Thursday, November 08, 2007

Four Days and Holding My Breath

It has now been four days since Mike re-emerged in our lives, and I have been holding my breath to see how long it’s going to last this time. Our ten-year history with him has left me more resilient that I ever thought I might become in my life, inured to possible disappointment and galvanized for the pain when the fall comes. I can see myself now as a realistic optimist, which is a much better place than I would have been even a year ago, when I was dismal on most any topic related to this son of ours.

I believe I have made peace with the idea that Mike is now legally and in other ways responsible for his decisions. Much of the peace comes from the fact that no longer will Claudia and I be held legally responsible for his actions. We will never again face a CHIPS (“child in need of protection or services”) petition on his behalf. We will never again have to listen to well-intentioned but naive social workers intimating that somehow it was the emotional climate in our home that made Mike do what he did. These days the decisions Mike makes are solely his, with all the consequences applying thereto.

What this means for me is that I can focus on supporting him, offering him assistance as appropriate, encouraging him to make the right choices, and then allow him to choose what he will do. There is a real sense of serenity in that.

I am hopeful that our other children will recognize that the choices Mike has made have hurt him. I am less inclined to believe that they will follow in his footsteps these days (they are now mostly old enough to see the folly of that), and if they do I guess at least we have already had the experience of walking that path, so there will be few surprises.

Today I awakened at 4:45 AM to get ready for the day, woke up Mike at 5:00, and then we left for an job interview he had at 5:30. I was in the office by 6:00 AM, and heard back from Mike within 45 minutes. He does not qualify to work there (he wasn’t sure what the qualifiers were, but evidently some of it depends on income levels, and I think the questions may have confused him). He asked to return back to my office with me, where he fastidiously completed six job applications. We made the copies his probation officer requested, dropped the copies of with her, and then I dropped him off at school. At 2:45 I picked him up from school, we took his completed job applications to the various locations, and by 3:30 were back home. On the way home we picked up another job application.

Mike has been appropriate, respectful, and pleasant. If this Mike were always the one to show up in our lives, it would be a lot easier to work with him. I am hopeful that his desire to stay out of prison will be leverage enough for him to adopt the kind of lifestyle we have always offered him, one free of chemicals, criminality and despair. But, like his sister Salinda, all we can do is offer the environment and be a source of strength. He, too, will need to choose what he will do with this last, final opportunity to remain prison free.

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