Been years since I blogged. Thinking it’s time to start it up again. Update on everyone: 24 is working in Hong Kong, 21 is finsihing senior year of university, 19 is in second year of university, 18 year old has moved out and is working full time, 18 year old is in her senior year of high school and 17 year old is in his junior year of high school. It’s been a ride…more to come…the empty nest is in sight!!
Wow! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. Here’s the thing. Life has pretty much sucked since September. But….things are looking up!! Gifts are raining down!!!
17 (previously referred to as 16) has had a rough 6 months. Football was disastrous – pretty much pissed off every single player on his team with his “smack talking” and ended up quitting the team not once, but twice. Redeemed himself with basketball where he proved he could be a team player and fulfill the commitment he made to the team. Great life lesson! Still struggling mightily with following rules at home and behaving appropriately on media – if I had a dime for every naked girl pic I found on his phone, I’d be a rich woman. Ugh. Kind of culminated in his blowing up at me one day and pushing me off a chair and into a wall. Called the police just to document the incident. Why? Because he will not be living with us once he is 18 years old and I just need to have some evidence to support why. His case manager is taking him to a Job Corps orientation in May and they do have openings… there are things I must tolerate from a minor child, but once that kid’s 18, it’s just not going to happen anymore. Ever.
16 (previously 15) has been on a waiting list for a county CADI waiver (provides services beyond those which are currently provided) for 2 years and her name finally came up. Yeah! These services will provide further supervision, supportive job placements and, even, supportive housing when she needs it.
Adolescence has just completely sucked with these kids. However, we are going to get through this. I just know it. Both 17 and 16 have respite every other weekend and it’s like J and I are dating again! I can’t believe how much I just love hangin’ out with my sweetie. 🙂
15 is doing great. 18 is choosing a college. 19 is heading off to the Adirondaks in upstate NY for a summer internship, and 22 is still teaching in Hong Kong.
14 has had a rough couple weeks. Thing is, his birthday is coming up. And he is already feeling disappointed. While birthdays fill most kids with unfettered anticipation and joy, things are a bit different for kids who have experienced early trauma and neglect. It’s not hard to imagine why such an anniversary would bring up all sorts of internal conflicts for these kids. For 14, it’s an annual reminder of his birth parents’ absence and always shoots his anxiety level way up for weeks prior.
He is totally focused on getting the “right” gift and having a perfect dinner out with mom and dad. So, we’ll head to the Mall of America for dinner at Rainforest Cafe, then go to Nordstrom Rack so he can pick out some new tennis shoes. Those are the very things he has asked for but, it’s likely that by the end of the evening, he will be disappointed anyway.
You know why? Because what he really wants for his birthday is to have his birth parents present, his trauma erased and that “un-fillable” space in his heart filled. We can never give him those things. And it breaks my heart.
So he will get hugs, love and alone time with mom and dad. And at the end of the day, he will get his bedtime blessing. And, for today, that will have to be enough.
Boy, did 15 lose it last night. Haven’t seen a rage like that in a long time. Anyone who reads this blog might know that the event which precipitated the rage had something to do with a cell phone. 15 has been chatting on facebook with a guy that she has never met. I know this because of my excellent sleuthing capabilities as well as an annual subscription to netnanny. So she admits she doesn’t know him, but her “friend” does, so it’s OK. I note that she is calling him as well. The only information we do know is that he goes by “Erion” and has a phone number with an area code in Illinois. So I promptly block him on her phone and have the requisite conversation regarding getting dragged into someone’s van and raped in a crack house.
She erupted! I mean, like a volcano. Took me and J way off guard. So, she gets verbally abusive, spewing expletives, threats, and generalized hate for about 30 minutes. Tells me she hopes I die in my sleep (while punching her left hand with her right). Then she is escorted into her room so us parents can go to bed and she tears apart the bottom of the door. There she is, peeking her head through continuing to let us know how utterly disappointed she is in our parenting skills. No physical violence directed towards me, though; thankfully, we have moved beyond that behavior.
Well despite her bad bedtime karma, I did wake up this morning. healthy and happy. Well…… 15 is full of regret and apologized to both J and me. I assured her that anytime I note inappropriate communication between her and a boy, that boy’s number will be blocked from her phone. No negotiation. It will happen every time. And, I assured her, if I have to deal with the abuse of last nite in order to keep her safe, then I will. Every nite, if necessary. Without EVER caving in. Because her safety is more important than ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING else. It’s like the parental hippocratic oath : First, keep them safe.
We won’t always be able to do it. She will get to a point in her life where we don’t have immediate, physical control over her. That thought scares me to death. So, until then I will keep her safe. Or get my ass kicked trying.
I have so had it with cell phones. As mentioned in a previous blog, we now have all the kids on our family plan. 15 and 16, however, HATE the smart limits feature which allows me to block photo sharing, internet access and certain people. The feature is essential to keep them safe. The problem, though, is that they’ve figured out that they can take $20, walk to the nearest AT&T store, buy a “pay as you go” plan, slip the new sim card into their phone and, taa daa, they leave me in the dust. It is a full-time job just to keep up with them and their work-arounds. It would sure be easier to just let them have their own plan and let go of all the supervision, but I know from experience, that the consequences would be beyond devastating – picture unknown male teen showing up at our door expecting….
So we continue the dance, though I really just want to finish my beer and go home. 😦
I just don’t get it. So, we’ve been in therapy with 16 for while. Great therapist. Specializes in attachment disorders and fetal alcohol syndrome. 16 gets really verbal when he is asked to do something, reminded of rules or given consequences for misbehavior. Usually directed at me and usually sounding something like this “F### you b#### – F###ing faggot – I dont’ have to follow your f####ing rules. So in therapy last week, we discuss that we will no longer tolerate that behavior. We agree that if he begins to speak that way towards me or J and he refuses to leave the house or go to his room (which are the options generally given), then, we will call the police. Lord knows I did it for 15 when she was out of control and I don’t really know why I have hesitated to use that resource with 16. He’s big (5’8” and 150 #) and usually goes from being verbally abusive to throwing/hitting things around the house.
So I take away his phone today (another long story) and we are talking about my concerns. He begins with “shut up” – not the first time I’ve heard that out of his mouth today – and, then moves on to “I’d live anywhere else if I didn’t have to see your ugly face.” He is asked to leave the house. He refuses.Then the cussing begins and he is, again, prompted to leave until he cools down. He refuses. More name calling and I begin calling the police. He, then, kicks furniture across the room and stomps on it. Swears at me while I am talking to the police and continues to refuse to leave the house.
About 2 minutes before the police (2 squads) show up, he gets on his bike and takes off. Talked to the police and explain the situation. They will stop him to talk if they see him in the neighborhood. Call his therapist to schedule an appt prior to leaving town next week. She is very accomodating and gives us her 7pm slot tomorrow. Then, she asks me to “percolate” with an idea. Suggests that instead of asking him to leave, I try to engage with him as I would a 2 year old who is having a tantrum. I do get that, intellectually and emotionally, he is a 2 year old having a tantrum. She wants me to look past, rather than correct, his behavior in the moment and focus on “connecting” with him. Reach out and acknowledge his frustration and anger. If he calls me “stupid”, say “yeah, sometimes I am.”
I told her I get it intellectually, but I don’t think I am able or willing to do this right now. There has to be a line in the sand here, especially when there are other children in the home, and I have drawn it where he begins to swear or verbally abuse me and is unwilling or unable to remove himself to cool down. Maybe that isn’t the best response, but it’s the response that protects me, the other kids, and ultimately the whole family. If we lose an opportunity to “connect” because of that, then I can live with that result.
We will discuss further tomorrow at therapy. Should be interesting. I’m feeling a bit defensive about the whole thing, so I need to ruminate a bit prior.
We also have an appointment for an informational session at Job Corps on Thursday. See how he likes their rules. I know in my bones that our relationship with 15 did not become “reparable” until she spent 6 weeks out of our home. I think 16 needs the same thing. My gut just tells me it’s so.
I haven’t blogged in ages. Not that I haven’t had bloggable moments. No shortage of those. Just haven’t taken the time. So here’s to catching up.
Finally got the youngest 3 cell phones on the “family plan”. Have tried giving 15 and 16 their own phones multiple times, but just couldn’t keep them safe, so always ended up with failure. This time, spent the big bucks to do a contract with AT&T and incorporate them into the family plan. Since it’s a 2 year contract, there’s no going back.
The upside, though, is that we can add a feature called “smart limits” which allows me to “virtually” control their phones. I decide during what hours they can use the phone, can disable the internet and ability to send/receive pictures, block specific numbers, and even limit the number of texts per month they can have. It’s perfect for kids with executive functioning problems.
The other great feature in “smart limits” is family map. I can GPS track them at any time. Used this yesterday when 16 was hanging with his friend. Turns out they were “hanging out” at the kids’ grandparents’ house on Summit Ave.. Hanging out unsupervised for 4 hours. I called 16 and told him he couldn’t be there if the grandparent wasn’t home. He whined about my lack of trust (like there’s no history there) and, then, hung up on me. Bad decision. I logged onto AT&T and turned off his texting. See why I love this?
So he comes home pissed as hell, tears up his SIM card and declares that he will not be a part of our stupid family plan if I’m going to “creep on” him. So I took his phone and he took off on his bike. After a couple hours, it started raining heavily and back he came, apologetic and dripping wet.
Ended up having a good talk about things and I told him that all the kids had started out with similar limits on cell phones. I told him that that was the deal and he could take it or not. He will be going up to AT&T today too get a new SIM card. Congratulated him on dealing with his anger in a constructive way – biking 24 miles to clear his head – and suggested that the rain was God’s way of calling him home again.
Though at times I can’t wait until he is 18 and out of my home, in my heart I pray that God will always call him home again.
As for the rest of ’em…
14 broke his arm on the first day of summer vacation
15 is a week away from dancing in her quinceinera and a month away from a 2 week horse camp (assuming she passed all her classes – good chance she didn’t 😦
17 is wrapping up finals
19 is enjoying 3 months working in Yellowstone and having a blast
21 is home for about a month before he heads off to his first job teaching English to high school kids in Hong Kong
And Joe is in Vegas for the rest of the week