Saturday, December 08, 2007

Why I'm Not Feeling So Bad

In the past I've really struggled with asking our son Mike to leave our home. I have felt like a bad parent, like I was failing him, that if we just tried one more time it would work out better. But I'm not feeling so bad this morning, and here's why. Yesterday Mike did not return home after school, which is when I wanted to talk with him about his need to leave. By the time he arrived home it was nearly dinner time, and I was involved in cleaning up and preparing dinner for our guests who would be arriving soon. Mike came tromping into the house and within minutes was preparing his snowboarding gear, for what I thought to be his snowboarding venture the next morning with our friend MB who had flown in from California specifically for that event.

I decided to break the news to him. "Mike you can't live here anymore. You're going to need to pack your stuff and find a nother place to live." "Why?" "Because you won't follow our family rules, you never tell us where you are, you steal our stuff, your creepy friends come to the back door at all hours looking for you. This just isn't working out." "Well, what's the biggest thing I need to do in order to stay?" "It's too late, Mike. I have told you all along what you need to do, and you just won't comply with it. You need to have your stuff packed and ready to be gone tomorrow night after you're done snowboarding with Mike B." "Well, what if I get your iPod back for you. Will that change things?" "Mike, I've given you seven days to return the iPod, and I still don't see it. If I get it back it will take care of the police issue, but that's all." "Well, you're always blaming me when stuff turns up missing." "You're right, Mike, which is why you really need to live somewhere else. That way we can't blame you anymore." We had a few more brief snippets of conversation.

In the midst of all I was doing Mike announces, "Dad, I'm going snowboarding." "Right now?" I ask. "Yeah," a look of bewilderment on his face. "Well, Mike, you realize that Mike B is arriving in just a few minutes, right?" "And, so ... " is his response. "So, it would be appropriate for you to stick around and eat dinner with us since he flew all the way from California to see you and to take you snowboarding all day tomorrow." He gave no response, but I could tell from his demeanor he had no intention of eating with us or greeting his benefactor. Within minutes he had disappeared into the cold Minnesota night, so that by the time Mike B. and our other guests had arrived our Mike was no where to be found.

The fifteen or so (I always lose track) of the rest of us enjoyed our dinner together. We were chatting at at the table some time later when our Mike, his face reddened from the bitterly cold evening, trotted into the kitchen fully dressed in snowboarding apparel, marched to the refrigerator and poured himself a glass of milk. There were a few abbreviated interchanges, and within fifteen minutes our guests were moving toward to door to leave for the night. Our guest Mike (from California) looked for our Mike, but he had already disappeared back into the night. We were all a little confused to have seen him for a few minutes and then for him to have vanished again. "Welcome to our life," was all Claudia could tell our friend Mike B.

We were sound asleep at 12:30 this morning when our Mike knocked on our bedroom door and announced, "I'm going to a friend's house tonight, but I'll be here at 8 in the morning to go snowboarding with Mike." Claudia groggily responded to his interruption, and it was quiet until we awakened a few hours later. It is now 8:35 and our Mike telephone just a few minutes ago let us know that he would be coming to our house to meet Mike B. for the snowboarding adventure.

I guess I shouldn't feel too bad. It's one thing for an eighteen-year-old to disregard his parent and their rules, but when this same kid treats with disrespect someone who has flown across the country basically to see him, I realize that I'm in pretty good company. And when, in the past seven days, Mike has spent less than half of those sleeping in our home, I guess he's got plenty of friends who can give him a place to stay more permanently.

I'm not feeling so bad this morning about what has to happen today. I'm not excited about the process, but we've been through this transition so many times before I know I'm going to be just fine. And, surprisingly, so will Mike.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

You know, you are so right about Mike being okay. It wouldn't be okay for you or I to live like this, we would probably be miserable living the life he's chosen. He seems to be quite content living the way he does - not investing anything into your family and hanging around with people who have the same questionable values he seems to. I know it isn't for lack of effort on you or Claudia's part because you've already done much more for him that my husband ever would. Mike may not be capable of change due to the severity of his FASD (do any of us really know what these kids are capable of?) but he also cannot keep putting his family in danger. Geez, you wouldn't let a border treat you this way, why put up with it from your son? You've been very clear with him. I tell my kids with FASD that if they need to write things down so they remember, go right ahead, but don't keep telling me they didn't know or they forgot what they were supposed to do or what our expectations are because that is not going to fly in the real world where "ignorance of the law is no excuse" for bad behavior.

I know this is extremely hard on your family, but as you said (and you need to believe), Mike will be okay - and the rest of your family will be too.