It's been some time since I have blogged. At least two months, in fact. I figure that my cynicism regarding parenting is probably not what those in the blogosphere want to read about, but at the same time I'm sure there are parents out there who feel like I do, so at the very least I can reflect the thoughts of others. As challenging as a cynic is, a lonely cynic is probably even more destructive. So, for what it is, here is an update.
Yesterday started fairly well for me. Friday is my usual day of the week "off," by which I mean I do not come even close to my church office or pastoral responsibilities (unless, of course, there happens to be a funeral or some other difficult to schedule event). I have a sense of freedom on Friday's and seek to enjoy it with all my might. By mid-morning, however, my aspirations had already been shattered by a scream fest involving my wife and our oldest daughter, who was demanding transportation to a distant community so that she could visit her boyfriend. This interaction has a long history filled with many complicating factors, and I will not go down that road. It's just too fraught with complexity, and it is simply what it is. (Please, no moralizing comments from blog readers at this point. We are years beyond that).
Anyway, with wife and oldest daughter on their way out of town, I set out to complete some of my personal day-off tasks. Within an hour or so I received word from my wife that there was news she needed to share. Before I go there, let me just share this irony of life. A week ago I was in a week-long training, in which one of the ice breakers was for each participant to share two pieces of information -- one true and one false -- about one's life.
The two I selected (one true, one false) were: (1) my mother is a logger and (2) I am a grandfather. Little did I know that within a week's time I would discover that both statements would be true, and I'm not talking about the "my mother is a logger." I've known that for more than forty years now.
So, suffused with the knowledge that our sixteen-year-old daughter is growing a new life within herself, I arrived back home to hear from the oldest son we have living with us, "Dad, the sheriff was here today." I said, "Oh?" "Yeah," he responded, "he wanted to know if we knew were Mike [our twenty-year old son who has already been in jail numerous times and served a stint in prison for felony convictions] is. I told him we hadn't seen him for a long time, but the cop asked if he could look through our house to make sure he wasn't here." This son has been diagnosed years ago with an expressive language disorder, so sometimes it's bit frustrating to talk with him, especially in situations involving crisis, because his ability to organize and express his thoughts is quite disjoined. "So," I said with my irritation than necessary, "what was the cop doing here?" "Um, he just said that if we see Mike we need to tell him that if he is seen on [our local high school] their property again he's going to be arrested."
Nice. Sixteen-year-old daughter with child. Twenty-year-old son on the verge of arrest ... again.
In what seemed like minutes later, although it was actually a couple of hours, I received the third piece of news. Claudia received a call from aforementioned daughter who had talked with our eighteen-year-old son's girlfriend. Our eighteen-year-old son recently decided that he would leave the group home he had been living in (a place that covered his room, board and transportation free of charge under a state program) so that he could take up residence with his fifteen-year-old girlfriend and her mother.
And yes, in case you are wondering, we did beg, plead and explain to our son that if he was sexually involved with a girl of that age that he could be charged with statutory rape under Minnesota statute.
And yes, he is currently in a county jail in Minnesota on two charges of criminal sexual conduct. The first charge carries with it a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $30,000. The second charge carries with it a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $20,000. And yes, according to the statute (which I read online, but admittedly only as a lay person, and not as an attorney) consent does not constitute legal permission. Our son is a very serious situation. And, as it has been every time for the past seven years, he has chosen his own way and not ours.
So there it is ... serious situations facing 25% of our children. On days like these I wonder why I signed up to be an adoptive parent. They could have been making these same choices as children who aged out of the foster care system without the supposed advantage of having committed, loving parents.
I am disillusioned and despairing tonight. If only there were an award of some sort for parents with the most bad news in one day. There isn't, of course, but for today I think my cynical muse will just call it the Triple Crown Day of Parenting.