What He's Had...and What He's Lost
He lets the dog run loose, even though he's been told that the dog bites and must be leashed. He throws cigarette butts, not in the receptacle provided, but all over the yard where our visiting teachers, friends and family walk to the door. He triples the food bill, sneaks alcohol into his room, leaves all the lights on and doesn't clean up after himself ever. He picks up and pockets what he'd like to have whether it's his or not. He always tells us he loves us and gives us hugs. He gets himself applied to college with no prompting, talks about finding a job. He runs out of gas 100 miles away at 2:30 a.m. And wants us to rescue him. He's a subtle bully, poking at the wounded places in us all but not enough to leave bruises.
We become nervous wrecks. It feels like when you are the parent of a lot of kids and your brain is attuned to every little noise and nuance and your brain never gets a minute to rest, only with a dangerous element not present with toddlers.
He doesn't call us. Calls other family and refers to us as “those people” with a venomous tone. We go to court, bring him home and the cycle starts again. He is on his best behavior. When we were in foster care, we always called that the honeymoon period, that fragment of time it takes a child to get the feel of the place and dare to act out.
His honeymoon period ends when I refuse to give him another penny he hasn't earned somehow, he is ticked off. He abandons a job I set up for him and goes to Ruby's to drink and drug all day. “He will not do such menial work. He's worth $30 dollars an hour”, he rants. The most he's made is $14.25 an hour. He threatens my job with his behavior. It is all so disrespectful that I'm done. Done doing the same things and expecting a different result. I take a new tack.
I pack everything he has, all purchased by us as he brought only the clothes on his back. I place it by the door and wait for him to walk in and see it. I dread the discussion that will follow.
It breaks my heart. I lay in bed and worry most of the night. At 3 a.m., we see his stuff is gone. We don't know where he is or what he'll do. He needs help we are not allowed to or capable of giving. He is a coward. And a threat.
And yet he is our son. Our bright, beautiful, funny, black-haired boy.
He is our son, but for now at least, he doesn't want to be. He has gone to the enemy who are too dumb to know they are being conned.