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Lost, that is what I would call him.

Never to be found?

Wandering around.

Trouble, the kind he might never find a way out of.

Keep him in your prayers because no one else cares.

Homeless, yet at times living in my home.

It’s too cold to be sleeping on a park bench.

Sleeping on the floor in my son’s room.

Arms wrapped around the dog at night for comfort.

Keep him in your prayers because no one else cares.

Bouncing from home to home…only 17.

Skipping out of school.

No hope?

Will he even graduate?

Keep him in your prayers because no one else cares.

Numbing his mind with whatever he can find.

He could die on the streets and no one would lose sleep.

Numb, the word permanently etched on his face

under his eye with a vacant stare.

It’s been a long time since he cut his hair.

Keep him in your prayers because no one else cares.

He’s drowning and pulling others down with him.

We had to break free of his grip.

Our son, we can only help save one.

But he is not out of the water yet..

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Parenthood watch

We saw the first snowfall at our new house when the parents of Alex’s friend arrived on the chilly autumn Saturday afternoon. It felt rather ominous of what was yet to come, but at the same time brilliant and beautiful.

The other parents were concerned about how much partying our sons were doing. We decided to get together as a group with another set of parents and just talk, a support group so to say for parents of wayward sons. These boys are all good kids really. They just took a detour down the wrong path. They are partying and failing classes. They aren’t picking fights, stealing, destroying property…

I am making an effort to stop lying to myself. Part of that means facing the fact that my son may never go to college. I thought up to a month ago that he was going to college after graduating. Back when he was in grade school, Alex wanted to be an accountant. I had to ask the teacher to give him more challenging math. Then in middle school and high school, he barely passed math. In fact, he is failing his math class as we speak.

I lied to myself. I’ve been lying to myself for a long time. I’ve been telling myself that he is still that boy in grade school that needs more challenging math. But he really is the party boy that doesn’t give a crap about school. If we come down on him too hard for partying, then we fear that he will leave home and not even finish high school. It is very heartbreaking to see him waste his brilliant mind. It is so much easier to lie to myself.

I don’t have any control over the path he decides to take when he leaves here. It has been causing us a lot of grief. I hope and pray that he matures and grows out of it. Until then, now we have a group of parents that are just as concerned as we are. We might not be able to keep them from taking the wrong path, but at least we don’t have to deal with this alone.

Last night we had our first parenthood watch meeting. We shared our stories about our sons which were remarkably similar…

We are going to have a parenthood watch meeting once a month and exchanged numbers. It’s time for us to work together and do what we can to make things better. It’s not a lot of fun to deal with this alone.

 

The worrisome life of the rebel’s mom

He is 17, tall, dark, and handsome. He has boyish good looks with small features. He has thick brown hair with a mess of curls.

He is seen driving around with the most beautiful girls in school. He drives fast and doesn’t wear a seat belt. In the summer months, he rides a motorcycle. I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me that you saw him with a cigarette hanging from his lips.

He is tough. He was a wrestler for many years and now he wants to be a boxer. If only his parents would say ‘yes’. He never steps down from a fight. He would fight anyone that threatens his girl. He would back up his buddies in a fight. He doesn’t let anyone tell him what to do.

He likes to do daring and dangerous deeds. He is the first to dive off the highest cliffs. He rides the scariest roller coasters…he skateboards..plays football..He has no fear. He demands respect.

He can mesmerize audiences with his ability to perform. He learns how to play almost any instrument he picks up. For awhile, he played an electric guitar in a garage band.

He is smart but only willing to work hard when he wants to. He is good at chess and leads his friends into gaming battles of strategy.

He is quiet and mysterious which beckons to be drawn out. He is a bad ass, a rebel…not easily tamed. He wears a lot of black. He is every bit ‘bad boy’ and not a bit ‘nice guy’. He is humorous, exciting, and adventure seeking. He likes to party and have fun. He never cries or shows signs of perceived weakness. He is honest and stands up for what he believes in.

He has a lot of qualities that most young women seem to find irresistible.

He also has a lot of qualities that make his mother (even if she was a calm woman, which she is not) feel worried.

What is the meaning?

Are you there God? Just show me a sign. Let me know that I am not walking alone. Sometimes I feel alone.

I am angry dealing with a rebellious 17 year old. Maybe someday I can look back and laugh at this. Maybe it will be like the time when his buddies and him mooned his classmates at recess in grade school. I laugh about that now.

Even though I am angry, I still feel love. He is a good person. He said that most teenagers would jump at the chance to have a cabin to party at with free alcohol. Perhaps that is true. He didn’t partake of the property destruction.

Last week my son texted me about saving a bird. He saw it as he was leaving for school flapping on the ground. The bird hit the garage door and was bleeding from the head. I tried to save it, but it was too far gone.

Doesn’t God care for the sparrows? Doesn’t God care even more about me?

I have been thinking a lot the past few days. I don’t think I feel angry about my current situation as much as I do about the past. It brings me back to a time that I didn’t feel like God was there for me, for my mom..

My mom is right up there at the top of God’s most faithful servants list. I, perhaps, am at the top of the doubting Thomas list.

You see, my mother’s life has been difficult since her first premature breath in a foreign country. I can almost understand if God is not there for me…but my mother??

She had to deal with 4 teenagers at a time…two that were severely depressed. One that was into alcohol and drugs…and my brother Matt, the Helen Keller of mental illness…anxiety, autism, schizophrenia, and tourette’s. He was often violent. My dad was also depressed. When he wasn’t depressed, he was angry and cruel…

God, were you with my mother the many nights she cried alone??

Does what I went through have purpose?? What is the meaning? Did I even help one person live another day besides myself??

Are you there God? Can you show me a sign?

 

Another nightmare…

Last night I had another nightmare…

I dreamed that I was pregnant.

As a woman in my 40’s (AND the mother of 3 teenagers!!!!!!!), that is my worst nightmare.

My 13 year old daughter is currently going through a rebellious stage. She currently hates me. Yesterday she mentioned that she likes her brother more than me. Trust me, that is bad! Seriously, what did I do?? That’s right! I breathe. I’m annoying. I wouldn’t understand.

She told me this past weekend that she is a psychopath because of something she read on the internet. Of course, from a very reliable source.  Oh, and a few of her friends are psychopaths too. WTH??

Her worry over it tells me that there is zero possibility. That and my psychology degree. That, my psychology degree, and that she couldn’t hurt a flea. Trust me, I know THIS..

I only know one psychopath, my best friend Cindy’s ex-husband. He started another family while he was married to her. His oldest son was born a few months before their first son was born. He did crazy things like drive into a tree so he had an excuse not to visit his girlfriend after his wife gave birth.

Thankfully, I only had the pleasure of meeting her ex once!

Maybe she should start a blog.

Cindy is happy now. She married a wonderful man named Ted. They had teenagers in the house when she got pregnant in her 40’s. My nightmare is her dream come true.

I have to remember that this will pass..

Maybe someday I will even laugh about it.

Yes, I’m certain that I will….when my kids call me someday with teenager issues…while I am out traveling the world..

 

Judged

I always thought that I was a really good judge of character. Don’t we all? I have heard people admit that they are selfish, lazy, unorganized, vain, but I don’t recall anyone ever saying to me that they are a bad judge of character. Why is that?  Do we want to see the best (or worst) in people despite contrary evidence? I have been struggling with this concept lately. I think most people are embarrassed to admit that they were wrong about someone’s character when their hearts were broken or money was stolen.

I met Jake a couple of years back when he still was a boy. The first time I saw him, he was walking his dog by our house. At the time, I thought maybe he would be a good friend for my son. One day I just happened to be looking out the window when Jake walked by. I just let my dog out and was looking towards the road when I saw Jake’s dog drag him over the meet my dog. In the process, Jake got clotheslined on our mailbox. The dog further dragged him into the ditch. Jake laid wounded on the grass with blood coming out of his neck. I freaked out. I sent my oldest daughter out to get him while I panicked. Eventually I bandaged up some of his wounds and gave him a warm washcloth to put on his scraped and bloody neck. I tracked down his muddy mutt and loaded them into my car to give them a ride home. Welcome to the neighborhood!

A few days later, Jake’s mom sent me a note thanking me for taking care of her son. I still have it which is remarkable because I throw everything out. Over the years, Jake and my son became very good friends. I always liked Jake. He was courteous, quiet, happy, friendly, and kind. He always thanked me when I gave him a ride to school. He was the kind of kid that I wanted my son to hang out with.

Then this summer, things changed. Jake grew into a troubled teen. He was no longer happy. He stopped thanking me for rides. He went to the gas station and stole a pack of cigarettes. His parents made him return them and apologize to the owners. He was grounded for over a month from everything. Then one cool rainy night, he ran away which I blogged about previously. He vanished for almost 48 hours, then went back to school like none of it ever happened. He was present, but not quite there.

A few days after Jake went back to school, his mom texted me with concern. She said that a teacher asked the students to draw a picture of what they were doing for the weekend. Jake drew a picture of himself alone in the corner of his room with his knees folded and his head down in despair.

Then a few weeks later, a note came home from school stating that a student talked about bringing a gun to school. Apparently, a boy had created a hit list with 6 names on it and stated that he was going to bring 7 bullets to school. It was Jake. Jake said that he didn’t mean it, but he was sent away for a couple of weeks for treatment.

Last week I saw Jake walking his dog when I went on a long run. I asked him how he was doing. He smiled and replied that he was doing good. I just have to wonder if his smile was sinister or sincere. I always liked Jake and thought he was a good person. I still want to believe that despite all of the contrary evidence. How could I be so wrong?? In my mind, he is still the sweet and caring boy that I first met years ago. Not the troubled teen that he has become. I have been having a really hard time with this. I feel unsettled, I want to trust him again but can’t. I feel thankful that the troubles with my teens are trivial in comparison. I worry about his family. I pray that Jake can find the friendly and happy boy he once was.

Truly scary

Sometimes the scariest stories are the true ones. This story happened many years ago when I still lived in my parents house. It happened this time of year. It happened in the middle of a dark night like most scary stories do. I awoke to the flashing lights of police cars. We lived in a rural area outside of an unincorporated town, our closest neighbor a half mile away. I was afraid and woke up my dad. I remember my dad telling me that the last time he saw this many police cars near town that the bank had been robbed. 

Sadly, a bank robbery in the middle of the night would have been preferable to what really happened. What really happened?? A car full of partying teens, young and full of life, had been out drinking recklessly abandoning their seat selts and good sense. The driver thought it would be fun to drive fast, really fast. He hit a patch of black ice, rolled the car multiple times, and flipped the car into a ditch ejecting the passengers. The driver walked away with a few bumps and bruises. Two of the passengers mangled bodies were taken to the morgue that night. The field was a graveyard of broken bodies, broken glass, shattered lives, and a damaged car. It was my uncle’s job to take his wrecker and remove the car remains from the field. 

The next morning it was as if the night before never happened. Well, not exactly. It didn’t turn out like that. My mom was taking a walk near the scene of the accident. She saw something so mortifying that she called the police. She was really shook up on the phone. She exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, someone needs to come out here right now, they forgot the face”. “I took anatomy and physiology in college and I know what a face looks like”. “Please come it’s an emergency!”  “I don’t want children to see the faces that you left behind”. The police came back that morning. My mom showed them the faces that she found half covered in snow. But they were only masks. The accident victims decorated the inside of their car with car accident Halloween masks. Gory, mutilated, mangled masks mocking the shattered lives left behind that night in the cold unforgiving snow. 

Running away

I thought that after how hectic last week was that this week would be a breeze. Boy was I wrong! This week has been just as stressful if not more so. I left off with recent events telling about my brother’s wedding, coming back home and getting a cold, and ended Monday with the news that a best friend of my son’s ran away from home. Things would’ve probably ended up fine if he would have came home later the night he left, but he did not. 

My son and his friend Logan were the last ones to see Jake. Jake bragged on the bus ride home Monday night that he was going to run away from home. His friends didn’t believe him because he said that before several times and never did until Monday. Monday night our summer days reached an end. A cold front brought the wind and rain. Logan saw Jake walking down the road in the pouring rain with a backpack on. Logan called my son and they attempted to stop Jake from running away. He had a backpack full of clothing, water, food, and a couple knives. He told the boys he was going to catch a train out of town. The boys tried to stop him, but he ran off into a corn field. 

At this point, the boys went over to Jake’s house to alert his mother. Jake was born to teen parents who ended up marrying other people and having other children. He was having a lot of conflict with his stepdad. His father lives out of the state. I thought Jake would come home that night. 

Tuesday morning arrived, but Jake had not. His dad flew in to help try to find him. The neighborhood was scoured. Abandoned buildings, deer stands, unlocked sheds, farms, the railroad tracks, the park, fields, and woods were searched with no signs of Jake’s whereabouts. After school, my son and a group of boys looked for him in their secret hiding spots. I offered to search the corn field where he was last seen. All I found was a battery and an empty sleeping pill wrapper on the ground. The corn was over my head and I was searching after dusk. I heard noises out in the field and was convinced there was a bear coming for me. It was scary. When it got dark, we all met back by the road. A night bird cried out. Jake’s mother mournfully responded by shouting out Jake’s name. He was not there. 

We went back to Jake’s house where the boys were questioned some more. Jake’s stepdad was pouring over Google maps and also was looking over the railroad track locations. Jake’s grandmother cried. No one had slept the night before, no one had eaten. There were tears, anxiety, and anger. It was heart wrenching to see the family’s pain. They were so desperate trying everything with no answers. We decided to search outside of a trailer of a friend of the boys that recently moved out that had a broken window. Jake’s dad cried out his name in anguish receiving nothing but empty silence. After this, I took the boys home. It was going to be a cold night, near the freezing point with a boy who ran away a day ago into the pouring rain. We feared hypothermia. We feared death. 

Last night Facebook got flooded with missing person posters. Jake was spotted near a highway about 30 miles away. This morning brought relief that up until last night, Jake was alive! A couple of hours later, Jake was found. 

All of this brought back memories of the times that my autistic brother Matt ran away from home as a child. Multiple times he ran away. At times we had a search for him in the woods near our house. We feared for his safety. He couldn’t take care of himself. It brought back brief moments of the terror we went through searching for a lost child. 

Lately I have seen a lot of banter going back and forth about who has the hardest job as a parent. I want to offer my opinion. Parenting is hard! It doesn’t matter if you are a biological parent, a step parent, a foster parent, a parent of one or ten, or a parent of the disabled. If you want to be a good parent, it is difficult. It takes everything that you have. I think that parents who have both disabled and “normal” kids probably have one of the toughest roads to walk. We need to work together to bring our lost children back home. I am not sure what will happen with Jake now, but I feel a lot of relief that he made it home safe.

Keeping my head above water

Some days I feel like I’m drowning. Today is one of those days. I don’t feel like writing, working, running, and my favorite songs seem to have lost their melody. My rage has finally turned into sadness, complacency. I am trying to keep my head above water. 

This last year with my son has been hell. I am afraid to answer my phone or door when his friends parents come calling. Over the past year there was a prank on another friend that went a little too far, a friend got past the school firewall and made his school computer into a gaming computer which resulted in suspended privileges, my previous honor student got mainly D’s and F’s. In the past couple of weeks it progressed to picking him up from a park just before getting into a fight with other boys, condoms, sleeping pills, his friend stealing cigarettes from a gas station that they smoked, and another friend buying pot from the middle school. My husband and I have been beside ourselves with anger. My husband’s rage spilling out like a fire breathing dragon. Mine bottled up inside devouring me from within. Maxed out on antacids, having to leave work for awhile to deal with nausea and stomach pain. 

My husband and I have been too angry to even talk to each other without snapping. I feel completely alone. Although it seems like a lot of parents are having the same issues with their teenage sons. We have always been the leaders, the people that other people go to for advice. I am so happy that my daughters are overachievers. At least I don’t feel like a total parenting failure. I feel guilty for wanting to be an empty nester. Parenting teens is similar to poking yourself repeatedly in the eyeball with needles. 

Then there is the matter of finances. Taxes due. A crown that was put off for years because of no dental insurance. The wisdom teeth extraction that insurance didn’t cover. School expenses. The list goes on and on. Our income varies so much that one day we will be ok and the next day we will not. My husband obsessively worries about finance, probably because he grew up poor. His mother was not good with money.  She argued with us that her credit card was her money then got into credit card debt and asked us for money. Or a couple months back when she called crying saying she was the victim of identity theft because someone took out a large amount of money from her debit card at a casino. Turns out that someone was her. 

But all is not lost. My husband and I will be flying out to Texas in a couple of days for business. Maybe it will be a good time to get away from the stress and reconnect. We will be seeing lots of friends there. Then we will be home for a day then heading across the state for my brother’s wedding. I probably won’t have a lot of time to write in the next week or so, but i just wanted to let you know that I am ok and not going anywhere, figuratively anyway. 

A raging lioness

Sorry, today is not finding me in a better mood. I feel like a lioness roaring over  her lost cub. That is how I feel now, raging and roaring. Even after a good hard run this morning, I still feel like breaking things. I want to smash every glass in the house until I realized how much plastic crap we really have. You see, I feel like I lost my son. In fact, I know I did. Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen it coming. I knew it would happen, I just didn’t think it would be this soon. The late night calls the night before the marathon. The message he left during always asking if he can hang out with his friends. He never once asked me how the marathon was, he told me he didn’t care about me anymore. He says his life was all about his friends now. Then the texts started coming from a friend’s mom. She was worried because her son stopped talking to her. She found condoms, a lighter, and cigarettes in his room. Before this happened, I also found a lighter which my son claimed was for lighting off fireworks which didn’t put my mind at ease. 

Then yesterday it happened. I received a phone call at work from another friend’s mom stating that her son confessed to smoking with my son. I will leave it at that. A search of his room also turned up condoms and OTC sleeping pills. I am so angry. He is grounded right now, but he said that things most likely won’t change. Just another thing I am bracing myself for. I feel terribly alone right now, but I am sure that many parents have been in this place. I remember my daughter telling me lately that the daughter of one of her favorite teachers got caught having sex on the bus. There is a new rule in place that boys have to sit on one side of the bus and girls on the other. Oh my gosh, does it ever end? Parents of young children, enjoy being with them while you can. I hope you never have a prodigal son. 

On a good note, I found Mark and Carla’s wedding gift. That is done. No, it is not a lifetime supply of birth control. Tempting though. I also found some Pink Floyd undies on clearance. Woo hoo, that should cover the dark side of my moon. Lol. I am happy about one more thing….I have been trying to find the girl that finished the last difficult hours of the marathon with me on Facebook with no success. She found me yesterday. She was using a fake name, so it would have been impossible to find her. 

I also decided that I will tell my mom that Luke and I would like to spend some time with my mom on vacation without Matt. I don’t need to stress Luke out about that. I doubt if my week could get anymore stressful anyway.