Monday, November 14, 2011


This long weekend (the one beginning on 11/11/11, a date that I love because of its symmetry) has been filled with ups and downs.  The ups are numerous because I am visiting my sister and her kids and it is so nice to be able to play with and cuddle my Awesome Possum and Abi-Gansta.  The days are packed and seem tiring yet more relaxed at home, perhaps because I am only cooking dinner and doing minimal cleaning and I have the rest of the day to talk and be with people I love.

The downs from the weekend come from The Teenager.  We've been struggling for months with attitude, responsibility, respect, and the like.  All of the normal teenage behavior magnified by 16 years without any decent training or upbringing and compounded by the idea that I am in a parental role without being the actual parent.  Honey wonders why I thought this would work at all.  My heart is too big, my head too naive, too trusting.  I always want to believe the best about people until I'm proven wrong.  I want every situation to work out.

But that is not always the way life works.

I left for the airport early Friday morning.  The plan at home was that Honey would take The Teenager over to The Crazymaker's for the weekend -- he'd been asking to go, the timing worked for her, we planned this for over a week.  Friday night through Sunday night he would be there.  On Friday at noon The Teenager sent Honey a text asking to go to his sister's (Jo-Cool) for the night. He'd take the bus, put the dog in her crate before leaving the house. Honey asked what time he wanted to leave, offered to drive him, and said he'd need to communicate about the change to The Crazymaker, to which The Teenager responded he liked walking in cold weather to the bus, he'd text Crazy, and that he'd leave around 4PM. Honey got home at 4:30 and the dog was loose in the house (thankfully not having one of her massive panic attacks that she's had ever since out house was broken in to 20 months ago).  At 6PM he sent a text asking if The Teenager had made it to Jo-Cool's safely.  No response.  When I called Honey at 6:30, he mentioned this to me and I said I'd call Jo-Cool.

Jo-Cool had no knowledge of this. She was not even home from work yet. I called The Crazymaker -- did she know what was going on?  I called The Teenager twice, no response. Sent multiple texts, no response.  Asked Jo-Cool to try, no response.  Called and sent texts to the Leprechaun (another sibling), but no response. I was picking up Tin Man from a wedding and so had him try reaching The Teenager -- and apparently he eventually did by promising not to tell me where he was, just say he was safe. (Let's leave aside that I feel like I've been completely betrayed by Tin Man -- at least he let me know the kid was safe.)  I did hear from The Teenager about 24 hours later, saying "I'm sorry that I lied but I was tired of people making plans for me when I had other plans."  Let us be clear: that is not an apology.

The Teenager was already on a trial basis at our house.  I love living with him even though he drives me crazy.  I thought that his attitude and other things were improving.  Honey disagreed.  And it seems, through this event, that Honey was right.

The problem:
1) A direct, bold-faced lie -- one that neither Honey nor I understand because every time The Teenager has asked to go to a friend's house, we've always made it work, regardless of what else was going on in our lives. Our only requirements: finish your homework and chores and let us know where you'll be and where/when to drop you off/pick you up.  Quite reasonable, I think.  (But then again, I'm not a teenager.)

2) Refusal to respond to any texts or calls, which shows a severe lack of respect -- especially since this is an issue that's happened in the past and we've talked repeatedly about it and why it's a problem and what expected acceptable behavior is.

I can handle a lot of things.  But a direct lie destroys all trust and respect.  And since this was a trial period and things have already been on shaky ground, this seems to be the last straw.

I felt much more strongly that this was the last straw earlier in the weekend.  Now I am losing my resolve, wanting to forgive and move on and let things be as they are (or were).  I want to have the serious conversation and then let him stay with us.  Up through yesterday, I was very firm in my belief that he needs to learn about life through a bit of tough laws and enforced expectations; he needed to return to live with his mother.  Why am I now losing my resolve?  I think about the good things that I saw with The Teenager living with us and I worry about him going down the really wrong track when with The Crazymaker.  I worry that he'll think we abandoned him (when in reality these are the consequences of his choice and playing a victim should have no part in this).  I worry he will lose all the progress that he made.

My sister tells me it's not my responsibility.  It's his mother's responsibility to raise him.  I've done what I could.  But I still wonder if there is more I should be doing.  I wonder if I'm making the right decision.

Currently, our plan is: I fly home Tuesday morning.  The Teenager going to the local community college all day that day.  I will pick him up at 5PM and bring him home to speak with me and Honey about what the consequences are and why, and to hear him talk about his reasons for his actions.

I wanted The Crazymaker to be a part of this.  I called on Saturday and could not reach her.  I called and sent several texts on Sunday asking to speak with her; the one time she spoke with me she said she was tired and would call before noon. Instead, around 6PM I get an angry call from Honey, "[The Teenager] is here!" (This after my e-mail, "I need to speak to you!" to the Crazymaker said that The Teenager was to stay with her until Tuesday, not return to the house until I was home.)  He handed the phone off to Crazymaker, who gave about a million excuses as to why she hadn't returned my call and said she brought The Teenager there to apologize.  My brain kept screaming, "This is why he is like this! You're a horrible example! And you always play the victim!"

Honey did not let The Teenager apologize.  Instead, the kiddo grabbed his schoolbooks and headed back out the door with The Crazymaker and I spent the next two hours listening to rants from Honey and then excuses from Crazy.

I sent The Teenager a text saying that I loved him and I was looking forward to talking with him on Tuesday.  I never received a response.

But still...I feel like the mother.  I feel the weight of responsibility.  I want him to be successful and I want to give him every opportunity for success.  I wonder if I'm overreacting.  And I feel completely miserable every time I think about it.


  1. You can't force a person to accept your help if they are not ready to do so. He will never learn to respect you (or any other authority figure) unless you stick to your boundaries and show him that actions have consequences. You've put up with too much already, at great cost to yourself.

  2. Thank you for that. I'm good at tough love with so many outside the family but have to work so hard creating boundaries and using tough love within the family. And I feel like saying something that seems cliche but is true: "This hurts me more than it hurts you."

  3. Marie, I'm sorry you're having to deal with this! I'm thinking of you all.
    My folks had a teenager living with them last year who was not holding up his end of the bargain, and he ended up being sent back to his dad's home because of his lack of following the (rather basic) rules and being deceitful and full of excuses. I think my parents were sorry they couldn't do more for him, but they were delighted to have their lives back when he left.


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