Like cars on an assembly line, our goals for Nate are broken down into pieces: present day, near term and far term. Did we think of Nate as college material when he was 10 years old? Not in any real way. Back then, our primary mission was to get him to behave properly, control his outbursts and look us in the eye. Further down we could see high school. How the hell would we deal with that? The near term goals would get some thought, though not nearly as much as the day-to-day issues that confronted us. Long range, I always hoped he’d attend a college or university, but that was as far as my mind would take me. There was nothing to gain by focusing so far down the road. Realistically, it would only make me depressed.
But as the conveyor belt of Nate’s life rolled on, high school became the present, and possible college enrollment grew in our thoughts. By the time he was in his senior year, the day-to-day had become mundane. Nate was really in pretty good shape, doing well in class, assimilating nicely, though idiosyncratically, into his teen years. I applied to three SUNY schools for him, and he was accepted into Cobleskill.
Now what? Well, the daily goals are much like they’ve been in recent years: get him to class, make sure he studies every day and is prepared to do his absolute best. Near term is college graduation (it’s unbelievable to write those words!) and then what. What are the long-term goals slowly coming into view?
The big question is what to do post-school. School he knows, and we know how to get him ready for it. Can he work? You know, I believe he can. A couple of years ago, Nate was able to do a job shadowing at the Bassett Healthcare Print Department, overseen by Arc Otsego. At first, Nate needed to learn the ropes of proper workplace behavior: look at people, talk to them, give co-workers their space and don’t pick your nose and use the keyboard! By the second week he was cracking up his colleagues and by the end of his time, he was showing full timers shortcuts on the computer that they were unaware of. Nate got a glowing recommendation when he was finished.
So, here we are, with graduation likely in one year’s time. I find myself thinking about Nate in a job nearby, being the same old Nate: goofy, distracted, unfocused, yet so amazingly skilled and productive that he ends up flooring everyone with his output.
Is that it? Is that the final goal? I admit, I have begun to think of Nate living independently at 30, being able to take of himself and maybe having a relationship.
I find myself wondering if that is going to be a piece winding its way down the assembly line.