I haven’t written about what’s been going on in my family lately for fear of jinxing things. But I’m happy to report that Patrick got into a school he really, really wanted to attend, so his last day of high school was last week.
Getting into this school was no slam dunk, let me tell you.
When we visited in September, I asked to speak to the the admissions director privately, and he described typical applicants: highly-motivated, straight-A students who aren’t challenged by high school work.
That’s not exactly our situation, I said.
“Well, we have had some kids come here who are B students, and they’ve done fine, too,” smiled the director reassuringly.
Um, that’s not exactly our situation either, I said.
Suddenly the admissions director looked worried.
But then Patrick went in to talk to him, and when they emerged from the meeting 45 minutes later, the director patted Patrick on the back and told me what a fantastic son I had.
I didn’t know Patrick had it in him to make such a good first impression — he usually can’t bothered to put his napkin in his lap at the dinner table. But give the boy points for pulling out the charm when he needed to.
Or maybe it was sincerity.
Patrick was accepted, and last Friday we drove up to Massachusetts, with me hoping against hope during that two-hour drive that my absent-minded son hadn’t forgotten anything important. As he unpacked, I was relieved to see he’d remembered to bring his sleep medication, in the locked box his doctor recommended.
But of course he’d forgotten the key.
No problem, I assured Patrick. While he was in his orientation meeting, I promised, I’d find a hardware store, break open his old box and buy a new one. Patrick looked nervous (does he think I can’t handle finding a hardware store? I thought), then went off to learn about where to get free condoms, or whatever they tell kids in orientation meetings these days.
I located a hardware store and explained my problem to the kindly owner.
But just as I raised a borrowed ball-peen hammer with the intention of pulverizing the lock, it occurred to me: What if something else was in Patrick’s locked box? Something he kept locked up so his mother wouldn’t find it?
And what if the kindly hardware owner is the kind of person who would call 911 if something else came spraying out of the box when I smashed it?
Was that why Patrick was so nervous when he left?
There was no going back, however. My final thought, as I swung down on the lockbox, was this: after Patrick worked so hard to turn things around — to the point that he got himself into this school! — hadn’t he earned my trust?
And couldn’t I just use money from his college fund to make bail, if it came to that?
So I smashed the box, and all that spilled out were sleeping pills.
It’s only been a week, but so far, so good. I called Patrick the other night and asked what he was doing, and he told me he was reading his chemistry text.
No, really, I said.
But he was!
You’ll have to excuse me now.
I have a moment to relish.