The uphill battle…

Lordy I’m tired today. That’s due in part to several factors: Work, Family life and the neighbors adult son (who is a straight-up dodgy fucker who can’t resist the urge to engage in criminal behavior and therefore makes me nervy – last night he was sitting in a car out the front of our house for hours with the lights on and engine running and as soon as our regular neighborhood patrol car pulled into the subdivision he beat a hasty retreat).

Yesterday I worked a 12 hour shift and then had to hang around for a mandatory online employee meeting. Got home at 10.30pm. After chatting to the eldest, attempting to coerce the youngest into bed, showering and then stewing over the behavior of the boy child (not to mention the dodgy neighbor) I think I finally got to sleep at about 1.30am. I’m sure 5 hours of sleep is plenty for some but not me. I’m an “early to bed, early to rise type.” I don’t snooze my alarms and mornings don’t usually faze me. This morning I rolled sleepily toward the edge of the bed and almost failed to catch myself before I face planted.

So I did what any other sleep deprived human would do: ran cold water over my face and then stumbled to the kitchen to make strong strong coffee. Elixir of the Gods.

Now I’m back at work, have a full shop to clean and reorganize and eldest child wants me to find time to help her fill out her financial aid application for college. Rightio.

Let me pause for a second here though. I mentioned family stress. Now I “get” that raising children is no easy road. I expect there to be bumps and potholes along the way (especially during the teenage years). What you don’t really expect is a full blown hurricane. That’s my 15 year old son. Lordy, that child will send his Father and I to an early grave.

The boy is actually my step-son. Not that that makes much of a difference to me, he’s family, he’s my kid too. But when you have to deal with a bio mom that wants no part of a cohesive, amicable co-parenting relationship, issues occur.

Hubby had been trying to get custody of his kids for years and years. It’s fair to say that we were concerned about how the kids were being raised (on the other side of the country). But between military service and a 10 year, outright war of a divorce battle (which we unceremoniously lost – the only word I can use to describe in this circumstance), it didn’t happen. What did happen was that the second ex-wife got her way (see: the ink dried on the decree), the boy was sent to live with us.

From the word go it’s been a fractious arrangement. He’s a little firecracker. Well, not little anymore but back then he was. Full of anger, hyperactivity and resentment toward the world. I knew he wasn’t coping (the belligerence at school, the fighting/violent outbursts etc) but I’ll be damned if we could get anything more out of anyone other than “he’s just got ADHD.” I do understand that ADHD is a fairly broad diagnosis that describes a whole host of symptoms, hell I have it, but I was pretty sure there was more.

As he’s continued to grow (and grow he has – he’s now more a man stature and less a little boy) the issues have continued to get progressively worse. While the fighting at school seems to have more or less ceased, the outright defiance toward almost anyone of authority continues. The exception to this rule seems to be his JROTC instructor. Teachers mainly have to deal with his continual disruptions (and his mouth) and his Father and I have to navigate around his Jekyll and Hyde personality (which, for the most part is highly manipulative). He plays his Mom and Sister against us (not so much fun). He lacks appropriate emotional responses (or any emotional responses), is a bully (but particularly to people with weaker personalities – and it’s more mental than physical – but affects my middle daughter quite a lot). There are no rules that he won’t break and no threat of consequence that fazes him. In fact, his affect is so flat that you almost feel like you’re talking to a brick wall.

Now I understand that the kid is a boy of 15. I get that he feels trapped in a house full of females and I know that kids “act out,” try shit and make some silly decisions… but this? This cycle of bad behavior is going around and around and around and there doesn’t seem to be a break in sight.

Before you ask, yes he sees a Psych. That was prompted by the ADHD (and moreso, the ODD – Oppositional Defiance Disorder). But we’re still hitting brick walls and nothing gets through.

Last year he was caught shop lifting at Walmart. Did it bother him? Nope. He skirted that like nothing had happened. Since then he’s become a master at sneaking out of the house (deftly bypassing motion sensors on cameras by jumping out of second story windows) and now it’s drugs and (probably) risky sex. It’s not an anomaly. Kids try stuff, take stuff, do stuff, have sex etc. I get it. I used to be a teenager too (and I’m older now but I’m not that old and I’m certainly not dead!). I think it’s that everything he does is so much more extreme. It’s like a one-up on everything you might suspect a “normal” teen would do.

…and Hubs and I are just… well, devestated. Because it’s not that he can’t be a decent human being, it’s more that it’s rarely genuine when he is. It’s all a game. A big, fat, psychological, mind bending fucking game. And akin to Monopoly, it can go on and on for a damn long time.

To be fair it’s got to the stage where we’re not only questioning ourselves, our parenting skills but also what to do next. When you have a child with clear behavioral issues, it’s not as cut and dry as “spank him.” He doesn’t give a single shit. You can take everything away from him and he still doesn’t care. But it does stress us out because he’s teetering on the fine line of “the-next-step-is-jail” and I don’t want MY kid to be like the criminal adult child from next door. But the similarities are uncanny.

I’m gonna keep working on getting him some help. Both hubs and I are really stretching ourselves thin to do the best we can but even we have to come to grips with “the best is sometimes not enough.” Because he’s smart and I know he has a shit ton to offer this world if he can pull his fucking head in a walk a straighter line.

So I guess we’ll see.

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1 week ago

I had a son like that. Divorce hit him hard. Separation anxiety. He is a fine, responsible 22 year old today. What stopped that behavior you ask? It wasn’t medication, it wasn’t some psychologist, it was a private, strict, school that deals with this kind of behavior. When my son was there, I told him that if he wanted to come home, he needed to stop “fighting the system”. The school was very structured. Got up at a certain time, did school work, did chores, break time, meals, all at the certain times. Yes, he was in group therapy for anger management and private sessions too. But after 2 years at that school, and he came home a new person. I hope you can find something like that where you live. Tough love….it works. You need to deal with now, or it’s just going to get worse. I wish you best.

1 week ago

@queen_of_paine I’m all for tough love. I’ve looked into private schools, boarding schools, military style schools (all of which offer the structure and therapy he needs) but we’re hitting financial brick walls. Literally. We have four other children and the costs of living (despite not being “poor”) mean that these options are simply not viable. Neither of us come from wealthy families that can bankroll this for us. We live fairly simply so there’s already not a lot we can eliminate to make this a possibility. I’m still searching and I’m going to exhaust my resources on this one but free simply doesn’t exist. I still believe this has its roots psychologically and it’s not simply a case of him playing “naughty little boy.” I’ll get him whatever help I can but I can’t bankrupt myself paying hefty fees to make it happen.

I’m so glad your son is living his best life now. It’s lovely to hear stories of hope!

1 week ago

@nurse_vee The “State” paid for my son’s schooling. We were lucky that there are programs out there that will help those kids who are “at risk”. The public school he was attending was able to help also and see to it that my son was placed in an atmosphere that was viable to him. There are services out there, you just need to know where to look and connect with the right people.

1 week ago

*hugs*

I know all too well what you are going through. I can’t offer any advice but I can tell you I understand. My son also has ADHD he started rebelling and doing stuff about 16. He’s now 19 and to be honest it hasn’t gotten much better. There are things he’s improving on however he still has a long way to go. We’ve tried everything and right now we are just kinda at a loss.

I truly hope things improve with him because I understand all too well what an out of control child does to all of the family. I wish I had some advice but since I don’t I just wanted a drop a note letting you know you’re not alone <3