I have had brief words with young Donald today, but I know that we will need to sit down together and review the conversation in a couple of days. I told him about receiving the letter from school, and how disappointed I was to learn of his less-than-satisfactory attendance record.
I explained that school attendance was a privilege, and that the deal in our house was that he either engaged in study full time or got a full time job. I had agreed to him dropping a couple of Year 12 subjects because I knew that they were not really the best choice for him in the first place and that there was little point in continuing with them. I was assuming that he was going to put full effort into his remaining subjects however.
The reality is that he has been coasting, downloading and watching movies and TV series during the day, hanging out with Daisy, and driving around a lot in my car. Any assignments have been submitted late and only with a lot of nagging and pushing on my part and he bitterly resents this ‘interference’. My costs have increased (fuel costs more than doubled), I am no longer eligible for parenting tax benefits (as he is not studying full time) and when I get home, there is no washing up done, no tea prepared, no nothing.
I told Donald that my initial reaction on getting the letter from the school was for us both to make an appointment with relevant teachers and to see what we could do to get him reinstated. I realised though that in reality, he was unlikely to change his ways or make enough of an effort. Why should I put myself out for him yet again?
I explained that he has been free-loading and has now lost the right to attend school. I highlighted a couple of jobs in the paper and suggested that there was one as a kitchen hand in the City Remand Centre that he could apply for. On Tuesday, he must go and register at Centrelink and commence serious job hunting. His current part time job is just Friday and Saturday nights and does not pay enough to sustain him at the moment.
By this stage, he was looking stunned and aghast. I explained that there were some options. He could look for other study options and gain skills that would assist him in the search for work. I would accept that. He could also go and work for his donor father as a labourer. This would be very hard work, 7 days per week and would mean moving interstate. I would give him until the end of October to have something in place – job or study or combination thereof. Otherwise, it would be time that he moved out and made his own arrangements but that I was not prepared to let things continue as they had to date.
Unfortunately, the phone rang (land line) in the middle of this conversation at a crucial point, which was a bit of an unfortunate interruption, but I cut the caller off and picked up the thread as best I could. Donald retreated to his room and I tried to get on with a handyman job in my laundry, installing brackets and shelving. I couldn’t really focus however as I was so churned up over having to say what I did. I didn’t get half as much done as I should have and will have to finish it tomorrow.
Perhaps some time in the garden will blow the cobwebs away. I know however that I will have to repeat this conversation because unless I keep pushing, none of the required action will happen. Donald’s strategy will be that I will be too busy to enforce my stand and if he keeps really quiet, I will just forget or whatever. The battle, for that is what it feels like to me, is not over yet.