Parenting an adult son with FASD (and other assorted diagnoses, including PTSD and RAD) is always a mystery. There are moments that seem like sincere, honest connections between two people who love each other. These moments are infrequent, and overshadowed by the consistent intuitive sense that I am about to be taken advantage of once again. Over the years (Mike has been part of our family for nearly ten years; he is now 19) I have learned to erect boundaries between him and our family, for their protection.
While Mike is not violent or aggressive towards family members, he has stolen from us for years, and when allowed to be in our house (we have had a restraining order against him now for nearly a year) has brought illicit drugs, alcohol and questionable friends doing the same with him. His erratic behaviors and unsavory companion choices have led us to take legal action to keep him away from our physical property and our minor children.
He has now been out of jail eighteen days. And tonight he will go back. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
This week I haven't heard much from Mike. In the first two weeks following his release I heard from him fairly regularly, at last once every 36 hours, but by the time this week rolled around it has been about once every 48 to 60 hours. Yesterday morning a call came on my cell phone while I was at the office sporting a number that looked vaguely familiar. Because Mike has no cell phone he uses whatever phone is at his disposal at the moment, so there hasn't been one consistent number. I answered. It was, in deed, Mike.
"Hey, dad. You think you could come pick me up in [a town 30 miles away from us]."
"Well, I'm at the office, Mike, and I have an appointment in about an hour from now. What are you doing [in that town]? I thought you could not be out of the county limits."
"Yeah, well, I just can't leave the state. I can be out of the county, but I can' t be out overnight."
"It's 8:30, Mike. Were you out of the county last night?"
"Um, yeah, I was, actually. But don't tell [the parole officer]."
"Well, I'm not going to call her up, Mike, but if she asks me I will tell her the truth."
"OK. Whatever. You think you can give me a ride back?"
I sigh inwardly, but I have told Mike that I will do what I can to assist him in his life on the "outside." "I can give you a ride, but I will have to leave now. Where will you be?"
There is muffled conversation as he puts his hand over what we would have called in years past "the receiver" (I'm not sure what that's called on a cell phone). "Can I call you back in five minutes?" he asks. I agree and the call ends.
The minutes tick away. It is now ten minutes later, and I know that if I do not walk out of the office at that very moment I will not have time to both provide transportation and meet my appointment at 10 AM. I decide to begin the trek and call on the way so I don't lose any time.
I am seven minutes into my trip when the cell phone rings. "Dad?" "Yes, Mike, I'm on my way. Where will you be?" "Umm. I hope you haven't gone too far yet." "Not really, just about seven miles." "Good. My friends can give me a ride back."
I am both irritated (but not that much, since it's only seven minutes into the thirty minute one way journey) and relieved. Mike continues, "Yeah, my friend has a court appearance in [the metro area, which is 90 minutes away], so I'm going to go with him and then we'll come back tonight."
"Do you have to work today, Mike?" I ask, reminding him that if he misses much more work time he will be fired.
"At 4 this afternoon. I'll have time to get back. Oh, does Kyle still live [in the same metro area where he is headed]?"
"Yes, he does."
"What's his cell phone number?'
I hesitate. For years I have not given that information to Mike, but now Kyle is a college graduate, a responsible mature adult, working full-time and occasionally bemoaning his lack of involvement in Mike's life. (Kyle and MIke are birth brothers). I agree to give him the cell number but will not (and Mike did not ask) disclose Kyle's address. I figure the worse that can happen is that Kyle can choose not to answer the call.
I do not hear from MIke again for 24 hours. This morning he calls me back. "Um, dad, I'm going back to jail tonight."
"You are?" I ask, unsurprised, but maintaining an even tone with my son.
"Yeah. The parole officer found out I was out of the county overnight, and she's telling me I need to turn myself into jail before the end of the day. I'll have to stay the weekend so that she can see me on Monday. It's bogus, though, to have to go to jail because of that."
"Well, Mike, it is part of the terms of your release, you know. You have to stay in the county or you are violating your release."
"Yeah. Umm. I'm wondering if you could pay my Huber fees?"
I pause. I know what Huber Fees are, but I want to make sure I know what he is talking about. (In Minnesota, perhaps in other states, too, "Huber" is the reference to work release for the incarcerated).
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I have to pay $60 if they are going to let me work this weekend. Otherwise I can't get out and I'll lose my job."
I am reluctant to do this, but I am caught between two places. I can say "no" and quash his ability to work and perhaps result in his job loss. I can say "yes" and at least allow him to continue to work. I am unhappy with either solution, and in years past it was very clear what I would have done. I would have said, "Sorry. You knew the risks, you took them and you get what you get."
I decide this time to test the situation. "I suppose I will do that, Mike."
"Thanks. Do you think you can also buy me a warm winter coat?"
"Pardon?" I ask, incredulous, but really I shouldn't be. The past decade should have taught me that there are no limits to the requests of an attachment disordered person. I continue, "No, MIke. I'm not going to buy you a coat. That's why you have a job."
"Oh. I was hoping you could take me to [sporting good chain] and get me a cheap one, like one for about $150."
I am astounded that he would think, first of all, that $150 is a "cheap winter coat," and secondly that I would consider it.
"No, Mike. I don't have that much money to spend."
"So, you can give me the $60, though?"
"Yes, I will do that. Who should I make the check to?"
"I don't know. Why don't you just bring cash?"
"Um, no, Mike. I'm not going to give you cash. I'll only write a check."
"Yeah, but I don't know who it should made to."
"Well, you can ask at the jail when you go there. I'll give you a check with the 'payable to' line not filled in. You can fill it in when you know."
Now, dear reader, before you chastise me for foolish gullibility, understand that this is part of my plan. I want to see if Mike will, in fact, do what I've asked of him.
"So, dad, you'll give me a check with the 'payable to' line blank and then I can just fill it in?"
"Yes, Mike. You will fill it in at the jail with what they tell you. Where do you want me to meet you?"
We discuss a couple of options, and I hear him consulting in a muffled fashion with his companions. "How about [the name of the bank where my checking account is held]?"
The location immediately make me suspicious, but I agree. In a few minutes I arrive in the parking lot and pull up to the car in which are four young adult males. I stop, Mike gets out and comes to my car. He sits in the front seat and bemoans his fate. "It's just bogus, dad. She [the parole officer] shouldn't be making me go to jail over this."
I remind Mike, patiently, that he has violated the terms of his release. I ask how she knows he was even out of the county overnight.
"I don't know. She probably could tell from the phone number I used to call her or something."
He is prevaricating, filling space (aka "lying") hoping I will not think there's more to the story. I am pretty sure there must be more to the story, though.
"Yeah, dad, I was just thinking, it's going to be more than $60. There's a booking fee, too. Do you have an extra $10?"
"No, Mike, I do not. My checkbook is at home."
"Oh." He hesitates, can think of no other way to add to his monetary booty and opens the door.
He gets out, grabs the clean clothes that I have recently washed for him and today delivered to him, and I say, "Give me a call next week when you know what's going on." He says, "No, I'll call you tonight." We exchange goodbyes.
The car to which he returns does not move. In fact there sees to be no inclination at all for them to move. Truth by told, it seems Mike is stalling. With exaggerated effort he steps out of the car, takes out his freshly washed hoodie and begins to put it on. It takes a long time. I decide to pretend I am oblivious to the tactic, and I depart.
But I drive across the highway to a parking lot where I can watch what transpires. It takes a couple of minutes to get there, but the car still has not moved. I wait one minute. Two minutes. Three minutes. Four minutes later one of Mike's friends from the white car exits the bank doors and gets into the car. Immediately the car departs.
I have good reason to believe I have been set up. While I do not yet have the details in hand, I think the truth is something akin to this. The reason Mike's parole officer knows he was outside the county is because he was involved in something illegal there (how else would she have reason to know he was gone?) He has been ordered to present himself at law enforcement tonight because he will have a hearing to determine whether his parole has been revoked, and that hearing will not take place until early next week. He needs to be in jail to ensure that he does not abscond. The $60 is not for any "Huber Release" fees. It is for his friend in the car to repay back for something. While his friend would have preferred the $70 [or the $150 referenced above for a new winter coat], he will take $60 for now.
As soon as my check appears online (so that I can see who is on the "payable to" line) I will be able to close my "case." If, in fact, the check shows no evidence of having gone through the county law enforcement system to pay "fees," this may well be the last time I will help Mike financially.
And, if it turns out that the recommendation is that Mike serve his time [twenty-two months in prison] for violating his parole yet again, it may be that I will not need to worry about it for some time.