I'm blogging this entry because my wife asked me to, and you have to know that if she has asked me to blog something that bring her better blog traffic, she has to have a reason. The reason, simply, is that she is overwhelmingly tired and needs to sleep. The stresses of our delinquent children have hit both of us hard, but these days it is she who suffers more than I, kind of a role reversal from days past. Normally she is the one to tell me that she will offer me hope in the midst of dark days, but these days I am the one who seems more positive and settled. It may mean that I have learned to care less than I used to, or it may mean that I think kids (especially those old enough to know better or old enough by legal standards) who break the law and then treat their loving parents bad, too, really just deserve what they receive.
Forty-eight hours ago our son Mike was knocking on our front door, having just received his sentence (one one felony charge a sentence of five years probation, and on the other felony charge a concurrent sentence of 365 days in jail, stayed for two years, if he followed the terms of the court's order).
Seventeen hours ago our son Mike was arrested on a new charge of vehicle theft (the specific charges have not yet been leveled against him). So, that means beginning seven days ago tonight he has been responsible for stealing two separate vehicles. The police found him early this morning hiding in the porch of one of our daughter's friends (the friend is also a friend of Mike's), and he was booked at 4:36 AM on charges of auto theft.
Throughout the years I have gone round and round in my head about what we could have done differently with and for Mike. I have spent considerable time grieving what I thought to be a parenting lapse, but I no longer grieve in that way. I recognize that it has not been about good or bad parenting; it is about choices Mike has determined to make (even if they are short-sighted and FASD-fogged ones), against the good guidance and offered assistance of caring adults (not only his parents) in his life over the years. There are, it seems, some people who are simply bound to be criminal and there is nothing anyone can do to stop them.
This does not change my love for Mike, nor my ardent hope that one day his thinking might be clear enough to decide he no longer wants to lead this kind of life. But his actions, consistently antisocial and progressively worse, make me feel that I did all I could do in the years past, and no amount of loving, forgiving, responsive parenting was going to change that. When Mike's brain has grown to adulthood (whatever that might look like for him with the brain damage he suffered in utero), I hope he will recognize that we still love him and did all we could do to prevent the miserable road he finds himself upon.
My personal philosophical belief in free will has been confirmed time and again in Mike's life. While his thought processes may be jumbled, Mike has used whatever process he has to thwart the law, sidestep society's norms and passively defy all authority. All along the way he has been given chances over and over again, but soon things will come to screeching halt as a result of the adult criminal justice system.
The community will be a little safer when that day arrives. And maybe, just maybe, so will Mike.