The first month of the year was mostly uneventful—meaning that we had very few blow-ups. My son even got a job at a fast food restaurant near our house and at first, was excited about it. It doesn't take very long for someone who is oppositional defiant to start disliking anyone who has authority over them so he soon began to complain about the managers.
Since we had been getting along fairly well so far that month, I wasn't surprised when one day he asked me if I wanted to go to a movie with him. I told him that I didn’t think there was anything that I wanted to see and he asked me to check. I was right. At that point, he said, “Well, can I just use the money that you would have spent to go to a movie with me, to go to a movie with Hailee?” He is such a con artist. I do not appreciate being conned and I did not give him the money.
I should have suspected that the good times were coming to an end a few weeks later when we had a battle about his filthy room. He would take meals and snacks up there, then leave the dishes and partially eaten food in piles all over the place. No matter how many times I reminded him that he was breaking all the rules about food in his room and told him to take it all down to the kitchen, he wouldn’t do it. He said that he should have been able to keep HIS room any way that he wanted to and that if we called it HIS room, we didn’t have the right to tell him to keep it clean. So, for the 150th time, I told him that the term HIS room referred to the room that he was allowed to reside in, but that in no way gave him possession of it and that the privilege of having a room came with the requirement to keep it clean. He responded, “I never agreed to that.”
Where his reasoning came from was a mystery to me.
But, the battle got heated and when his behavior started getting out of hand I told him that if he didn’t want to follow the rules here, he could leave. He said, “If I leave, you will call the police and I am not moving out until the day I turn 18!” I told him that I would not call the police and that he could just go ahead and go because he was close enough to age 18 that the police wouldn’t care whether he left home or not. I guess he thought I was serious because eventually he cooled down and stopped playing the “I’m going to move out as soon as I turn 18” card as if he knew that it wasn’t working to play it on my emotions anymore.
Then, one night, at the beginning of February, he came home from Hailee's house reeking of POT! I guess he thought I wouldn't notice it over the cigarette smell that always followed him home. But, I noticed and I was very angry! It made me so furious that he had been smoking pot with her, but he said that he left her house and went somewhere else before he came home. He stated that I didn’t need to know where he went, or who he smoked it with, and that I might as well stop asking him about it.
I had a sinking feeling that it had to have been going on for awhile and I was just barely finding out about it. I had been deceived, once again.
I said, “Things have been going fairly okay around here and then you go and start doing this again! What were you thinking? Everything is messed up now! You can’t smoke pot! It’s not allowed if you live here and you know it! Why did you start smoking pot again?”
He finally gave the excuse that he had been feeling bored and anxious and that I was crazy to think that things had been going great around here because they weren’t and he couldn’t stand it anymore.
Well, I guess it was my own wishful thinking. I obviously wanted to believe that we were getting along better than in the past.
I had been watching for the bored-ness factor that shows up in the winter months because I knew that it was a trigger for him. I provided money to go out to dinner and bowling quite frequently with his friends. He also had his new job to keep him busy, so I really didn’t see any indications that he was becoming bored or overly anxious. He hadn’t even shown any more signs of drinking in the previous few weeks.
Now what? He wasn’t 14 anymore. We had hardly any control over him as it was at age 17. Nothing we had done, or facilitated, or forced in the last few years made any difference at all. He just refused to get it. How could we convince him to “get it” now?
I told him that I was not funding any more activities with his friends because the trust level was back in the negative zone. He insisted that he never used my money for marijuana. Even if that were true, it seemed pretty hard to believe at the time. I also informed him that transportation to work would be provided, when I was available, but that rides to friend’s houses would not be given anymore because I wasn’t going to enable him.
In the back of my mind, I suspected that he might be headed this direction after his New Year’s Eve drinking episode, but I just wasn’t ready for it.
The next day when I heard the song “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns and Roses on the radio, I got very emotional. It used to be one of my son’s favorite songs and I have associated it with him for a long time. As I listened to it, I pictured that sweet one-year-old child in his little white tuxedo, standing outside the temple where he was sealed to us for time and all eternity, a few days after the adoption was finalized. I wondered how he had grown into the big, long-haired defiant person that he was now. 16 years before, I never would have thought that this is where we were headed.
I just wanted to cry.
We hadn’t given him the “quit or move out” ultimatum yet, but I was fairly sure that nothing that we said or did would make any difference. He was going to do whatever he wanted to do.
If he wasn’t willing to quit using marijuana, we were going to have to get the courage to kick our son out of the house.
How does a parent do that?