I have a mantra that I have spouted for over thirty years. The truth,no matter how painful,can be dealt with. The only flaw in my mantra is the painful part.The pain has to be walked through.
Distraction and denial only work for so long and then reality shows its ugly head again. Hope is nice,
but it changes its definition as reality is faced.
I am watching two grown children pick up the wreckage of their and their children’s dreams, all the while trying to cope with the wreckage of some of my own. For them this is new. For me, well,I have walked a similar road before. It does not make walking this one any easier by the way. The only advantage I have is one of perspective. I have survived other wreaked hopes and dreams. I will survive these. My grown children are not so certain. This is their first experience with making hard decisions without any good options. This is the first time they have been betrayed. I,of course, have the added grief of watching them suffer. Isn’t it funny how much watching grown children suffer still hurts? It does though.It hurts a lot. Kissing it better no longer helps.
In some ways,the outside crisis have been a distraction from reality. The reality of my three here at home. Our long time hope (fantasy) of “healing”,of mitigating enough to make inconsequential,has not exactly turned out like we wished. My children are still neurologically damaged. They are doing very well considering where they started from.Amazingly well,in fact. Some days,weeks,occasionally even a month or two,we can pretend to ourselves they are healed. (well,the older two at least. There is now no fantasy about my almost sixteen year old). The truth is,they still need us to be there for them in the same way they did ten years ago. We can,and do leave them alone now. But,it is with angst. When we came back from up north we found them sitting in a very cold house because they forgot to turn on the heaters. They survived,but I felt awful. It says something when a fifteen,nineteen and twenty year old cannot remember to flip a switch when they feel cold. At least it did not freeze and no pipes burst.
To have brought them with us,when my mother-in-law was dying would have meant leaving them unattended in my in-laws empty house.They would not have been welcome. They would have been ostracized and insulted (in a nice christian manner) by my husband’s family. My In-Law” would not even let my nineteen year old son be a pall bearer. He isn’t real family.To say this hurt my husband would be a major understatement. But then many things about those ten days hurt my husband. Reality again.
So the kids stayed home alone for the very first time-not only over night-but for ten days. It was the lesser of two evils.
Is it any wonder my younger son began peeing on things again?
Chronological ages aside,all three still have magical thinking.All three have no concept whatsoever of “real life”. My twenty year old is about to buy her first car. It will sit in our driveway for what may be an extended period of time because she will not pass her driving test next Tuesday. She,however thinks she will. We have given her the Scariest New Driver In The Family Award. She does not know where her car is. She does not see the other drivers on the road. She needs tons of practice and thinks she is proficient.
It is my nineteen year old who hurts the most. When he is sharp,he is so sharp.He works hard (for others). He is funny. He is kind.He is dependable (for others). When he is sharp we forget he cannot sustain it. We forget he too has no cause and effect. He too cannot see if A=B and B=C,then A must=C. It simply isn’t there.
With the annoying exception of sulking like younger children,being furtive over perfectly acceptable things,and sneaking thinks they are allowed to have,they are very easy kids to have around.
Our problems come when we want them to be young adults.
They are young teens in adult bodies.
This is where reality inspires grief.
So much potential was destroyed in utero,by neglect,by malnutrition,by multiple moves while in state care. We see them as they could have been,would have been if only…
My baby is even harder.
He is sixteen on the thirty-first of this month.
He has no interests.
He has no friends.
He wants nothing for his birthday except cake and ice cream.
He chose a public park for his birthday celebration. We made the mistake of offering him Six Flags or the Big Water Park. He ticked and went sideways. Not good. Simple park and pool it is.
He is happiest when he lets himself play with his nephews. They adore him. He loves to play trains and Lego’s and make crafts.He plays with them.
We have worked so hard with him, he does not qualify for any help. Not that our state provides a whole lot of help to begin with.
He,too is a good kid. There is not a mean bone in his body. If it were socially acceptable he would still hold his daddy’s hand in public. But it isn’t. It attracts attention of the type that is unwanted.People see a middle aged white man holding the hand of a teen aged Hispanic boy. They do not have innocent thoughts. So, his dad gets his touch in with with pats on the back and punches to the arm. It is safer for my son that way.