Friday, November 25, 2011

How I Spent My Summer

His therapist had suggested 2 things for summer.  Tutoring and working. 

She thought he needed help getting caught up in skills that he did not learn during his last few years of poor effort at school.  So, he went to 12 hours a week of summer tutoring.  Expensive summer tutoring. 

The second thing was finding a job because it would help keep him busy leaving less time to be bored, since boredom is a trigger for relapse.  It is not easy to find a job when you are 14 almost 15, so he worked as a laborer for my husband and older son’s business for a few days a week when they needed him.

I spent a lot of time driving him to and from tutoring and work. 

During the rare free times, I tried to find ways to make him happy and to have fun. That was not easy. 

One day, I took him to the Utah Arts Festival to look at the professional photography.  He was not impressed with the photography, but became interested in the wood carving.  So, we went to the hobby store and bought wood carving tools and blocks of wood for him.  He seriously spent almost 3 days carving wood and did not play the X-box once during that time.  It was amazing!

But, I thought I was going to fail at summer entertainment when we left the Arts Festival.  On the TRAX train ride home, he asked me, “What are we going to do now?” 

In my mind I was screaming, “Are you kidding me?  We just had our activity of the day!”  But, he was totally serious about wanting me to have another thing planned to do.  I thought, “Oh boy, this is going to be a LONG summer.”

Then, on the other hand, sometimes he didn’t want to do anything.  One day, I asked him if he wanted to go see the flooding river in one of the parks in our area.  He seriously got up and gave me a big hug.  He said, “I love you mom.  I love that you want me to go with you.  But, no.”  It seemed genuine and I was amazed.

We went bowling one day and found that on Tuesdays, the arcade at the bowling alley had “two-for-one games”.  So, we started going to the arcade every Tuesday following his After-Care group meeting at the rehab center (where they check in with a counselor just to let them know that they are still sober and doing fine—hopefully).  We had a lot of fun playing games at the Arcade every week.

I was also still babysitting my grandson three days a week and this turned out to be very good for my son.  He liked playing with his little nephew and my grandson soon learned that having his uncle around was awesome. 

He didn’t really do anything with friends.  He didn’t even act like he had a desire to.  There are the kids around here that he knows he should not hang around and then there is one friend that plays X-box more than my son does and they can do that in their own houses, talking to each other over their microphones.  I wondered if he was unsure about having to make choices and decisions that have been made for him in the last several months. 

Other times he would say that he had no freedom, but never took the initiative to have any either.

He told me that I was his best friend and that he would worry about other friends when he started school.

Even though I think he is kidding in a way about me being his best friend—Wow! 

Imagine going from hated parent to best friend.

He started going to AA meetings on Wednesday nights with his sponsor.  The meetings were quite far from our house, so I would drive my son to the meeting and then his sponsor would bring him back home.  It gave them time to talk during the drive and helped them develop a good relationship.  I will probably say this many times, but I am very thankful for this good, caring, giving person being in my son’s life.  He is an amazing influence on my son.

I definitely was chauffer/best friend/entertainment committee for the summer.  I put a lot of effort into making sure that he was having fun, active, and happy. 

I probably did too much and tried too hard.

I was on a crusade against boredom.

And it was hard.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Summer actually started out pretty great. 

My best friend was visiting from out of state.  She wanted to go to southern Utah to see Zion National Park.  My husband and son went with us.  This was probably going to be the closest thing that we were going to have to a summer vacation.

But, my son has never been a very cooperative traveler.  And, it was just about one week after he had commenced from rehab.  We were still unsure of how the summer was going to go with him and now we were going on a 4 day trip.  I was a little nervous about how he was going to act on the trip.

My older son had an idea.  He thought that we should try giving him a camera so that he could take his own pictures of the scenery.  We spent about as much as we thought we could afford at the time and bought him a Fuji Fine Pix camera.  We gave it to him when we arrived at the Bumbleberry Inn in Springdale, Utah just outside Zion National Park.  He actually seemed excited about it.  I was so glad.

The next morning, our first adventure was horseback riding inside the park.  My son called it horse sitting.  He said that next time we ride horses he wants to do more than just sit on a horse as it follows the horse in front of it.  Next time?  Wow.  He went from being adamant that this trail ride was going to be lame to talking about the next time he rides horses.

Then, we began touring the park.  This is when the real miracle happened.  He absolutely loved hiking and taking pictures.  Loved it.  Loved it.  Loved it. 

It was unbelievable.  We were having a good time and he was enjoying himself.  As my husband and I were walking behind him, toward the end of the day, I said, “This day with him has been like pure joy.  It makes me want to cry and it makes me want it to never end.  We haven’t had a day like this for a long time and I don’t know when we will have another one.” 

He was having such a good time, and was so agreeable and fun to be around that I felt like we had been given a great gift.  I wanted to cherish every second of it.

The next day was good, too.  We went to some incredible water-falls where my son hiked around taking pictures of the falls from all different angles.  He got even more into taking pictures than he did the day before.  He hiked and climbed all over the rocks and had a really great time. 

After the trip he showed his pictures to several people.  Everyone loved them and he realized that he had a natural photography talent. 

He became determined that he would become a professional photographer.  Every weekend, he asked us if we could go hiking somewhere else so that he could take more pictures. 

It was so awesome to see him with a goal and with a new outlook on the possibilities of life.

My son--the photographer.

My son—looking forward to the future.

My son—happy.