Tuesday, February 23, 2016

He's Back!

The day after Easter, he went to the skate park, but then called to see if he could stay at home again that night.  I asked him if he really had a place to stay or not, but he just lied and said that he hadn’t been able to get in touch with Alex, so he didn’t want to walk all the way to his house if he wasn’t back yet.  I thought he had probably done something to lose the opportunity to stay there, but he wasn’t admitting anything. 

After a few days of this, I felt like we were being used and manipulated again and thought we should tell him that our house didn’t have a revolving door and that he either lived here and obeyed ALL of the rules or he didn’t.  He wasn't going to be allowed to just keep coming and going at his pleasure. 

He responded with the statement that he was “thinking about coming back home.”

I asked him why he wasn’t staying at Alex’s anymore and he answered that he could still stay there if he wanted to, but that Alex’s parents were alcoholics and that it was not a good environment for him to be in if he was going to stay clean.  I think he knew that if he put it that way we would be more likely to give him another chance.   It sounded like a very responsible thing for him to say.  Later he told me that they didn't like how he kept coming and going and told him that he couldn't stay there anymore.  I felt that they probably expected him to start paying rent or contributing to the household in some way, but he wasn't doing that, so he was asked to leave.

Letting him move back in scared me to death.  I was very worried about how we would be able to get along with each other.   I didn't want to live in a house full of daily arguing and contention.

We told him that he could stay here but that we would have to go over the house rules in detail again.  My husband took care of this because I just didn’t feel like I could handle any more battles.  He made sure to point out that our son was not allowed to stay in the house alone and that if we went to the store, or an appointment, or even out of town for the weekend, he had to find somewhere else to go because he wasn’t going to be given a key to the house.  He told him that he had to be nice to us, that he couldn’t just sit around playing computer games all day, that I wasn’t going to be his taxi service, that we weren’t going to give him money, that he had to go to AA meetings, and that he had to find a job.

All of that went over really well with him.

He kept interrupting my husband, which would cause my husband to feel that he needed to repeat himself to make sure that he had been heard.  Our son started yelling at him for saying the same thing over and over again.  My husband told him he was just trying to make sure that he was understood and it kept going back and forth like that until my husband told him that if he didn’t like listening to the rules, he didn’t have to live here. 

My son came upstairs and yelled through the bedroom door telling me what a dick his dad was and wanted me to come out and drive him somewhere because it was obvious he wasn’t going to be able to stay here.  I did not comply and eventually,  I heard him downstairs arguing with my husband again.   I felt that I should just stay out of it because sometimes when I get involved, things escalate.  My son kept coming upstairs, demanding that I come out and listen to him, but then wouldn’t get what he wanted from me, and would go back downstairs and start arguing with my husband all over again.

Finally, through the door, I contributed, “If you are going to live here you have got to be willing to listen to us.  You have got to stop arguing.  If you don’t get what you want, or hear the answer that you want, or have a hard time getting something to work out the way you want it to—you can’t freak out!  You just have to accept things the way they are and leave it at that.  You can’t berate us on and on because you aren’t getting your way.  You have to accept the rules and be happy that you can stay here.”

Then, he reverted to, “Well, if you would only do this…….then I wouldn’t have to do that…….”    It always comes down to that.  I have to conform to his expectations and if I don't, it gives him permission to act like a jerk.  

His parting shot was that he was not going to ask me for anything ever again.

Famous last words.

I wanted to make him leave that night because we shouldn’t have to go through this every single day when all we were trying to do was give him a place to stay. Letting him live here didn't mean that we had to give him total control over us and our home.

We felt like we were “damned if we do and damned if we don’t.”

We let him stay at our house and then he freaks out over everything.

We don’t let him stay at our house and then he freaks out over everything.

So, why did we let him stay when it seemed like we were just in another no-win situation? 

Because that night it was raining.  No matter how awful he was acting, we couldn’t send him out into the rain with nowhere to go. 

Even though it was tempting. 

Saved by the rain.


My husband went out of town for a couple of days before Easter.  We agreed that while he was gone, we would act like we were both out of town so that I would not have to deal with any of our son's drama while he was gone.  I hoped to have some nice, peaceful alone time.  I planned to screen all my calls and just not answer if my son called me.  I felt that I deserved a break, especially since my husband was getting one. 

But, early the next afternoon, the telephone calls started.  I didn’t answer.  Later that evening, I heard from my husband.  He had been out of cell phone range all day and when he finally had a signal again, he found many missed calls from our son.  Then, he called our son back. 

He told my husband that he wanted to know if we were able to go out to dinner for Easter with him.  And then, for some unknown reason, my husband told him that HE was still out of town and wouldn’t be home for at least 4 or 5 hours and that he might be able to get me to go out to dinner with him, if he texted me. 

I had no idea what happened to the plan to let me have some peace and quiet that day and felt that I was being put in the position of having no choice but to go out to dinner with our son.  If I didn’t he would have said, “You never want to do anything with me and all I wanted to do was celebrate Easter with you.”   So, I picked him up at his park, and we went to one of the restaurants that he likes because they serve huge portions of food.  He ate like he was starving to death.  He actually seemed to be trying very hard to be pleasant.  I tried really hard, too even though I was on edge during the entire meal.  I never knew what I would say that would potentially set him off.  I gave him the Easter gifts that I had gotten for him.  He seemed happy to receive them.

But, I still wondered if he there was an alternate agenda to this little Easter dinner together.

As we left the restaurant, I asked him where he wanted me to drop him off, and he replied, “I was kind of wondering if I could spend Easter at your house.  Alex’s family is having their own Easter celebration and I don’t want to intrude on it.”  

I knew there was an agenda.

I should have been happy to have my child back at home for the holiday.  Holidays can be lonely when all of your kids are gone, right?  I was not particularly optimistic about how happy this holiday was going to be, now.  After all, we didn't have a really great track record with happiness lately.  

He was nice to my husband when he got home that night and told him that he had a good dinner with me.  Things were going fairly well.  

On Easter, as we were driving back home after visiting our grandsons so that they could show us what the Easter Bunny brought to them, our son wanted us to stop at a Carl’s Jr. to buy him lunch.  But, I didn’t want to do that.  I had just bought dinner for him the night before.  There was a big ham in the refrigerator just waiting to become our Easter dinner.  Ham was one of his favorite foods, so I thought he should have been excited about having that to eat.   However, I didn’t know that he had already made himself a midnight snack out of the ham the night before and he didn’t think he should have to eat it twice in a row, especially since we were driving right past Carl’s Jr. and how hard could it be for us to stop and buy him some food? 

When we said that we had plenty of food at home and that he was more than welcome to eat anything that he wanted when we got there, he got angry and complained that because we were so cheap, he was going to have to walk all the way to the skate park to bum a couple of dollars off someone, then walk all the way back to Carl’s Jr. to buy himself some lunch, and then walk all the way back to the skate park again.   He wouldn’t let it drop and kept trying to make a big issue out of it.  He probably thought that the more he argued, the more likely he would be to get what he wanted since it would have been easier to just buy him the food than have this become a big deal.  But, we didn't make that decision and the demands didn't stop.  

The Easter blow-up came to a head when I finally yelled at him to just shut up about it.  I said, “You can either eat our food or not, but I don’t want to hear anything else about Carl’s Jr.!  We are not going to buy you lunch today!” 

Then, he told me what I was just in case I had forgotten (calling me one of his favorite names for me).  

When we got home, I went upstairs to my room and thought that it would be better to sit up there all day than to be around my son. 

I listened to the sounds downstairs and heard him cooking food in the kitchen and heard him go into the family room to watch TV with my husband.  I guess he decided that ham twice in a row was better than nothing and better than a 10 mile walk. 

I didn’t understand why he couldn’t be courteous and pleasant and even try to show his appreciation for us letting him stay at our house instead of being demanding, rude, and disrespectful. 

The tension in the house was high every time I ventured downstairs.

So, I spent most of the day in my room, out of the line of fire. 

Having a happy Easter.


Every time we encountered him in the next few weeks, we wondered why we kept trying to help him him.  He was never appreciative of it.   I guess it is just that no matter what has happened in the past, when your child acts like they need your help, you hope that you are doing the right thing and you hope that this time it will all work out. 

One day I picked him up at the park and took him to the orthodontist.  I was afraid to take him alone, so my sister came along.  She was astonished at the way he spoke to me, at his attitude, and at his manipulative tactics.  Even with her there, he was rude and abusive.  But, to me, it was so mild compared to his usual behavior that I was a little bit amused by the whole thing. Apparently, I just need a chaperone every time he is around me.  

My husband and I took him to meet with his Probation Officer concerning the “possession of drug paraphernalia in a park" charges.   The Probation Officer was very upset to see him again.  He told him that he was lucky he was still a juvenile and hoped that he got this all cleared up before he turned 18, or his parents might be visiting him in a few months between glass partitions. 

Our son didn't feel that he should be in this trouble again and informed the P/O that it was stupid that pot was illegal and the only reason he wasn’t still using it every day was because he thought he was going to be drug tested.   The P/O stated that marijuana was still illegal in the United States, period—no matter what some of the other states were doing and that just because you think something shouldn’t be illegal, doesn’t give you the right to break the law anyway.

After we left the courthouse, he ranted for 10 minutes and we couldn't say anything right.  So, when we dropped him off, he left all of the information about getting his GED and going to counseling in my truck.  Apparently, he wasn’t going to take the P/O’s advice about getting started on that so that he would look like he was trying get his life on track when he appeared before the judge a few weeks later.

Two weeks went by without any interactions and then suddenly, there he was on our doorstep with his two backpacks, begging to be able to spend the night at our house. 

I immediately wanted to say, "No, absolutely not.  The last time you stayed here we had a big blow-up and I am sick and tired of that happening every single time we are around you."   

I felt like I was between a rock and hard place.   A huge feeling of dread came over me because if he was actually here asking to stay then he really must need a place.  

But, I didn't want him to be there that night.  I told him that it wasn’t a good time for him to stay because it was my last night babysitting my grandson before his parents picked him up on their way back from their vacation in Hawaii.  He would be going home to Kansas City with them and I wanted to make every minute that I had with him as special as I could.  

Of course, I was promised that everything would be just fine and that it would really help him out to be able to use our computer to apply for some jobs and to check out the online GED program.  He also said he would like to spend time with his nephew and see his sister the next day.   I knew he was just feeding me a line, but how could I turn him away? 

Then, the next morning, he broke his promise.  Right in front of my little grandson, he lost control because his I-Pod was not working.  He was swearing and speaking in a way that was very inappropriate and he wouldn’t stop.  He kept insisting that I tell him how to fix the I-Pod even though I didn’t know anything about what was wrong it.  I said, “This is exactly why I was reluctant to let you be around me and your nephew.  I can’t have you talking like this around him.  You have to stop this now.” 

He replied, “If you weren’t acting like such a b****, I would stop.  All I want from you is to tell me what I am supposed to do if my I-Pod doesn’t start working because I need my I-Pod and I need to get it fixed right now!  If you hadn’t gotten me such a piece of sh** I-Pod, it probably would be working right now.  You should have to get me one that actually works!” 

This irrational line of thinking didn’t seem to have an ending point and since we were driving to the airport at the time, I pulled over and told him to either get out or be quiet for the rest of the drive and that he had 30 seconds to decide what he was going to do.  He refused to get out, but said, “Fine, I won’t talk to you anymore.  You never help me or, do anything for me anyway.”  

My poor grandson was so quiet in the back seat that I knew he must have been bewildered by the scene that he had been witnessing.  I am sure he had never seen anything like that in his 2 years of life.  I was so upset about my son choosing to play this game in front of this sweet little boy, that by the time we got to the airport I wanted to scream.   For the remainder of the drive, I began to sing songs to my grandson to distract him from thinking about what had just happened.  He seemed amused by it and my son, who could not listen to his I-Pod to drown me out, was pretty annoyed by it.    

Needless to say, he took off when we got back to the house without using the computer or spending time with his sister.  He also neglected to take most of his things with him.    

We didn’t see or hear from him again for a few more days.  Then, he called my husband and was very angry that I supposedly hadn’t answered my phone all day and he really needed me to bring him the backpack that he had left at our house because he needed his deodorant, clothes, and food.  I hadn’t heard a word from him for days and suddenly he was mad at me for denying him access to his deodorant.   Sometimes I just had to laugh at the things he chose to complain about.     

It is just incredible that he feels that he has the right to appear and disappear at his leisure and expected me to meet his needs at a moment’s notice, even when I had no idea that he wanted anything. 

My husband drove him to our home so that he could get his backpack.   As soon as he walked in the door he just made himself at home, took a shower, and even made some macaroni and cheese as if he were staying for awhile.  But, right after he ate, he repacked his two backpacks and walked out the door without even saying a word. 

No matter how many times I have had this experience, it is heartbreaking for me to watch him walk up the street with backpacks stuffed full of possessions on his back, not knowing where he was going. 

Not knowing when I would see him again.

Or if he was going to be all right.