life on the funny farm

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Dark Times with James

I guess the honeymoon phase is officially over with James. Where in the beginning we had a sweet, helpful, affectionate boy, we now have a brooding, sulking, dirsespectful teenager. We've had squabbles with his brother over X-Box end in a punch thrown. We've had my requests/directives to him answered with ignoring silences or a flat out no. We've witnessed him meld with the couch for days when he feels like sulking.
This morning he ripped himself off the sofa like a Band-Aid off a scraped knee and started getting busy packing up a backpack. In it he had a water bottle, a fishing rod, and a few toys he had made over the past few months. Was he running away? I kept an eye on him as I went about my business, and sure enough, down the road he went after a spell. I gave him some time and then went after him in my car. I found him not far from home, up where the RR tracks cross over the road and a creek. I parked my car on the side of the road and walked up the embankment. There he was, squatted over a little fire ring he had made, feeding the small flames with twigs and pine needles. Over his fire he had a hobo sack of an an aluminum foil ball suspended by a coathanger and taped to the tracks with masking tape. I had to bite my cheeks to keep the grin down. He just looked like such a little pathetic vagabond, though he was only about a mile from home and had been gone all of 15 minutes. I told him he was not allowed to have a fire and he quickly put it out with his water bottle. I told him to come home and he took his backpack and got back on his bike without another word. I noticed he was wearing his helmet, so he wasn't such a rebel.

So Fred and I talked to him tonight and told him that he doesn't have to love us, and he doesn't even have to respect us, but he at least has to ACT like he he respects us. Told him we will always love him no matter what, and he will always be our son no matter what. He sat with head hung and barely said a word and all but ran back inside as soon as he was released. I told Fred all I need from the boy right now is for at least the facade of respect, following house rules, and for me to have a feeling of safety for all concerned. In an ideal world he would also love me, like me, and fall over backwards trying to be helpful.

I'm tempted to sweep all this under the rug and put on a happy face and say we're all living happily ever after. But I try hard to keep it real. To write about our downs as well as our ups. To shout out when I'm happy and proud but also air out when I'm feeling frustrated or at my wits' end.

I know that many boys his age will go through periods like this even if they are genetically linked to their parents and have lived with them since infancy. And that many adopted kids, especially older ones, will go through a phase whereby they test their parents, push all their buttons. They figure they will be abandoned once again sooner or later, so they do all they can to expose their parents' true colors.
If I push hard enough, I'll get them to tell me they hate me/send me back/hit me.
Well, James, I hate to disappoint, but that ain't gonna happen. No matter what you do, you will be loved. You will have food. You will have a bed to sleep in. I will never strike you.
So keep pushin, hon. And then realize that we are a family for keeps.

Guess who just came in and said sorry? Guess who just gave me the biggest hug ......

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