This is his.
“I was born in (the city he was born in) on (the date he was born). I was raised in an LDS family and I had good friends, good grades, and a good attitude all through 1st, 2nd, 3rd grade. 4th grade is when it all started to fall apart. I started getting bad grades, my attitude changed. I just didn’t understand the stuff I was trying to learn. 5th and 6th grade I just gave up, didn’t even try to do the work. Same thing in 7th grade. By that point, my family life was screwed. My parents wre pissed about my grades. We argued a lot, mostly about school. That’s when I started smoking cigarettes and pot and drinking. 8th grade me and my parents started fighting more and more about other things but school. That’s when I became friends with a lot of stoners and drug dealers and I started using aderaol, ridelin, and lortab and in 9th grade I stopped talking to my parents completely and drugs became my entire life. I was high on something every day, multiple times a day and I started using harder drugs like GHB, cocain, shrooms, and X and then my parents put me in here.
“Before that my dad was the one that I felt the most comfortable talking to. He was usually calm and usually didn’t yell. My mom was the one who was always mad at me for something. She got pissed at everything. So I never talked to her at all.
“My sister lives in (name of city) so I never get the chance to talk to her but she is nice. She doesn’t b*%#& at me about doing drugs like everyone else so that is pretty cool.
“My brother lives 5 minutes away from my house but I haven’t seen him very much lately so I don’t really know what he thinks about all of this.”
After reading his autobiography, it is no wonder that I have felt like it is my fault that he started using drugs. I know this is not the way to think. I know that he is the one who made the decision to start using. But, I am his mom and I was supposed to guide him and shield him and protect him.
What could I have done differently?
What if I had done more to figure out how to help him not struggle in school? Once a friend of mine suggested having him tested. But, he was really smart and I didn’t think he had a learning disability. I knew that he had a hard time getting the information from his head to the paper, so, he needed extra time to do his work. It seemed to take him about twice as long or more to complete assignments. I thought that by getting the teachers to understand this problem and having their cooperation in giving him more time was the key to helping him. Unfortunately, the teachers would act like they would be helpful at first, and then change their attitude after a short period of time. They always resorted to the opinion that he was lazy and uncooperative. He would react by giving them the exact behavior that they were looking for.
I tried to help him with his assignments. But, we usually got into battles. No matter how I explained things, it seemed like he was trying really hard to NOT understand. I would get frustrated and he would get upset. We seemed to have school assignment fights every week night. I didn’t like the yelling, but because I wanted to help him so much, I kept trying to help him and he kept wishing I would just leave him alone. I should never have let school interfere with our relationship. One thing that I learned in a parenting class a long time ago was—above all else preserve the relationship. I wish had done that.
Then, he turned 12 and entered Junior High--the den of iniquity that we are forced to put our children into for 3 years. I dreaded it when every single one of my kids started Junior High. I was so afraid of all of the peer pressure and negative influences that seem to pop up in Junior High. I think that if kids can make it through Junior High unscathed they have a great chance of staying on the straight and narrow through high school, too. I had high hopes for my kids because we taught them well, worked on having good relationships with them, and thought they had good friends.
At the beginning of his 7th grade year, I asked his friend who was going to be in 8th grade that year to do me a favor. I got along really well with this friend and I was always either teasing him or feeding him. He and a lot of the other boys used to like to come to our house for cookies and any food that they could get. So, I said to him, “I want you to have my son’s back in Junior High. You watch out for him and make sure nothing bad happens to him.” He assured me that of course he would. Yeah. Thanks for that. This is the friend that my son first smoked weed with. I really don’t think I was asking him to get my kid started on drugs. It makes me sad that they couldn’t have been a support to each other to stay clean and sober.
It hurt me so much to read in his autobiography that I always seemed like I was pissed at him. It probably did seem like that to him. I didn’t know how to deal with the fact that he seemed to defy everything he needed to do or I wanted him to do. Even when I tried to settle things calmly, tried to compromise, and tried to reward him—nothing would stop the cycle of defiance. He would not give in—ever. And I would resort to yelling.
I just don’t think I was always mad at him and I don’t think I was always pissed at him. It probably seemed like that because there are so many times in a kid’s life that a parent is telling him what to do. He was also around me SO MUCH MORE than he was around my husband, that I was always the parent who dealt with most of the problems.
It would have helped to know that he was considered ADHD. I didn’t think he was. He never bounced off the walls. He seemed to be able to concentrate when he wanted to. He WAS hard to entertain. If he was bored, then he was really bored. We would have battles when he wanted me to come up with ideas of fun things to do and I couldn’t ever come up with anything that appealed to him.
I kept trying though. When year-round school was off-track, I signed him up for kids club at the recreation center. He had fun playing games, swimming, and ice-skating. Later when he got too old for kids club, I signed him up for off-track bowling club. He liked both of those activities. Also, on school vacation days, I would take him to movies. It seemed like a good fun tradition, right up to the point when he wouldn’t go with me, anymore. When he started skateboarding, I drove him and his friends to skate parks. Then, I would sit in my truck watching them skate, reading books or magazines, and even doing my work while they skated. I almost always took them to get fast food before or after skating. I sat there for 2 or 3 hours letting them skate as long as they wanted.
I am a mom who tried her hardest to be the best mom I could be. But, would he have stayed away from drugs if I had been a better mother? Who can say for sure now? I can’t “should” on myself about what I could have done—“should” have done. But, I do. It just breaks my heart that even though I tried in every way and did everything that I could possibly do to make sure he would have a good life, I failed, somehow. And now look what happened.
Nobody has blamed me. Not my husband, not my friends or family, and not even the therapist. But, some people have tried to find someone to blame. A nameless, faceless person is an easy target for blame.
The last paragraph in his autobiography is about that nameless, faceless person and it is something that I haven’t written about yet.
I wasn’t sure that I was going to. I’m still not sure if I should.
But, my thoughts about it matter, too. And, it is a part of him.
My son is adopted. He was placed in our home when he was almost 2 months old. He was born with drugs in his system. The Child and Family Services department took custody of him, immediately after he was born. We formally adopted him about one year later. That was a happy and scary year. We were so happy to have this wonderful baby boy in our home and so scared that for some reason we wouldn’t be able to keep him.
This is the final paragraph in the autobiography:
“They told me I had to write a paragraph on adoption so here it is. I was adopted when I was very young, a couple months I think. My birth mother was a drug addict and they don’t know who my father is. I don’t even know if either of them are even still alive. My parents told me I was adopted when I was about 7 I think but that didn’t change anything at all.”
So, some people who know what my son is going through right now have automatically asked, “Is that because of his birth mother?”
Oh, Okay. It is all her fault. If we are going to blame someone, we might as well blame her, right?
But seriously, she may have given him the genetic trait to become an addict, but she didn’t make him smoke that first cigarette, take that first drink, or smoke his first weed.
Any more than I did.
No matter how much I might blame myself.
And I am so sorry.