Monday, September 13, 2010

Peter goes to school.

Getting Peter registered at Carleton University has been nothing short of exasperating. He applied back in June and didn't receive his offer of admissions until last week - just before classes started. But the system took so long to process his acceptance, that he didn't get into any classes last week, and it looked like he wouldn't even be registered in classes this week either.

So, today we took the bus and the O-Train down to the campus and pleaded for mercy. In the end, we met "St. Joni," a refreshingly efficient (if terse) and patient admin who was able to figure out which classes would likely transfer from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (we may not get an official answer for several weeks) and get him enrolled in the appropriate classes here. In fact, he attended his first class this afternoon!

The funny thing about doing this with Peter is that he does not hide his emotions very well at all, and he doesn't know when to bite his tongue. Twice this morning while people were going out of their way to expedite his registration, he made offensive comments.

One woman gave us a helpful one-page instruction sheet on how to sign into the Carleton web portal. Peter's sarcasm-laced retort? "Will there be lots of links to pages that don't actually exist?" When we had a minute together privately, I told him that his comment was not helpful and could well have offended the woman who was untangling the administrative nightmare for us. Peter replied that he wanted them to know that he was really frustrated. I'm not sure my lesson hit home.

Then while we sat with St. Joni in the Computer Science department, she worried out loud that Peter might not have already set up his "Carleton Central" account. (Fortunately, he had done so, as it would've been too much work for her to do it.) Peter blurted out that he didn't like her "implying that he was lazy." Gulp. Not a very conciliatory comment to make to someone who is doing you a very big favour!  Fortunately for Peter, St. Joni took his attitude in stride and continued working.

But that's the thing about Peter; he pretty much always tells you exactly what is on his mind. No beating about the bush, no putting a spin on things. If something is bothering him, he will let you know. (Admittedly, not always in the most appropriate way. Our family has a slight problem with passive aggression.) He doesn't know how to "suck up" or how to "kiss a$s." If he is smiling in your presence, it means that he is genuinely happy - I don't think I've ever seen him put on a fake smile. If he's unhappy, his face and body will show it, whether he intends to or not. Usually not.

As a matter of fact, in many of our family pictures over the years, Peter is the only one in the picture who is not smiling;
Peter looks like he's glaring at the photographer!
But just look at his smile when the photographer knows how to help him relax and just enjoy the moment:

Can't you just hear the laughter?
It takes some getting used to, living with someone as frank as this, but it definitely has its benefits.

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