difficult child came "home" for a week or so in September - to work and to see one of easy child's JV fball games. It was nice to have him here. Again, we didn't scratch the surface too deeply - just enjoyed his company and he was great. He was home for about 9 days and headed back "to school." We tried to get him to stay a little longer, but he wanted to go back for Homecoming. (which is so disconcerting to me. I want to remind him that he doesn't go to school) He was adamant that he wanted to join us for PC18's Parent Weekend - difficult children college town is on the way - and then come home to work for a bit. That was like a dream come true in a way. PC18 is at a great school - conservative, high performing, Catholic, has an old school close knit vibe. I was hoping that it would illustrate to difficult child exactly what he was missing. I don't know - I just wanted him to look around and think "I could HAVE this - what the heck is wrong with me for turning my back on this??" (Kind of how I feel. Makes me want to go back to school and take a do over!) So, of course, there was no "come to the Light" revelation moment. But we did pick him up on our way to visit easy child. He made it a point to invite us into his apartment and to show me his very clean room and folded rows of clothes! easy child's school is 2 hours away from difficult child's apartment. difficult child stayed with us in the hotel,and easy child got to show him around his new city and his school. PC15 was thrilled to have both of his brothers to hang out with, shoot hoops with and to tease him! They BOTH stayed with PC18 in his dorm room on Saturday night. Dare I say it was like old times? Of course, there was a little brotherly jockeying for position - difficult child talked about his Univ in the present tense - "we just got a whole new student center", "I think our Spring Breaks are the same"; stuff like that. He still talks about school in the present tense and H and I have to bite our tongues not to remind him that he DOESN'T go to school. But we don't want to antagonize him. It's like an elephant in the room that only H and I can see. A blinking neon sign alternating between "WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?" and "GET IT TOGETHER (and let us tell you how!)" PC18 is great, has a whole new maturity and is THRIVING (thank you guardian angels) away at school. Happy, healthy, balanced, focused. Mama is breathing easier; after difficult child - I was terrified to send easy child away and I am now feeling more confident. He and his roommate have bonded well, grades are good, he is adjusting well. So -difficult child came back with us after parent's weekend and has been back "home" for a week and I believe he intends to stay until the 31st. He is working about 10 hours a day, 5 days a week. I think it's good for him. He is re-bonding with his boss - which is good - his boss is a great guy and role model. difficult child had been frustrated with him, but I think that was part of difficult child's tough guy bravado + the ex girlfriend influence . And PC15 is so thrilled to have his brother around. They were so close for so long and it's nice to seem them reconnecting. I am having my surgery on the 11/1, and am hoping he may stick around for another week. It would be helpful to have him here. But I won't ask, I am hoping he volunteers. Which sums up the way things are going. Our expectations are nada. We expect nothing. He asks for nothing. He doesn't really tell us his plans for the future except he told H that he intends to re-enroll for the January term (6 week intensive) and then for the Spring term. Something which does not seem feasible but we wont shoot it down. We only know the information he volunteers. He has not asked our opinion nor our advice. On occasion, we can't help but give him our thoughts. He is ALWAYS polite but shuts it down pretty quick. So, we tread water. PC18 says that difficult child really wants to get back into school. I hope he is right. And I hope - if so - he will find the motivation to succeed this time. I am not seeing the driven motivated student within in him, so I am not getting my hopes up. Dare I say - it's been good? He's home every night - he did spend Friday night in the city at a concert and slept on a couch, but we picked him up later Sat afternoon. He is pleasant and helpful. Not volatile. He's clearer; kinder. The girlfriend is definitely an "EX-girlfriend" and not showing up on any radar. I don't see any sign of use, but I didn't see it when he was actively using either. (I've checked his stuff and I haven't found anything.) He IS much calmer. I am hopeful but wary. And we are winging it. I am not sure how long we can tread water. But I will do it as long as I can. I just hope the thaw continues and he eventually opens up. But I am not willing to upset the peace by pressing. I have a large bit of my boy back. Even if it's just a mirage for now. I will take it for as long as it lasts. I don't know that I am realistic, but it's enough for now.