On Monday, one of Nate’s professors and her partner came over for dinner. The original intent was to show off Nate’s art and give a tour of his room, which we always present as a walk through Nate’s mind. His walls and ceiling are covered with toilets, cartoons and shopping centers, presented in his original drawings or self-created Word documents. The hope was that Nate’s prof would get a better sense of him and help us think about what to do with him in the future.
It turned out to be a wonderful five hours of great conversation, excellent food and laughter. Nate became somewhat incidental to the evening. But there was one line of questioning that got to me:
“What does Nate want?” “What makes Nate happy?” “Does Nate enjoy the graphic design projects he does?”
These are all legitimate queries, and ones I struggle with all the time. Did Nate want to go to college? Not really; it wasn’t high on his list, but we needed him to continue to do something productive with himself and that something was further schooling. It keeps him stimulated and buys us more time as he gets older and his social skills improve.
That’s not to say Nate minds college, though he hates homework. I’ve mentioned this before, but Nate always starts from a point of “no.” There are real “noes” and fake ones. His first response to my asking whether he wanted to attend SUNY-Cobleskill was “no,” but as I explained it to him, he said, “That might be good.” And it is.
Looking into the future, does Nate want to work, make money and be independent? Eh, hard to say. He likes his money, but doesn’t connect acquiring it with working for it. He makes some insinuations that he’d like an apartment in Chicago when he gets older, and the fact that he thinks of himself as a solo artist astounds me.
But is he enjoying college, and his studies? It’s something he does and, on the whole, has done it well. Will he enjoy a job? I don’t know; I know I didn’t. That Nate is more under our influence than the other kids has forced his hand and made his great strides possible. He’s better for it and, though this sounds hard, it had to be done, whether he wanted it or not, whether he enjoys it or not.