So, here's a short update. (Just kidding, it probably won't be short!)
William has always been my most challenging child. In some ways, he's my cheerful, funny, cooperative little man. But, in some ways, he's like a bad boyfriend who will tell you how wonderful you are and lie to your face as he cheats on you with your best friend. This was the analogy that I shared with him, the other day. I'm willing to wager that it was lost on him. But, to me, it makes perfect sense. It's that awareness that you can't trust someone and it makes you afraid to give of yourself completely. And, yes, I know that I'm the adult and he's the kid (no matter how grown up he might feel), but it still sure is hard to be lied to.
We've been in a vicious cycle for years. He lies, we get upset (to varying degrees), we give him consequences and reassure him through gritted teeth that we still love him and always will. Then he promises not to lie anymore and the cycle continues. All children lie, of course. But, William takes it to a whole new level and I get to the point that if he says the sky is blue, I'm walking outside to go check myself. (To steal Brian's example.) I constantly suspect him and that makes him mad and frustrated. But, it beats trusting him and then finding out that he was lying. Maybe it beats that, I don't know.
We know that some of his lying is due to his basic fear that he is not worthy of our love and that we will, in fact, stop loving him if he admits that he did something wrong, didn't really brush his teeth, didn't do his homework, forgot to walk the dog, got mad, yelled at his sister, etc. It's hard to be convincing when we are so frustrated but we have promised him over and over that we will always love him. The counselors have promised him that we will always love him. The clown at the circus when he was 6 promised him that we will always love him (it's possible that I'm exaggerating slightly). But, it doesn't sink in. It also doesn't sink in that lying is always going to make things worse.
And, of course, some of his lying is due the fact that he just can't seem to resist. And now that he has embraced his adolescence and all tendencies associated with it, everything is just plain harder.
So, that's my rambling intro to my actual story. Here's the deal. William wanted to go to back to public school so he could go to high school. We had our hesitations but he and I were butting heads at home (I refer back to his adolescent angst) and I didn't feel like he was really learning anything in virtual school, anyway. So we investigated how to make it happen. It was a pretty simple process. Simple to sign him up, but not exactly simple for him to do his time at the alternative school for the box cutter incident. (http://www.the5parkers.com/2015/03/bad-situations-lead-to-bad-choices.html) But, that was what he wanted and Brian and I were leaning towards sooner than later but hadn't officially decided when.
I was so worried about how he would survive with all the "bad" kids. I was afraid for his safety. But, then it all changed. I was still worried, of course, but I guess you could say that I felt a bit less sympathetic when I caught him trying to steal a charger from Walmart. I was lucky enough to come around the corner in time to see his attempt and stop it. This time. Who knows how many times I didn't catch him. I was devastated. It was New Year's Day and it seemed like a pretty bad omen for how our year would go, with him, anyway. My paranoia was pretty dead on because, wow, it's been rough.
With this great revelation, we decided that alternative school should definitely come sooner than later and I soon found myself driving to a not-so-nice part of town and signing my son up. I listened to the rules against bringing anything, not being allowed to speak, metal detectors, searches, etc. And I couldn't make sense of how we got there. Part of me wanted to scream that he didn't belong there and the other part of me was terrified that he did. The only thing that my parts could agree on was that I hoped it helped him, scared him straight, whatever you want to call it.
For awhile, it was business as usual. I mean, lousy business that involved him catching a bus at 530 a.m. and telling me stories about kids yelling at teachers. But, business as usual, none-the-less.
It didn't take long for more drama. Then more drama. William tried to buy drugs on the bus (we don't believe that, though.), William had a phone hidden in his room for 3 months that he got from who knows where and then, William was suspended from school. I'm being vague on the details of that for William's benefit. But, oh how I want to spill all so somebody can tell me what in the world to do.
So, we soon found ourselves going to another manifestation meeting and another disciplinary meeting so we could find out what his next consequence would be. (It turned out to be extended time there.) But, this time, there was no point in making a statement. There was no "Don't send him to alternative school! He only did these things because he was being bullied and felt unsafe." It was true then but it's not true now. While he is still getting messed with, nothing he is doing is a direct reaction to that. Not an obvious or justifiable one, anyway.
We honestly don't know what to do anymore. We are so angry. He is so angry. We get more angry because we don't know why he has the nerve to be angry. And that probably makes him angry. Etc etc.
In the midst of all this, I try to remember to tell him that we will love him no matter what. But, I don't act like I do. I mean, sure, freaking out when these things happen, taking him to the alternative school, giving him consequences; these are all ways of showing love. Because if we didn't care, we wouldn't bother, right? He doesn't see that, though. But, I also feel like I can't spend a lot of time showing the love in more enjoyable ways, being silly with him, being happy, etc, because that will send a message that all is ok. Because it's not. It's just not. (It is no secret to me that this method is not effective, either.)
I am so tired. For the last 9 years, I have gotten burned over and over again. And, I know that it's part of parenting. But, I hate feeling like I can't let my guard down because when I do, I will be made a fool of. And, again, I know, welcome to parenting. I guess I just thought that those good times would actually be good. Not just good because I hadn't found out the bad yet. It hurts me so much that he can lie so easily. It may seem like I am being overly-dramatic and that's because I am! haha. But after years of little lies and big lies, I am just so tired. Tired and, yes, overly-dramatic. ;) I am tired of not ever being able to take him at his word, I'm tired of now checking his pockets after we leave a store and not letting him leave my side. I am tired.
We love him to the moon and back. But, we don't know how to save him. We don't know how to get him off this track. He has such a good heart and he wants to be a good person (not to say that he's not, but you know what I mean).
I feel like I am in a secret longitudinal study by a psychologist somewhere. She is studying how childhood trauma during those pesky formative years affects the rest of a person's life. The answer is a lot, apparently.
Now the trick is how do we fix it? Can we fix it?
Is his increase in rotten choices just the beginning of more bad stuff or is it just a particularly rocky patch?
The only thing that I do know is that this is one complicated relationship that I can't and won't leave. Even if it makes me crazy in the process.
And, I'm sure it will. ;)
So, I'm trying to take one day at a time. Even if almost every day is filled with an argument or a discovery. I'm trying to find ways to show him that I am still on his side. But, honestly, I usually fail miserably. I have so much anger and hurt inside me and I don't know what to do with it. I can only hope that when I do verbalize that to him, he can understand that.
But, sometimes, he is just a kid holding a bunny
or helping to plant seeds in a garden.
He's posing with a scarecrow
or pretending that wrap-around post dialation sunglasses are cool.
And sometimes, he reminds me that he loves me by writing "I love mom" in chalk in the driveway. And if I could find the darn picture that I took of it, I assure you it would be very touching.! ;)
So, sometimes, I feel a little less dramatically doomed. The struggle will continue, I have no doubt of that. But, if we love him and he loves us, we are already ahead of the game, right?
They say that love conquers all. Well, I guess that we are going to put that theory to the test. :)