At the police officer’s recommendation, we took all of his clothes and shoes from him so that he couldn’t take off again. It was quite a struggle to get it all away from him and I wish we had taken it while they were still here. He did not think that only having the clothes on his back was optimal for any of his plans, so he got a little bit upset about it.
I didn’t feel very good about the fact that the police just wrote him a ticket and then left him home alone with me all day. Not only was I worried about how the rest of the day was going to go, I really wanted him to have a more immediate, serious consequence for the drug charges. Maybe a first drug possession might not necessarily warrant a trip to detention, but I think it would have been a bigger wake-up call for him than a ticket.
What was I supposed to do with him? What other consequence could I come up with for the fact that he blatantly smoked pot right across the hall from my room! How could I get this child to show some kind of respect for me, our home, and the expectations that come with being part of a family?
The previous week, I had told him that he couldn’t live here and do drugs in our house or anywhere else. Then, the police forced him to come back home. So, was he thinking, “They tell me to leave. They make me come back. I still want to smoke pot, so I guess I will just do it here anyway.”
What was he going to do without that choice now?
I wasn't anxious to find out and I wanted to keep myself safe, so I locked myself in my room and hoped he would go to sleep and let the rest of the day go by quietly.
I was crazy to hope for peace and quiet. An hour later, he started screaming at me through the door. He didn’t know where his I-Pod was and he absolutely needed it immediately. “You cleaned my room without my permission, so tell me what you did with it!”
Of course he would blame me that the I-Pod’s location was unknown. Nothing is ever my son’s fault. But, I tried to stay calm and I stated, “During the time that YOU chose to live somewhere else, I did three things in your room. I picked up and threw away a lot of garbage. I took armfuls of dirty dishes to the kitchen, and I took all of your dirty clothes and towels to the laundry room. I DID NOT see your I-Pod, I DID NOT touch your I-Pod, and I DID NOT do anything with your I-Pod. If YOU can’t find your I-Pod, then maybe YOU should figure out what YOU did with it. But, I will say that you might want to look in your top dresser drawer or on top of the TV stand in the family room.”
He just stomped away and then it was quiet. So, I peeked out the door and I saw through his open doorway that he now had his I-Pod and was playing a game or something on it. I was grateful that he found it and a potential conflict was averted. The rest of the day was quiet and he even finally did take that nap.
That night, his friend dropped off a guitar and some of the other possessions that were left at his house. He told me that my son had texted him during the day and tried to get a cell phone number from him (the number of someone who could have hooked my son up with some more marijuana). But, he ignored the message. That was interesting information and now I knew what my son’s real agenda was for getting that I-Pod. He needed it to send that text message.
He just kept adding more and more reasons for us not to trust him anymore. Every ounce of trust that had been gained over the last year or so was gone.
I didn’t trust him enough to leave him home alone. As soon as he was unsupervised, he could leave and make contact with someone to replenish his stash. Or he would just leave and not come back.
So, he was basically under house arrest and that meant that I was, too. He wouldn’t go anywhere with me and it was going to make it very hard to do the things that I normally do on a daily basis. I was just as confined as he was.
Even though I didn’t like having to ask for help, I had no choice the next day because I had an obligation that made it necessary for me to leave the house. My parents kindly came to babysit him. I was worried about how he would act around them and had to hope that he would just sleep all day. I had to instruct them to not let him leave, call anyone, or have any visitors. I told them that if they smelled marijuana, or if he got belligerent with them about not being able to do anything, they should call the police. They said they didn’t know what marijuana smelled like and I told them that it was just an awful smell and they would know if they smelled it. I assured them that I would hurry as fast as I could and hoped that nothing would happen while I was gone.
When I returned, he was still asleep and had not given my parents any trouble. That was a relief.
I went to check on him to make sure that he was still breathing and he woke up. Even though, it was late in the afternoon and he needed to be awake, I regretted even bothering to check on him.
Within an hour, he came downstairs and began raging at me that enough time had gone by since he was grounded from X-Box Live and that he needed to have it back.
In what reality, would we restore his privileges the day after he was charged with possession of a controlled substance?
He said that if he didn’t get it back, he was going to die from boredom, or was going to make sure that he died because he didn’t want to live like this anymore.
I said, “We have already gone over this with you. You had a list of certain things that you were expected to do. And yet, I have not heard you apologize to me for telling me to f*** off when I was trying to get you to go to school. You did not do ANYTHING to bring your grades up to at least passing and now you have been kicked out of school. You haven’t cleaned your room. You did not clean the bathroom or do any other chores. And then you ADDED one really BAD thing—smoking pot! Yes, a lot of time HAS gone by, but you haven’t made any effort to earn your privileges back.”
He shouted at me, “I DID do something to get it back. I went to someone else’s house and I played the X-Box and had a good time. Here, I just sit around doing nothing but being bored out of my mind and I would rather die than keep doing this!”
That statement didn’t exactly do anything for his cause. I almost wanted to laugh at it, but I didn’t.
He was already well into his irrational behavior and there was not much chance of stopping it. He was fighting for control and he was going to continue the battle until he achieved his goal. That is Oppositional Defiant Disorder. This type of behavior can really wear the parents down until they give in and let the child have what he wants, just to end the war. I have wanted to give in many times.
I didn’t want to have a war this time, but there was no way I was going to reward him for ongoing defiance and relapse.
Just as my husband walked in the door after work, the telephone rang. He answered it and told me that I had a call from Job Corps. I had been waiting for this call and as I took the telephone from him, my son started yelling at me to hang up because there was no way in hell that he was going to go to Job Corps. I had to go upstairs and lock myself in my room just to be able to have a conversation.
My husband found himself in the middle of a something and he had no idea what it was. He did perceive by my son’s reaction that he was “on one.”
My husband asked him, “Why wouldn’t you want to go to Job Corps? You don’t want to live with us. You need to graduate from high school. So, go there. Live there. Get an education and a job skill. You get everything you want and some benefits for your life, too.”
When I came back downstairs, my son declared that he could not stand living here anymore, and that he was finished with having us as parents. He demanded that I drive him to the courthouse immediately, so that he could get emancipated from us.
He became even angrier when I told him the courthouse was closed, that emancipation doesn’t just happen in one day, and he doesn’t even meet any of the criteria for emancipation. He began packing another backpack with whatever meager possessions he could still find in his room and planned to leave as soon as he could whether he had shoes, a coat, or a place to go.
It was snowing like crazy and we didn’t want him to go out in that kind of weather. We told him that if it was so bad living with us, we would talk to the Division of Child and Family Services and ask them if they could find him another place for him to live and he should just stay in his room that night and settle down.
That just made him angrier because he didn’t want the State or anyone else to tell him where to live and for some reason, he now demanded that we get his guitar out of the basement for him. I was surprised that he wanted to take it out into a snowstorm, but my husband went to get it for him anyway. While he was downstairs, our son tried to work on my emotions one more time to see if he could get what he wanted. He stood in the living room and regretfully stated that he would rather die out in the cold than live at our house where he couldn’t play the X-Box.
It took a lot of effort to just not sit down and start crying. I didn’t want him to leave. I didn’t want him to be unsafe. I didn’t want him to be unhappy, or die. I didn't want him to use drugs, or hate my guts, or not want to live with us anymore. The situation with him was just getting harder and harder and it was breaking my heart.
But, I didn’t cave in and say “Fine, go ahead and do whatever you want, have whatever you want--just don’t leave.” He didn't hear what he wanted to hear, so, he followed me into the kitchen and resumed yelling and swearing at me. He even grabbed a can of soda and threw it across the room causing it to explode. Soda was spraying everywhere and my husband took him by the arm and told him to get out of the kitchen and away from me.
My son’s reaction to that was to push my husband up against the counter and tell him that he wanted to kill him and punch him in the face every time he looked at him. He grabbed my husband’s face and screamed at him while threatening to choke him with his hands around his neck.
The whole situation was just escalating too much. I went into our office, locked the door, and called the police dispatch number. When I told the dispatcher what was going on, she agreed to send an officer to our house. She could hear my son yelling at me through the door, repeatedly demanding to know who I was talking to and told me to stay on the phone with her. When I didn’t answer him, he grabbed his backpack and walked out the door into the snowstorm, without shoes or coat.
The police came and asked my husband what direction our son had gone when he left and where he might have gone. They found him a short time later at his friend’s house—the house he had been kicked out of a few days before. He actually thought he could hide from the police there. And when the police rang the doorbell, he begged them to not answer the door. The officer that was with us at our house asked about pressing charges. Since we aren’t trying to get him into trouble and we really only want him to be safe and to stop acting the way he is acting, we just asked them to take him to Youth Services for the night.
A few minutes later, he was brought back to our house in handcuffs so that he could get his shoes. Then they escorted him out the door to the car.
And we watched our son being driven away in the back of a police vehicle.
Another first experience.
We spent the rest of the night wondering what we were going to do.
And came up with no answers.