Tuesday, August 30, 2016

My Son Ran Away. But, He Came Back. Now What?

It was kind of a strange summer. It started with me trying to appropriately discipline Kaleb and ended with me feeling like I lost a son and gained a roommate.

You see, Kaleb ended the year with a D in Geometry.  And, unfortunately, it wasn't a case of him not understanding the material, he just didn't do the work. Or he didn't understand the material because he didn't do the work, whatever. But, regardless, we grounded him.  This was not a surprise to him nor was it very rigid as evidenced by my softening and letting him go off to Daytona with his friends in the middle of his groundation (Yeah, I'm just blatantly making up words now.). So when I found out that he had snuck his tablet back into his room, I felt totally within my logical rights to let him know that he would no longer be un-grounded on the following day. I thought he'd be disappointed and mad at himself, but instead he ran away.

There were a lot of dramatic moments of him yelling that I broke a promise of him being free on the next day and that he was leaving and me yelling that he wasn't, as I blocked the door in a quite silly attempt to pretend like I could physically stop him. And then telling him that it was he who broke the promise. Anyway, in the end, he went back to his room. And, as I silently praised myself for standing my ground and tried to stop shaking, he climbed out the window.

It was only a few hours. It seemed like longer. It was awful. I got in touch with everyone that I could think of, Brian drove all over, and Kaleb hid in the neighborhood the whole time. But, either way, he came back. We barely spoke for days. It wasn't exactly like we were giving each other the silent treatment or anything; he did write an apology letter, after all. But, there was a level of discomfort that I hadn't experienced before. I just didn't know what to say. I did tell him that I forgave him and that I wanted to start over.

But, like most things, it's easier said than done.

So for the next couple of weeks, he basically did whatever he wanted to do. He would always come home by bedtime but then go hang outside as I slept. Then when I heard that he was bragging that he got away with everything, it was too much for us to take.

When we confronted him, it blew up fast. And, before everyone was done listening to each other completely, he announced that one of his friends read my blog and messed with him about it.  What? That took the wind out of my pissed off sails. He had successfully distracted me from the topic at hand and made me feel all kinds of guilty. When the fight was over, I didn't know whether to mourn the loss of trust between my son and me or the loss of my freedom to vent on my blog. Of course, I'm doing that now so I guess this is my goodbye piece (or more accurately, goodbye to full disclosure venting).

We had one more talk, Kaleb and me. I explained that he needed to be home when I think he's home, that he could not be outside at 2 in the morning (talking on the phone) and that he needed to do his part around the house.  I said that I needed him to do a chore, any random chore before going out to hang with his friends.  I said that once a month, I would like him to come to church with us.  Because even though, he didn't feel connected to the church, it was a family thing and really not fair that he is the only kid who gets a vote on going.

It was a good talk and I felt so delightfully proactive. But, nothing happened. The rest of the summer, he slept all day, only getting up to go hang out with friends. He did no chores with the exception of my occasional "Can you help me with _____?" because he happened to be standing there.  I stopped giving him allowance since he wasn't doing his chores but he didn't even notice because his friend kept buying him dinner. 

And the worst part is that I let it happen. I felt like I had a roommate, not a son.  Granted, he was a pretty good roommate.  He kept to himself, didn't say much, etc.  Between his determination to avoid William (Those two just can't get along!) and his determination to avoid us all, in general, he was the best roommate ever.  ha.  That's not what I want from family life.  But, I also have no idea how to fix it.  I never even asked him to elaborate on his friend reading my blog.  I didn't know how to bring it up and wasn't sure if I wanted to know, anyway.  Instead I wracked my brain for a way to blog about my life without blogging about my life.  I've already shared more in this post than I meant to.  But, old habits and what not. ;)

So school is back in and the routine is back.  I wouldn't say that everything is back to normal, but I would say that there is hope.  I mean, there is always hope, right?  He's hanging around more, talking to us more.  I've tried to get the rules back on the table.  It's mostly not working, haha, but at least, I am working on breaking my habit of looking the other way.

That's it, that's all I've got. I'm adopting a "this too shall pass" and just "keep on keeping on" attitude because I don't know what else to do.  My posts might contain a little more silly and a little less deeply honest and touching raising children of foster care adoption stories.  (Unless they are about Lizzie and Antwan because I can totally get away with that for a few years!) But, there's always homeschool stories, tips that I don't have on getting kids to do chores and go to bed on time, my thoughts on the importance of teaching your children the history of Batman, and random pet updates! ;)

Hopefully, that will be almost as good.  Because as much as I love writing about doing right by my children, it's more important to actually do right by them. I have to find the balance between my need to vent and my kid's need for some privacy.  Even aloof teenagers who would currently rather be anywhere but here. :)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Simone Bile's Parents Are Her Parents.

"Parenting Is hard. Really hard."

I said these words to my 13 year old son, yesterday, after a mini argument that could have been avoided if he simply stopped when I told him to stop and went to his room when I told him to go to his room. But, that's neither here nor there. What is here and there is the fact that he is my son and I am his parent. Oh, and that parenting is truly hard. 

Did I give birth to him? No. Did I even know that he existed until he was five? Existentially, sure. I knew in my heart that my child was out there because I was just that connected to my fate from the beginning.  But, the short answer is no.  But, do I know he exists now? Yes. Did we adopt him? Yes. Is he ours? Yes. In a few short moments, will he likely wake up and annoy me with his thoughts for the day because he is way chattier than I am in the morning? Yes.  Ok, that part isn't relevant, but I'm sort of dreading it. :) Because, again, parenting is hard.

Why am I saying the same things (in creative new ways) that I have said in other posts? And why am I so hooked on question talking? I don't know the answer to the second question, but I do know why I am bringing it up again!

Because a kid who has worked really hard and had a major success on the Olympic floor had to waste a minute dwelling on the fact that some sports commentator (Al Trautwig) trivialized her relationship with her parents.

After being called out on twitter for referring to Simone's parents as her grandfather and his wife, he responded with  "They may be mom and dad but hey are NOT her parents."

Well, I find it a bit ironic that he did give them the mom and dad title since that's usually the one that adoptive parents have to fight for, but he un-did any good by not giving them the title of parents.

Biological grandparents, adoptive parents, whatever. They committed, they signed, they promised, they became her parents through adoption. And since it can be super hard (granted, also, super rewarding, too, though) to be a parent, they deserve the title.

They deserve any and all titles that work for their family.

In an interview, Simone remembered how Ron and Nellie who they initially called “Grandpa” and “Grandma,” sat them down to talk one day.  “She said, ‘It’s up to you guys. If you want to, you can call us Mom and Dad. I went upstairs and tried practicing it in the mirror—‘Mom, Dad, Mom, Dad.’ Then I went downstairs, and she was in the kitchen. I looked up at her and I was like, ‘Mom?’ She said, ‘Yes!’ ”

It matters.

Some members of the adoption community get offended if you compare human adoptions to animal adoptions. I don't.  Partly because I love my animals so fiercely.

Heck, on some days, I like them better than my kids. ;) But, here's the thing. When you adopt an animal, no one wants to talk about your legitimacy as the dog owner just because the dog has had previous homes. No one points out that you are not the dog's real parent. Maybe I am oversimplifying things or treading too close to comparing children and animals too much. But, that's not my intention. My intention is to ask why these animal connections are given more respect than human connections?

Why do adoptive families live in a semi-constant state of justifying their families?  Why didn't that guy immediately apologize and say he misspoke, instead of digging in his heels and continuing to minimize her identity? And, why do people exist that agree with him?

Parent is both a verb and a noun.

I was a parent as I parented my 16 year old who ran away for a night causing lasting damage to our relationship.

But, this to shall pass...

I was a parent as I watched my younger boys actually get along for five minutes while they played the piano and I was their parent when I had to do some parenting and break up an argument a few minutes later. (I refer back to the beginning of my post.)

I was a parent as I watched my daughter acolyte at church for the first time and I was her parent when I later watched her try to stay awake in front of the congregation.

Parenting is hard and as sure I know that I am stuck in the trenches, I know that I want to be there.  I'm guessing that's the case for Simone's parents, too. So if these people made that commitment which they so clearly took seriously, if they stuck by her during those times when parenting her was not as glamorous as watching her do flips in the Olympic Arena; they sure as heck deserve to be called what they are. Her parents.

You might think it's not a big deal, we are just too easily offended or we need a safe space (based on some of the tweets that I read). If so, then you have probably been lucky enough to not have to reassure your kids that no matter what the jerky kids at school said, you are his real mom, dad, parent, etc. And, you might not have had to promise your kid again that you and Daddy will love him forever. I'm guessing that Simone has had similar conversations with her parents, as well. (It's common to our realities.) And of all the things to get "worked up" about, I'm thinking that worrying about the emotional health of kids is a pretty valid one.

Because worrying about kids is just something that parents do. Just ask Ron and Nellie Biles.

You've heard of them, right? They are Simone Biles' parents.