Matt sounds like such a good kid. Good-heartedness has always meant the world to me. Plus he has the smarts to back it up.

    My ears perked up when you mentioned he had a bad flu. The flu can be devastating to someone with any psychiatric issues. I got real sick with the flu last year and had a little depression after that. I work in a psychiatric hospital, and last year we admitted many patients who had recently recovered from the flu, even as far back as a month earlier. They just couldn't get back on track. It was pretty shocking -- how much a hard flu screws up the biochemistry. Maybe the flu has worn your boy out more than we know, why he feels he can't go on.

    Just some thoughts, hope I'm not out of line.

  15. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Ya know something MM, my HS did practically the exact same thing to me with the credits and it is why I have my GED instead of a HS diploma.

    We all know by now that I was a raving difficult child as a teen. I quit school for about 3 weeks or so in 11th grade. One of the few smart things my parents did was tell me that if I was not gonna go to school then I had to work full time. I got a job as a hostess at a restaurant. Well that inhaled badly. I hated it. Didnt last a week before I was begging to go back to Problem was my mother decided to send me to a school for "problem teenagers." Problem 2. This school was a farce. It wasnt accredited and it was just a small place with maybe 25 kids and 5 teachers...3 of whom were male and at least one of them liked to fondle the girlies. I got easy A's! The place was a joke...we all smoked pot and cigarettes in the courtyard for goodness sakes!

    Well, the place got closed down during the summer after I finished up my junior year there. I started back at my old HS for my senior year. About November of that year, after we had all taken the very first senior graduation tests ever done in VA, well...they discovered that my "credits" from that school werent acceptable. Basically the main thing that would cause the biggest problem was my English class. I was taking Senior English...or what they now call English 4, and I was passing it with an A, but according to these new records...I needed to retake Jr. English and there wasnt time to do it. I couldnt take it at the same time as Sr English or clep it or anything like that either. One couldnt put their thinking caps on and say...oh if she can pass Sr English with an A, then she can probably pass Jr English...sigh. And back took things for an entire year...not just a semester! order to graduate...I would have had to go back to school for one class for a whole year. No way. I finished up the rest of my year...which I thought I was pretty nice to do when I could have quit anytime I wanted to considering I turned 18 in January of that year, and I got my GED in June. Probably should have quit sooner. Would have saved myself a whole lot of heartache in my life now that I think about it.
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am so sorry. You will need to grieve the loss of your plans for him. The school sounds very determined to NOT have him around, so maybe there are things going on that youa re not aware of. it may truly be a 100 lb monkey off his back.

    It brings me back to my senior year. One classmate, D, got perfect scores on the SAT and ACT. She was brilliant, quirky and sweet. She left school at Christmas, took the GED and went off on a full scholarship to a small liberal arts school that taught only the classics. Most of us were stunned. Not graduating when you were the school's top student was shocking (and a black mark on the school's reputation)!! Our teachers did a LOT of talking about how 'stupid' this decision was and how important it was to stay in school. I cannot sya I learned anything in school that semester. I never did even get my grades. I graduated but few of us really cared.

    Turns out that D loved the college at first, but then watned other things. She left after 2 years to travel Europe with some super rich minor prince of some small country. Truly - not a joke or made up story. She refused to marry him (didn't believe in it, still doesn't). She did a LOT and has had a full life but did not do the traditional goals. I lost touch after that, but I am sure that she was able to build exactly the life she wanted. It may be harder in Canada, but in time Matt will find his niche.

    You are exactly right in your demands for him to live at home. VERY reasonable. He may take that test when he is ready. My mom did retention studies for the university and they found that taking a year or two off between high school and college is NOT a predictor of not finishing college. It actually means a more mature student who works harder and stays in school. So this might turn out to be a good thing in the long run - esp if he can take the test and get into college (easier than it is in the US, though I am sure hte test isn't easy.)

    Sending lots of hugs and super soft tissues to help you work through this. It is ok to cry and mourn your dreams for him. You are an awesome mom and he is lucky to have you. JEss is not going to graduate either. We have decided on the GED path because ther is just no wway she can tolerate the pain and the pace of attending school. We cannot get accommodations because her docs will agree that she cannot go but will NOT under ANY circumstances write a letter to the school. It is infuriating, but it won't keep her from doing her best.
  17. Rabbit

    Rabbit Member

    Sending Hugs! Rabbit
  18. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Thanks everyone, once again. Matt did make arrangements last evening to get his mess of hair cut off this afternoon. He did have a pretty major cut right before Christmas but he still has a longer style and it is so thick (even after massive thinning under a month ago) that he really must have a major hair change to be presentable for potential employers. I'm pretty shocked that he is doing this, he has had long hair forever. Oh my the fights over hair (gave that battle up years and years ago, his hair, his problem. My line in the sand was it must always be clean). I think this cut is probably based on trying to prove something to me, that he won't just sit idly after stopping school and is committed to finding a job. I doubt that motivation will last long, he admits himself his lack of organization and his inabililty to find motivation. But for now, at least he's going to cut that mop.

    I did remind him of the huge hiring sign at a nearby convenience store/gas station. it is attached to my favorite coffee shop and we are all well known there. The owners will know him on sight and perhaps that will help him get a foot in the door. It is only 2 blocks and a 5 minute walk away. We'll see. He says he'll go in today after his haircut. He is even understanding he needs to shave his facial hair off. He has a pretty good amount of facial hair and while I actually find it suits him and he grooms it very neatly, it also won't be suitable for job interviews.

    He has never had a job before so I hope someone will give him a chance. I am also good friends with someone whose daughter and son in law own a pizza franchise downtown. She is going to speak to her daughter about Matt and see if she is willing to interview him even though he has no experience. I'm hoping that this woman will agree and honestly I'm hoping she will give Matt a chance since my friend babysits her granddaughter while the parents run the restaurant and this little imp is a total sweetheart. She attends kindergarten at easy child's school and is babysat daily across the street. I used to babysit her and hour a day when her nana did deliveries for the pizza place to the high schools. She's a darling and we give her a nice present every Christmas and she's a huge fan of me and easy child. Maybe that will help this woman think kindly on potentially hiring a 17 year old without experience.

    I really think if this is to not be a feeling of failure for Matt, he needs a real shot at some sort of successful experience. He needs to find a job he can do well and get a pat on the back for doing. That first pay cheque, opening a proper bank account, budgeting etc.

    I'll be keeping you all posted. I'm less heart broken this morning but am left with a deep sadness. Mourning is a good description.
  19. barneysmom

    barneysmom Member

    Mattsmom, i think it's huge that he cut his hair and shaved. Very significant. Maybe he has the energy to do that now, after his decision about school.

    I agree with you about the successes. That's what has kept my gfg17 going lately-- a series of small, consistent successes, which have accumulated gradually into better self-esteem and mental health.

    I think Matt will finish high school eventually, and be a success. Actually I think he is a success now, taking over his life with a big choice like this. Maybe school was just too toxic for him.

    Just my thoughts. I realize it may be complete BS because I'm not his mom. But my true thought nonetheless.
  20. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I agree that the hair cut is a huge step forward. For most young men it wouldn't be but for difficult child's it is huge. DDD