Jon’s second semester at college has been rewarding and frustrating. While Jon is on campus, things are a little easier. Jon has a power chair that is stored on campus and he can navigate independently. Jon doesn’t have a power chair yet permanently. He can still walk and get in and out of a regular car, with a little help. However, getting power chair of his own and an accessible van is extremely time consuming, especially if going through the state for any kind of monetary grant. It seems to take months and months to get anything approved. Because of this I always feel bad that Jon needs to rely on either me or his Dad to drive and pick him up. My inner monologue usually is “I wish we had the power wheel chair and the van already; I could just throw the keys to one of his friends and say have fun!” “What 18 year old wants to have his parents around all the time?”
Friday nights are usually late nights for Jon, he likes to stay at school and hang out with his friends and watch the basketball game. Therefore they are late nights for me and my husband. A few weeks ago he came home early, and asked if he could attend the Nazareth Commuters Association outing. “Mom, would you mind taking me?” In my head I’m thinking: “Really, Jon you have to ask? Like I’m really going to say no?” I answer out loud, “Of Course, Jon, what time and where am I going?” Jon replied, “Great, Thanks Mom! I haven’t been in the commuters lounge for a couple of weeks, they seemed glad to see me and they said they had an extra ticket. I told them that I would probably meet them at the bowling alley, but I needed to check first.” I said, “Well, you better text back a let them know that you will be there.” After a series of text messages it was decided that Jon would meet them at the bowling alley around 9:15pm. The group planned on meeting at the college and carpooling. I said “Jon, are you sure you don’t want to ride with your friends?” Jon’s reply “No Mom, it’s OK it’s just easier for me to meet them.”
As Jon was getting ready for his night out, I asked Jon do you want the manual wheelchair. Of course he said no. I was worried, again my inner monologue “What if he falls? What if he gets hurt, blah, blah, blah?” However, since Jon is 18 he should know when he needs assistance or not. So I didn’t voice my worry out loud. We got to the bowling alley. Some of his friends were waiting. I had to laugh when a very tall muscular guy approached the group and said “Hey, Jon, dude, where’s the rest of you?” Jon laughed and said “Well, one’s at school and the other is at home.” “Are you cool with it?” The guy said “Yeah, sure!” Jon turned to me and said “Bye, Mom, I love you.” That was my queue to leave and wait for his call for me to pick him up. He called little after midnight to be picked up. When I got there, a smaller group of his friends were waiting with him. They drove together, but didn’t want to leave Jon there alone.
I asked Jon how is night was during our ride home. He said it was good. The bowling alley had a shoot system so he could bowl without having to lift and throw the ball. One of his friends put the ball on the machine and Jon rolled it down the ramp. “I had fun! It made it easier for me to bowl.” Just as I got out of the car to help him get seated, I heard the group laughing really loud, as if someone told a joke. In my head I’m thinking I hope Jon isn’t the brunt of the joke. I asked Jon about the laughing I heard. He made me laugh when he told me about one incident that happened while they were waiting for me to arrive. “Mom, there was this group of girls that arrived in a stretch limo, they were all drinking and smoking.” “One of the girls walked up to my group of friends and thought we were all really young looking, and asked how old we all were”. She said “OMG, you all are soooo young looking, how old are you?” The four people Jon was with answered with “22, 21, 20, 19.” The girl looked and Jon and said, “How old are you?” “Jon, said, I’m 18, yeah, I know I look about 13.” The girl said “OMG, You are so adorable, can I give you hug?” Jon didn’t answer right away, he was uncomfortable. The girl said “Oh Am I making you uncomfortable? Well, OK we need to make up a secret hand shake or something.” “You are just too cute not to!” Jon told me that the girl smelled of cigarette smoke and alcohol and he was taking a few steps back as she was invading his space. One of Jon’s female friends looked at the girl making the advance and said “Back off, he’s my boy!” Jon said, “Thank goodness for Kailey.” “I don’t think I would have gotten away from that drunken girl without her.” He and l laughed about that all the way home.
As Jon comes into his own, I need to accept that he is no longer my little boy. He is maturing into a smart and thoughtful young man despite my worry and discomfort. I have to agree with Arnold Bennett who once said “Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.”