Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Too Late

 My Dylan was a high spirited boy and he scared the mess out of his mother on a fair regular basis. He was a hard worker, and he wanted nice things. He worked two jobs so his work ethic could not be faulted, but he just seemed very uninspired in school, which was frustrating because he is a very bright boy. 

He scraped by grade-wise, and was adamant that he was not being interested in college. Tim felt strongly that he needed to be trained in something, and that the training needed to be from a reputable school. Tim was dealing with the fallout from Ronald Reagan's NAFTA which wound up as a mass exodus of machinist jobs from our country. That once rock solid job was no more. Tim wanted our kids to have a better life. 

Tim did some looking around on line and discovered Penn College of Technology. He knew Dylan's mechanical aptitude, his quick ability to figure things out, and even found the course for him: Electromechanical Maintenance. Tim sat the boy down and had a long talk with him at the computer, trying to convince Dylan that a two year degree was well worth his time. Dylan read up on the course, and decided that he was interested in college after all. He applied and was accepted that summer. He began his senior year knowing where he was headed and what he would be doing. 

Just like that, all the reports I'd gotten from the school stopped. I marveled at that. The wild child had grown up. His grades were all decent (not stellar, but decent) just enough to make sure that the offer to attend Penn College remained on the table. 

Fast forward: Now a married man, he tipped back in his chair just as he did as a kid, and said with a cocky grin, "You never knew this but..."

Turns out that he turned 18 the first week of school, and as an adult (legally), he was able to walk into the school office and change his home address to a PO box. A couple times a month, he'd stop at his post office box on the way home from school and pick up the poor progress reports from school. I never even saw them. I listened incredulously and I looked so gobsmacked that he couldn't stop laughing. 

"You never figured that out?" and he laughed some more. 

"No..." I answered.

"So did you just think I magically just stopped getting in trouble?" (Note, it was never anything serious. It was stupid stuff like eating a worm on a field trip because someone bet him that he wouldn't. Or diving into the eco pond in the early spring with all his clothes on because someone bet him he wouldn't. Once it was because he was bending a piece of metal while talking. His teacher told him to stop that the noise was annoying. He remembered not to do it, until the conversation got going again and he forgot. Stupid stuff. His teachers either loved him, or they hated him). 

I said, "Well, yes actually, I did think you'd stopped getting in trouble. I thought that knowing you were going to school after all gave you a direction and motivation that you didn't have before."

And he laughed and laughed and laughed. 

Today, (TODAY!!!!) I was dusting, and one of the things that I made up my mind to do was go through the drawers of an old sewing machine. They seemed to collect a lot of clutter over the years. And there, stuffed in the back of one of the tiny drawers was a pile of documents. From the school. Folded tightly and wadded into the back of the drawer. Turns out that I missed a lot of reports from school before his senior year too. I read through them all. 'Needs to try harder'. 'Doesn't pay attention'. 'Missing assignments'. One after another, His midterms were all failing grades. 

However, he scored so well on the tests that he managed to pull those grades out of the gutter by the end of the term. He'd pick his report card (with his decent grades) up at the post office, and then pick up our mail from the mailbox at the end of the driveway. He put his open report card in with the mail. I took the fact that the report card was opened as a sign that he was taking his grades seriously. Since he was passing with decent grades, it never occurred to me that I should wonder where the envelope was. 

Not at that time, anyway. 

The treadle sewing machine sat just inside the front door. He must have neatly folded those negative midterms from his junior year and stuffed them at the back of the drawer where I wouldn't see them. And for 16 years, I didn't. 

He's 34 years old now, so it's way too late to ground him. All's well that ends well, I suppose. He is the senior engineer at his company and he seems to be well respected. 

Somewhere along the line he grew up. It just didn't happen at my house, I guess.


  1. What a great story. I certainly deceived my parents at times. A bad school report, they never saw it and never thought to ask. Whatever, you seem to have raise a successful son, so there you go. Take some pride.

  2. Seems like he has always possessed intelligence and confidence. A winning combination.

  3. He showed his cleverness in his deception.

  4. Maybe too late to ground him, but you can have fun with him as Iris and any future children grow up and give him fits (maybe not the same as the ones he gave you, but every child pushes a parent to the brink of their patience and sanity at some point). When my grands lament to their parents at bedtime how they are simply not sleepy and how unfair it is to make them go to bed when they’re wide awake, I shrug my shoulders and cut my eyes their way with a wry grin. Payback (good natured, of course).

  5. Oh Bob. When I babysat Iris last month, she helped her parents pack for their night out. She was very excited because she and grandma were going to have popcorn and watch Peter Pan, which for some reason is her very favorite movie. Popcorn is also her favorite snack. She wanted popcorn right away, and was told that she had to wait until after supper. We waved goodbye to her parents and she asked for supper right away, ate two bites, said she was all done, and headed to the kitchen calling "Want popcorn! Want popcorn." I saw his future and I thought to myself, "Hoo boy!"

  6. In the last few years before my mom died, I figured the statute of limitations had run out and I started revealing some of my childhood secrets to them. I figured just about every child does this at some point growing up.

  7. Sneaky! It just shows that grades aren't a great predictor of success, I guess. And I gotta say, it seems kind of petty to give a kid a disciplinary report because he ate a worm!

  8. The act caused quite a distraction in the classroom. He got detention quite a bit. I never heard about it, because I just assumed he was at work.

  9. All's well that ends well. My youngest boy is called Dylan too. he is named after Dylan Thomas

  10. LOL. My husband then, named him Dylan for Dylan Thomas. I liked the name Dylan as well, because I liked Bob Dylan's 'Tangled Up in Blue' (His voice was awful, but he could make a picture with his words). So I let him think that he chose the name.

    Years later, actually when Dylan was at college, he said, "So mom, how did I get my name?" I told him the above mentioned story, which stunned him. He said, "You do know that Bob Dylan was quite into the drug scene, right?" And I said, calmly, "Well...yeah...at the time, it was a thing." He was pleased with his name.

    Then he said, "So where'd 'Christopher' come from. I said, "Because your father thought he chose your first name, I got to pick your middle name. You were named for Christopher Robin, because “Wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.”

    There was a very long pause, and then Dylan said, "Yeaaaaaaaaaah, so let's just keep that story between you and me, okay?"

  11. *snort* I think Dylan made a wise choice.

  12. Aren't we glad when they become adult citizens.


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