So. . . the Place July 29, 2009Posted by Toy Lady in Home, random stuff, Surly Boy.
Oh, my, what a long couple of days it was, both physically and emotionally!
Surly Boy and I left the house early last Tuesday morning to spend the next several hours in the car, driving to Vermont. This is, apparently, the last, best hope for The Boy to ever secure any hope of a job.
Have I mentioned that he started kindergarten already knowing how to read, surprised and amazed his first grade teacher when he corrected her grammar, and earned himself a scolding in fifth grade when he didn’t “stay with the class” when the class was working on material he’d mastered at least two years previously – on his own.
Yeah, the only chance he’s got for a future is through a government-sponsored program.
So anyway. His grandfather evidently pointed out an advertisement for this program, and he went and spoke with a “recruiter” and decided that THIS was for him. So he looked at the list of vocational programs offered, and he chose welding.
Swell. Not quite med school or even law school, but hey, whatever makes him happy, right?
I love my son and support him in whatever he chooses.
If I say that enough, it’ll sink in, right?
The summer went on, and he received his “packet” of instructions, including the date he was expected to present himself. If necessary, they would provide a bus ticket.
Um, like I’m going to just put my baby on a bus and stand back and wave goodbye while he goes off to goodness-knows-where?
I think not. I want to at least know WHERE he is, if nothing else. Surprisingly, a pistol-packing, libertarian-leaning, middle-aged mom is a little concerned about what this government program really is.
So anyway. He was expected to check in between 3 and 7 on Tuesday. Peeps just had his vacation, and there really was no way he could reasonably expect any additional time off already, so . . . it’s just me and The Boy. So we set out at 8:00 Tuesday morning – Road Trip!
I did have the presence of mind to ask him if he’d like to drive – he’s still young enough where distance driving is “fun” for him – and I knew I had the entire drive home – alone – to look forward to. So drive he did.
You know, size 13 feet are a lot heavier than you might think. You would be amazed at how many pictures I took that, once I got home and downloaded them, were merely blurs. . .
We’ve spent the better part of the past decade essentially at an armed truce, which has been less than pleasant, in many ways. I comforted myself as well as I could by trying to convince myself that someday, that little boy I used to know would grow into the clever, witty young man I could just barely see back then . . .
Surprisingly, a lot of talking gets done in five hours in the car, driving through the Appalachians. I dare say, more talking than we’ve done since, oh, puberty. His, not mine. Of course, it probably helped that the only music we brought that we could agree on was one Eagles album and a Cosby CD.
At one point, he said that he’d “pretty much decided” that he wasn’t going to bother dating girls that he wouldn’t bring home to meet me, since I’d “pretty much been right” about the girls that I had met.
Well, glory be!
OK, funny thing that happened while we were driving. Did I mention that we were driving through the mountains? For hours and hours? Yeah. Suddenly, we saw the all-too-familiar signs of “road work ahead.”
Then, sure enough, there he was.
The guy holding up traffic with a big old stop sign.
Only we were in the middle of nowhere, and there was no sign – anywhere – of any actual road work happening.
Just the guy, holding the sign, stopping traffic.
So we waited. We were deliberately NOT looking at him, and he was deliberately NOT looking at us. For what must have been, oh, 10, 15 minutes. Just stopped. I’d have tipped him if he’d have tap danced.
Then, along came a truck. Not just any truck, though. Oh, no. The PILOT CAR. With a sign saying “follow me.”
We followed him for a good 10 miles, until we got back to the two-lane road, where he turned around and led another line of cars through the non-construction construction zone.
What made this particularly funny (besides the guy who should have been tap-dancing but wasn’t, and the fact that there was, literally NO construction going on) was that we normally see signs on construction trucks that say “DO NOT FOLLOW” – not “FOLLOW ME!”
The Boy suggested that, what with the price of gas and all, they really should use a Smart Car or something, rather than that big old truck.
Eventually, though, we did cross the bridge from New York to Vermont, and from there, it was only a matter of a few miles until we reached our destination, Vergennes.
A few miles though some farming community, and then we reached the village.
We’d arrived around 2, and he had until 7 to check in, so we scoped out “The Place,” then we grabbed a quick bite to eat (and some coffee!) before officially “arriving.”
I didn’t get any pictures of the “campus” – The Boy was the only one there with an actual parent – apparently, everyone else got shoved on the tbus and sent on their merry ways. The last thing I wanted to do was embarrass him by snapping photos all over the place.
My impression of the “campus” was that it was more a “compound” – a series of brick buildings – the dormitories, the “welcome center,” the “recreation center” – very structured.
So we went to the “welcome center” – where “all guests must check in,” and we were sent to “Building 22.”
So. Building 22. A stark brick building, with a common area, several 2-person bedrooms (with bunk beds!) and, apparently, a resident dog (which I did not see).
We were directed to bring Surly Boy’s “belongings” into the “living room,” then we were shown to his room – his room mate is on the “student council” and will be back the following week. Meanwhile, Surly Boy is assigned the top bunk, shown his “locker” and issued a padlock for said locker and a room key. And his “belongings” are inventoried by a staff member. I guess they’re making sure he’s not bringing any weapons in, while counting his underwear to, um, make sure he brought enough?
The room is tiny – maybe the size of a cell, with a smoke detector and a window with an already-cut-out screen. Someone’s been sneaking out . . .
So once we got him unpacked, The Boy understandably wanted to check out his new environment, so we walked out to the smoking area.
First group of smokers: a young black man with a fondness for the “N word” and two Puerto Rican boys who, apparently, “don’t speak Puerto Rican.”
Uh, yeah. After about 10 minutes of THAT conversation, I was looking for duct tape, because my head was about to explode. .
And then there was the other dude. The kid from Batavia (just down the road from Rochester) who was thrilled to meet a hometown boy. He, lucky soul, had a choice – he could either go to rehab, jail, or come here. He chose here.
We’re guessing he’s not the only one there under such circumstances.
The Boy said “I knew it would be bad, but not this bad.”
My son is there because it was presented to him as a vocational training program – not as the end of the line for the losers of this world.
He truly does deserve better than this. It’s hideous.
And as I was leaving him there, it started raining.