White Dog came into the office and pushed her way past YoYoMa and Bella so she could sit against my leg. "How come Michael is so crabby?" she asked as Sachi scooted into the room and hid under the desk. From the living room I heard Michael yelling, "Dang it Sachi! Come back here, I didn't mean it!"
I looked under the desk and then petted the Little Man who showed no desire to go back out to the other room. Taiko came down the hall, looked deliberately at me, then sighed as he went to offer himself to Michael. "Remind me to tell Tai that he is a very tolerant boy," White Dog mumbled.
Michael, now that he had an audience, was enjoying a major pity party. Everything was going wrong and the Universe was "conspiring to make him fail." I started to get up to go in there but YoYoMa stopped me. "Let him talk to Taiko for a while, he's a good listener and they share some of the same problems. Michael doesn't want you to go out there and help him think right now, he just wants to vent and complain."
"But why?" Bella asked; she gets nervous around him at normal times and when he is off-balance she is filled with fear. "Because, Tiny Dancer, he is scared. School starts in just a week and it will all be new to him. He is in a bigger more demanding environment and the expectations are different. Things are different and he is not sheltered; out of his comfort zone. He is not focusing on success; he is being overwhelmed with the idea he will fail."
"He should stop that thinking," Sachi said, "because it is better to stay positive and embrace the new experience. Also, because all his negativity is making him say stuff he doesn't mean like none of us care about him."
Michael, after waffling all through his senior year in the Community Transitions Program and having no luck job hunting over the summer, decided to sign up for a couple of courses at the Community College. He was nervous through the placement testing and was outright mad at the assessment that he needed remedial classes in Math and English. "I already studied that stuff in high school and they are telling me I am stupid." "No, Michael," I explained at the time. "it means the college wants to make sure that you are ready for the full college curriculum. They DON'T want you to fail and believe that a little brush up will help you remember stuff you might have studied long ago in high school." He calmed down after awhile and we decided that he would sign up for Math and the College Prep general ed class that all freshmen must take.
But now it was all closing in. Next week classes begin. He has walked around and found the buildings where his classes are. A student volunteer took him on a full tour of the campus. He has compared prices at the Bookstore with the Used Textbook Store over by the University and found one of his books at a nearly $70 savings. "I am spending all of this money and I might not even pass." I get frustrated because I can seem to break through his fixation on negativity. The WDA is afraid he is going to talk himself into failing or giving up.
Taiko walked back down the hallway and I knew it was my turn. The others followed me only as far as the door. "Good luck," White Dog whispered. "What? Were you listening in and now you are coming out to laugh at me?" was my greeting. Mentally I took a deep breath. "Nope," I said calmly, "came out for a computer break and to watch the sunset."