I have the "Give-A-Shit" gene. Most people I know do. In fact I think I might even have the gene that lets me give more than just one shit! Sometimes I think I give too many shits, which can be both easy and hard to do.
My 19 year old daughter was born without a Give-A-Shit gene. There were a few times when I thought she might have the Give-A-Shit gene and it was just buried deep only to realize that I had misread the signs. The signs, once deciphered properly, were actually for the I-Only-Give-A-Shit-As-Long-As-I-Get-My-Way gene.
Trust me when I tell you that there is a HUGE difference between these genes. Mine actually involves caring about how things affect those around me, even those I really don't give 2 shits for in general. Mine actually means putting others needs before my own, going without so others don't have to, being an involved parent (which apparently makes me more tyrant than mother) and generally trying as hard as I know how to make things work. That doesn't mean I will sacrifice my self worth, my sanity or my morals for the sake of others -- not even my kids have the right to those.
Her gene means not caring about how her actions and behavior affect her family or her friends. As a kid, the one long time friend who didn't abandon her when she had cancer was the kid she immediately dumped and mistreated as soon as she was better. That was my first real introduction to my true child. I kind of knew she was that way (and aren't most kids in middle school anyway?), but I didn't want to believe it. It was hard to deny when her BFF was left heartbroken. Up till then I was striving to guide her in the right direction and hoping for the best results with nurture over nature. After that Hubster and I realized her gene pool was slightly more poisoned by the bio-dad than we had previously thought and we would be fighting an uphill battle for a long time to come.
This is not the first time I have blogged about upheaval with the college kid. In case you missed it or want a refresher, you can find it here: Dumb-ass kids... and in the post about the I-Pod that cost me my family here: Family hell . Based on these posts you know that things are not often hunky dory between me and the college kid.
Right now I am going to back up in time to when we moved out here in 2006. Freshman year of high school for her to be exact. We lived in the sticks and there was no way she could get a job out there that wasn't an extreme inconvenience to the entire family. She was new to the school and we were OK if she didn't get a job, because we felt that she needed to get situated. After 7 months we moved to a neighborhood. Not as much in the sticks, but still distanced enough from town that her having a job would again have been more of a problem for us than a help. Instead we told her to get together some flyers and advertise herself as available to babysit and/or mow lawns etc... Stuff she could easily get hired for right here in the neighborhood -- and WALK to if she was hired. To my knowledge, she gave out one flyer and babysat, at most, a half dozen times for the recipient. Every summer she was encouraged to get out there and let people know she was available and every summer, she did nothing (unless daily suntanning against the advice of her oncologist counts as something!). One summer I had all the other kids enrolled in "Y" camp and I made her volunteer with the group my youngest was in. Yes, you read right, I MADE her volunteer! Kind of funny since I always disagreed with the state policy of forced volunteerism to graduate high school back home, eh? My goal was for her to establish a rapport with the people there and then have a line in to get a job there later. The girls leading the group liked her and were willing to give her recommendations for getting hired at the Y. I am sure you can already guess that she really didn't put any effort in to getting a job after camp... So 4 years of HS, and 4 years of not making any money to speak of. 4 years of telling her to get out there and market herself because NO ONE else can do it for you. 4 years of her ignoring and sometimes lying about what she had done to get anything at all going in the neighborhood.
Before the end of senior year, she was told she needed to find a summer job -- she had access to my vehicle -- and that she was expected to try and bank some money to help with college expenses. If she applied for a a job anywhere, I have serious doubts about it. Not one single call was made to our house inquiring about any applications the entire summer. You see why I doubt that she actually applied anywhere?
Off to college she goes with instructions to FIND A JOB, at the very least a campus job for spending money and don't dilly dally doing it. Every time we talked, no job. FINALLY she called and said she had a job tutoring, for which she would be paid by her financial aid qualification from FAFSA. GREAT! Not a ton of money BUT a step in the right direction. She did that, seemed to enjoy it and it was in conjunction with Big Brothers/Big Sisters or one of those similarly named organizations. I thought this was a good opportunity for her to get a SUMMER JOB with the organization. Funny how she and her "handler" never connected over her breaks so she never got a job with them.
You already know how this summer went, before we sent her off to her sophomore year of college. If you need reminding, you can take care of that here: Money She came home from school for T-Day after that post and was given this ultimatum: (1) Work over Winter break.Start applying now and during the weeks leading up to break so you will have any chance at all of getting a short term job. If you get one and they know you are coming back for summer, they may hire you for both breaks. (2) Work over Summer break. Start applying now and keep applying until you get a job. (Consequences) If you do not work you WILL NOT have junior year at your current school. We will not fund it and you will have to find a way to get a job and go to school full time from home, AND buy a car, because you won't have ours to use daily, AND you will be required to pay your full share of car insurance (already a requirement she has never fulfilled...)
I bet you can already guess this, but I will tell you anyway... She had nothing lined up for Winter break. She did nothing about it up to the day she came home and did nothing about it after she got home. When asked about it she gave no real response until Tuesday after Christmas when we demanded to know exactly what she was doing about it. The excuses began rolling out. Apparently she made up her mind that no one was going to hire her for just Winter break and therefore she hadn't done much if anything at all. Can I just tell you I was PISSED OFF and so was Hubster! If you DON'T even apply you will NEVER get HIRED! She does not understand this concept. We told her if you walk into a business wearing that chip on your shoulder like the one you have right now, they won't hire you and will send you on your way. If you exude bad attitude they will not hire you. If you act as if it is a bother to be there even to apply they will not hire you. Seriously? How can this child, knowing ALL we have told her about the financial NEED for her to contribute in order that our family doesn't suffer needlessly -- just so she gets to go to school, JUSTIFY her BAD ATTITUDE and willfully fuck over her family? Seriously? What has happened to her to make it so that she refuses to do a fucking thing to help herself, much less her family?
I will tell you what's happened to her! NOT A DAMNED THING! This is where nature vs. nurture comes into play. Truly, I can see no other reason! We have given her the info. We have given her the opportunities. We have taught her right vs. wrong, good vs. bad, glass half full vs. glass half empty etc... etc... etc... We have explained responsibility, we have taught about making smart rational choices. We have educated about common sense with friends, driving, FaceBook-ing and whatever else we as parents can think of to make sure she she is armed with the best possible information to make the best possible choices and decisions. Yet through her whole life she rarely if ever opts for what is wiser, smarter, more sensible, rational, positive or best for her. If there are multiple paths to choose and one is easy, one is hard and one damn near guarantees failure, she will choose to set herself up to fail damned near every time and take the hard the rest.
How is this nature vs. nurture you ask? WELL, her bio-dad was always the same way. I knew it when we dated, it was part of what killed our relationship and I started very early on trying to ensure that she did not become like him. I have either failed or Mother Nature is a cruel bitch.
Tuesday after Christmas she FINALLY left the house, presumably to go apply for jobs. Wednesday she wanted to hang with friends. When I asked why she couldn't go in search of a job first and then go hang with friends. She just got that glazed over ~ youhavegottobekiddingme, thereisnowayIamspendingmyentireWinterbreaklookingforafuckingjob ~ look on her face. She performed the insolent eye roll to the sky, affected the body language of someone who has been insulted beyond all reason and told me she applied for jobs yesterday. To which I said you are expected to keep applying until you find one, period. I don't give a crap if you hang out with friends when you cannot even fulfill the most basic of responsibilities.
The whole picture lit my fuse in a way I haven't been lit in years. I had given her the stern lecture Tuesday just to get her to go at all, but Wednesday I told her I wasn't going to bother since she wasn't listening to me now and turned my head away. A short while later I went downstairs to see what my other kids were up to and she was banging around in her room. When I went in there she immediately went on guard and my lit fuse hit dynamite. I gave her the biggest ass chewing she has had in her life and I did it long and loud. I shoved a mirror in front of her face, told her to look at herself see the "I don't care attitude" that I and everyone else see and that she better wipe that attitude off her face. I put the mirror down and pointed to her heart and told her she needed to reach down inside and find it and while she was at it she needed to find her give a shit. She flicked my hand away and it just set me off. The mirror next to me when I turned just rubbed me wrong and I pitched it across the room. It shattered into a gajillion bits all over the other side of the room. (In my defense, what little defense there is for pitching a mirror, I thought it had a plastic -- kid safe -- mirror in it. I really did not know it was proper mirrored glass... So now I have heaped yet another 7 years of bad luck on myself -- if one is to believe superstitions anyway...)
Where we stand now is that she likely will not have any job for the Winter break unless a small miracle happens, but she is expected to continue to look on the off chance she gets a little something. She is required to have a job for Summer break that begins within one week from when she gets home. If she does not have a job, she will not be going back to school in the fall. PERIOD! She has been told that we will not bankroll her college education if she cannot be bothered to do the right thing. If she has to take a year off to get a job and sock away tuition money then that's what she'll have to do. College is a privilege, not a right and if her actions/failure to get a job means not going to college then so be it. We decided after T-day break that we would not be guilt tripped into letting her freeload off us to go to college.
If any visible, tangible efforts had actually ever been made, things might be different, but there is no longer sympathy or help for someone who does nothing at all to help themselves. We told her we had a breaking point and we have reached it. Oh and to top it all off, she partied lots this past semester, if the pix on FB are anything to go by. So, I was not very surprised when she announced her GPA fell and is no longer high enough to get a good student car insurance discount. She was told get it back up high enough for the discount or she will no longer have insurance... period!