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30 April 2012

The saga continues. [More:] Okay, so if you've been reading my posts, you know my oldest is just not exactly seizing his life by the horns.

We talked it through and decided to pay the back rent and court fees (as a loan) and also his next month's rent. We were talking to him on the phone to let him know what we would be doing for him, when I asked him straight up if he'd rather be in Albany or Fort Worth. He said Fort Worth.

So here we go. We paid all the stuff he owes but not the coming month's rent. He moved out today and is with his grandparents. I'm flying up to Albany and driving back to Fort Worth with him. He will stay with us until he can get a job and an apartment down here.

So, one of two things will happen, I guess. He will get a similarly meh job down here, move out, and because he has friends here, he will be okay with that. Or, by bringing him back we will be enabling him to withdraw into the inner sanctum of his room and he'll be no better off than he was before he moved out.

When he first talked about coming back, it seemed like the right thing. Now I don't know.

Meanwhile, I've been having car problems. The car runs fine but the Check Engine Light goes on. I paid $400 earlier this month to get it fixed, then the CEL came on again. This happened when the car was new. After several visits (under warranty) and enough replaced parts, they declared it fixed. Now, 60,000 miles later and out of warranty, the same crap again. It really pisses me off.
Oh. And there's a fly in the house, buzzing around me. :\
posted by Doohickie 01 May | 00:18
I'm sorry. I don't know what it is with this generation, but they seem okay with just doing...nothing. Granted, I myself am in a dead-end job, but I want more for my sons, and they don't seem to be in any great rush to move forward. My 19 year old was heading into the Air Force, but on some medical glitch he was disqualified, and now is losing interest. No job, no license, no great drive. And it's not like I've been able to give him everything in life, either! Don't these kids have goals, anymore?

Sorry for the ramble..I understand your frustration.
posted by redvixen 01 May | 07:23
Sorry dear! Hope it all works out.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 01 May | 08:51
The check engine light on my Saturn is always on. It's a feature. Every time I get it on the computer it comes up "Misfire, Cylinder #1." I can reset it, by disconnecting the battery, but then my wife will stomp on the pedal with her lead foot.

As far as the kid goes, I hope that it works out but even if it doesn't, patience is needed.

Good luck. (My daughter was into cutting in high school and she came out the other side and she's fine now.)
posted by danf 01 May | 10:01
Here's a hopeful anecdote: one of my nephews was floundering and flunked out his first semester in college. The parents yanked him out of school, brought him home, charged him rent and sent him into the job market. They ended up finding him an entry level job.

He stayed with them a year as he saved some money for his eventual ouster from their abode, found a place of his own and continued working.

Several years later he's finally a wonderful adult. It took him a lot longer to mature than some, and we were all wondering about his future. He never returned to college but is successfully managing the real world.

Here's hoping yours find their places and parental worry abates....
posted by mightshould 01 May | 10:07
Nah, it's not just this generation: every generation has folks who would rather play guitar/video games/etc. and mooch off of others than work hard and make money. I know a 50-year-old guy who has a part-time job "working for the environment" while his parents still give him handouts. My 70-year-old relative is similar, living on inherited money. I've long given up trying to reason with them, or feeling any guilt. If I feel like taking them out to dinner, fine, but if not, I don't lose sleep over it. I guess it takes all kinds to make a diverse world.

How old is your son? Whatever he winds up doing, I hope that he finds inner peace. I hope he's not doing drugs! :(

posted by Melismata 01 May | 10:10
Granted, I myself am in a dead-end job, but I want more for my sons, and they don't seem to be in any great rush to move forward.

I see this in my eldest, too. I think a lot of them have watched their parents toil-away in dead-end or soul-sucking jobs and learned that work itself is meaningless and a life-killer. Personally, my son has watched me spend a good deal of my life tied to a computer and he has voiced on several occasions that he never wants to spend his life like that.

I want more for him, too, but damned if I know what that would be. So, he lives at home with us, working two fast-food jobs to pay-down his school debt. And we pray his car keeps running because none of us can afford to buy another one.
posted by Thorzdad 01 May | 10:12
As for the check engine light...Our 2001 Maxima has had an eternal CEL almost since we bought it new. The error code implies a failed catalyst. From my research, it seems this isn't accurate, but, rather, there's simply a discrepancy between what the oxygen sensors transmit and what the computer's programming says it should receive. The computer expects numbers in a certain range and the sensors are sending different numbers. It's a programming mistake, nothing more. The car runs fine.
posted by Thorzdad 01 May | 10:18
Doohickie - have you checked the oil level? This is the most frequent cause of check-engine lights coming on (as I understand it from my mechanic). This may just be that your sump cap has worked a little loose. Or it may need one of the gaskets replacing.
When this happened to me, it was just the oil-level detector switch needed replacing. Time-consuming, but if you have a good mechanic, neither bank-breaking or a shows-stopper.
posted by Susurration 01 May | 11:05
G's younger son, although bright and charming, lacked ambition as a teenager. Losing his dad at 17 was tough on him. He moved to Florida with his (flakey) mother and the family left in Ohio hoped he'd shape up but weren't optimistic.

Well, he's turned into a fine young man. He found, from working several menial jobs in restaurants, that he liked the hospitality industry and he's been to college and now has a good job as a restaurant manager. He takes care of his mother and it's all worked out well for him. So what I'm saying is that there's hope.

I also have to say that I don't understand how parents can allow their kids to hang around the house not working or contributing to the household. If that's an option, then what incentive is there for them to do something else if they can play computer games all day and have all their needs catered for? Seriously, I just don't get it.
posted by Senyar 01 May | 11:06
I'm sorry your son is having issues, Doohickie.

My younger/youngest brother is in his early 40s. He got thisclose to graduating from auto mechanic's school before quitting and then flailing around for years working in fast food. For the last 10 or so he's worked at Einstein Bagels and a couple years ago become a manager of one of their stores and is making a decent wage. It may take some people longer to make something of their lives, but eventually most people do make it.

Also, there's nothing wrong with so-called dead-end jobs. They are jobs that need doing and can be fulfilling in their own way.

And similar to what Senyar is saying - make rules. Make him look for work (I know finding one is hard in this economy, but he can still look), make him pay room and board (even just a token), etc.

I hope everything works out for your son and family, Doohickie.

PS: My mum's check engine light is on her Kia as well. She takes it in, they check it out, reset it and send her on her way. Then it comes back on again. Cars - GRAR!
posted by deborah 01 May | 17:05
I myself am in a dead-end job
It annoys me a little when people describe their job this way - the job you have has, as I understand it, supported you and your family for some 19 years - what more noble end could a job have than to support a family honestly?
Anyway, rant over (and absolutely no disrespect intended, redvixen).

Despite my tendency to be a grumpy old man and to whine about how the young people are lazy and unmotivated, I sometimes have to remind myself that I was exactly the same at their age - I had no real idea what I wanted to do, had done pretty poorly at school, had no real prospects etc. Now, I look back from what I've achieved (professionally - my personal life is still a disaster) and I understand that, while I've never had what most people would call a 'career', everything I've done has led to and enabled something better. If you had told 18 year-old me that accidentally falling into a job as a detailer in a boat-building factory (my first job out of school) would, 32 years later, lead to me having a tenured job with 'Director' in the title, over 50 staff, a budget of close to $7M and responsibility for regulating the activities of over 1,500 organisations, I would have laughed at you. But that's what happened - one thing led to another to another and here I am.

All that is to say - don't sweat it, because he'll be fine no matter what. I have no doubt that you've instilled in him all the values that he needs to be a productive member of society and he'll find his feet at some point. He's lucky that he has you to support him, but make sure he understands that your support is limited - he needs to take responsibility, seriously look for a job (any job), pay back his debts to you and take steps to make his way in the world. One of the hardest and most important things we can do as parents is support our kids as much as they need, but not a bit more. At some stage, we have to push them out of the nest in the knowledge that our hopes and dreams for them are irrelevant - it's their hopes and dreams that matter now.
posted by dg 01 May | 17:57
I confess I was 36 before I had what you'd call a "career," or even a steady job, for that matter. I happened to find the one profession I could use my hodge-podge of college majors/degrees. I also got lucky when, a year after finishing my MFA, unemployed, and running out of student loan money and credit cards, I saw a late-night ad for becoming a teacher in NYC (back then they were desperate for teachers). And ten years later, here I am. Before this, I went through a series of jobs I never kept for more than six months. Bank teller; book seller; secretary at one company or another; phone airline reservationist. And now I've been teaching ten years at the same high school (pray for me). Still, it pays the bills. At this stage of the game, health insurance and a pension are great incentives (not to mention summers off). And it's never dull.

Life is long, I say. I'm sure your son will find his way, Doohickie. I moved home a couple times myself. And, in the meantime, you get to enjoy having him around again. (I'd rather be in Fort Worth than Albany, too.) I must say, though, while I greatly appreciate all the financial help my father gave me over the years, I really didn't stand on my own until I had to, after my father passed away. There's something to be said for necessity. If he's feeling depressed, some therapy might help, too. It certainly helped me at a few points in my life. Someone to talk to without pressure to help figure things out. (Hopefully his stay with you won't end like my last stay with my father, with a big dramatic scene with impromptu packing and the police.). No worries-- we made up soon after; we were never, unfortunately, what you'd call close, though I do miss him. In any case, I'm sure it means a lot to your son that you're there for him.

(and redvixen, it's not too late to go back to school -- nothing wrong with the job you have, of course, but if you want more, go for it, girlfriend!)
posted by Pips 01 May | 18:07
How old is your son? 24

Whatever he winds up doing, I hope that he finds inner peace. I hope he's not doing drugs! :( I see no indication of drug use.

He's just not motivated. We'll see how he does when he gets home; hopefully he'll find a job fairly quickly and get going again. A friend works at Halliburton (evil, I know), but they are hiring like crazy in this area, including a lot of entry level jobs requiring only a high school diploma.

As for the Check Engine Light: The car won't pass inspection with the CEL on (by definition). I had the issue when the car was new, same code (running rich), and it took 6 months of "oh, it wasn't that? try this." That was under warranty though. This is on my nickel. I'm considering leveraging this issue to justify trading it in and getting one of those teeny little Fiat 500s. I got a quote online today, the price wasn't too bad. I may go the boring route and get a Fiesta. Or I might decide to just keep it. I wrote Hyundai and am waiting for their reply. This simply shouldn't happen on a car.
posted by Doohickie 01 May | 18:21
If you were near me, I'd recommend my mechanic -- they're fabulous (a place called Manners here in Queens). Check Engine light here, too. Problems passing inspection with it, too. Turned out to be a cracked hose. $75 repair. Piece of cake.
posted by Pips 01 May | 18:58
Senyar said: I also have to say that I don't understand how parents can allow their kids to hang around the house not working or contributing to the household.

I think it depends on the parents and the culture. After college, I worked to pay off credit card debt that I had incurred from my first serious relationship (and also to travel to anime conventions), but I lived at home rent-free in California and only had to do household chores like cooking, taking out the trash, etc. I didn't pay for car insurance for a while, either, but I did have to pay for my own gas. Seeing as my mom was/is a bookkeeper, I thought (and still do think) that it was more important to get my finances back in line than to strike out on my own and jump-start a writing career. I thought that way for maybe almost two years before deciding to quit a souring job working for Disneyland in hotel reservations to attempt a freelance writing career.

That lead to a full-time job on this coast, I got fired from the job a year after that, and then I spent the about the next eight years trying to get back to the point of where I could think about writing and publishing again. I am still trying to make that happen.

In other words, Doohickie and Senyar, I loved my parents' semi-conditional support until it stifled me and I chose to move away. Everything since then has been a struggle, but I'm actually proud and glad of almost every choice I made since then.

Did that make sense?
posted by TrishaLynn 02 May | 23:05
I laid around, unmotivated and careerless most of my life. It made me what I am today and I appreciate what my son goes through when he's unmotivated. It's a form of meditation writ large. It's what Romney was running against.
posted by Obscure Reference 28 November | 12:36
Now that I got that off my chest, I can empathize with how it feels as a parent when one's child seems lost or afraid of going out into the world.
posted by Obscure Reference 28 November | 12:40
Shell Game - A Uke song about economic inequality from the view of the winners || David Bowie presents a Grammy to Aretha Franklin in 1975,