Monday, June 28, 2010

I have to settle

He is really settling in.

We talked to DS2 yesterday. I wanted to call him on Saturday between baseball games, but we had all agreed to Sunday's - so DH made me wait. Of course, when we got home late Saturday night I saw on caller ID that he had called us twice. Then, I worried all night until I could get ahold of him...the worry was unneccessary.

He has really settled in.

The first few weeks he sounded 'fine', but forlorn. Although he wouldn't ever say it, there was a longing for his old ways and old routines...a homesickness. Now, he's feeling very planted. He was SO excited to tell us about working on the farm. He just got to start. He feeds and cares for cattle and has one specific cow that he's responsible for - Coco. It's a messy job, but someone's gotta do it. He has also been moved up to weed whacker duty. That made me nervous. I won't even let DS1 use the weed whacker at home - I always felt it was quite dangerous. Obviously DS2 is proving to be a trust-worthy and careful young man at school. I'm so proud of him.

He's so proud of him.

That is what I could hear in his voice yesterday. Just a thorough settling of knowing that he's doing the 'right' thing. He still struggled to converse with us, but in fleeting moments would offer info that we wouldn't have gotten before. He's made friends and has a pretty normal routine with school, eating, jobs, friends, homework - it all seems to be put in order now.

Then he said "I heard it's really hot where you live". I pointed out that this is where he lives too. A person can live in two places and for us, he's always here in many ways. The parent handbook talked about this 3/4 week mark and how the kids really change their view of things - the shift is that they are in their 'home' there, and we are in our 'home' here.

It's a tough balancing act. This is working out as well as we hoped. He's happy - genuinely - and we are relaxed and regrouping. I'm constantly making plans for when he 'comes back home' - not just on vacations (although I realize I'm overbooking that time), but when he can come back home for good. Then a good friend or a good husband will point out what I already know.

I can't plan for that.

It may not happen. I shouldn't set myself up for feeling sad if he chooses to stay there. If that place is a healing force for him - if it brings him self-esteem and self-worth and peace and happiness and a feeling of being settled...then I have to let that happen for him. I can't wait for healing and then bring him home and expect his healing will hold true here as well. It just may not.

So, for now - I put target dates in my calendar. On January 20, we'll need to know what he wants to do for summer (back to school or stay home for those months?) March 20, we'll need to know where he'll be going for 8th grade. By tomorrow, I'll need to let my heart in on the secret.

He's settled in.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Stand-up parenting?

I'm losing friends.

This isn't an oddity in life, especially not in the life of a RAD mom. Nearly any mom you talk to will tell you that people drift off...the craziness of life can push people away. They don't understand and that always present "make mom look crazy" notion - works very often.

But, it didn't really happen that way here. My friends were crazy supportive. They would listen to my stories - which I generally told in a comical way. I guess I don't know another way to tell someone that my child has peed all over the house. I always said that I laughed, so I didn't cry. Not the healthiest attitude, but it got me through. Now, I think that it kept me an audience as well.

Since we made the decision to actually DO something - to choose a place for pursue it and to follow through. This is when the drop off came. Apparently, it was better for me to turn our foibles into a stand up routine then to be honest about the fact that we couldn't do it right. I know I had said it before "wow, we kinda stink at this"..."I don't think my healing powers are working with this one"...always with a sly grin.

I guess the grin covered up that I was truthfully failing with him. So, our lives have calmed a bit and I actually feel like I can breathe - and all this when folks have decided that I'm not someone they want to hang with. I guess I'm now the bad person who 'sent her kid away'. They ask how he's doing...but they don't seem to hear the answers.

On that front: He seems very happy when we speak to him - and YEAH - we get to talk to him today. He has emailed (I'm so proud of him for remembering to do that) and we have plenty of folks sending him mail to supplement our weekly load. Overall he seems to be figuring it out and that was one of the main goals. We have to look at this as what may be deemed "what it will be like when he's all grown up". And, if this is it...we're good.

He's healthy, safe and doing well. He's passing all his classes and even says that some are "way easy"...he's making LOTS of friends and it seems he choosing the ones that don't get him in trouble - a very important skill. He's PROUD of himself. I'm proud of him, but somehow I know that the first part is more important. He talks about what he's doing with pride - even if he's discussing taking out the trash. He knows he truthfully doing it on his own. It is not because Mom is standing there telling him to do it. He seems calm. AND...the best part for our view of the future - he still likes talking to us. He talks to us more now then he did living here...he seems happy to hear our voices and get our letters and emails. He looks forward to things we're doing when he comes home. He almost seems to miss us.

DD went to summer camp this week. She held true to form. I've been in too many situations where the adult looks like they can't wait for my kiddo to leave (and I'm throwing all three of my kids in this basket). Her counselor was VERY sweet and had, thankfully, really read my parent survey (describing DD) and had taken it to heart. She asked me some questions for clarification and as always, I kept saying "I hope this makes me look crazy at the end of the week...I hope that she does NONE of these things." Hope didn't quite work this time around.

Her week was a solid C. The counselor seemed to handle everything as well as you can handle it when you aren't in the trenches. DD spent a good part of her time creating drama and being sure to let everyone know that I am a very mean mom and would be VERY mad at her for X, Y or Z. My comment to 'not spend all $40 on junk food at the camp store' became "My mom will be so mad if I buy candy or ice cream, she said I couldn't have any money for that stuff". Once convinced it was ok to buy a little something - she then spent the day begging her counselor to "NOT TELL MY MOM" as though her life depended on it.

Sweet little blonde, just north of teenager, counselor was telling me these stories and working in the better stuff around the edges. I think she had a long week. DD cried about a lost flashlight (which she had put away already)...and I don't mean a little cry...but a long, drawn out hissy fit it seems and Blondie dealt with it by saying 'you can stay here and cry about this or you can come with us and have fun'. That would have worked if my DD had chosen to go have fun. But, that just isn't her. I don't think Blondie could actually leave her in the cabin, so the whole cabin had to stay back and help her find the flashlight (the one that I bought at the dollar store and even told her so because I didn't care if it came back...yes, that one). I'm sure that endeared her to the group!

The few days alone with DS1 was good...although he would say that I am picking on him. He's a bit snitty and getting called on it. He likes it better when there is someone else to take that attention, when he can just lurk around the edges. But, this week, he had the spotlight. We did some fun things together and some things that he probably didn't find quite as fun (deep cleaning a teen boy's room anyone?)!

And on and on it goes...I'm ready for a day of nothing and maybe then I'll sit around and try to think of my next stand up routine.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

First phone call

We talked to DS2 this morning! He sounded healthy and overall happy. He told us all about his first week. In classes he is doing well: 100% on a language arts test, feeling secure in math (he says it's WAY easier than math here), learning about the Civil War in SS and he wasn't quite sure how to address what he's doing in science.

He has NOT been on the campus list (the 'punishment' list) once. In fact, he and his roommate are model citizens, with the cleanest room! He seemed proud of even his chores of moving trash from campus to the pick up point for the truck.

All the seventh graders are being moved to a different dorm...there seems to be a BIG group of these younger kids. He and his roomie are getting the 'show' room since they've done so good. Their room will be the room that the headmaster uses on tours. DS2 is quite proud of that, as are we! We were also just happy and relieved to hear that he is friends with his roomie and a pretty long list of others.

We talked for our full 'allottment' of time and then I was telling him good-bye. He sounded a bit sad. I think the weekends will be harded since they aren't as structured as weekdays. But, he said he had plans. We were all four sitting on a couch with him on speaker and listening to him talk more than we've heard in years...

It's all good right now. Perhaps sometime this week I'll be able to go for more than five minutes without thinking "what is DS2 doing right now?"...and perhaps, I'll stop calling every living thing in my house by DS2's first name...I think my dogs are very confused!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

stories in faces

There wasn't a child there that seemed sad. Some seemed quite angry, but many looked joyful...then there were a couple who simply looked bored. As I scanned the faces of the new students getting ready for a summer away from home - a summer of full class days, full work afternoons, church services and yes, even some fun...I realized that so many of these kids were there for reasons SO close to our own. DS2 fit in the happy category - however, he was also shell-shocked. There was a lot to hear and digest. Those are not always his strong suits. At some point I could tell he just stopped listening. I knew I couldn't sit there for our last 2 hours together and pick on him to listen, stop fidgeting, pay attention, don't wander off...etc.

So, I listened. And, I watched him.

At the end of a very long day of interviews, video presentations, walking tours and signing papers - we got his room key and moved him into his dorm. I was still being mom until the last moment - I wanted to do it all for him. Make his bed (which I did) - fold his clothes and pick the right drawers for everything (which I didn't).

The headmaster of the school said so many things that hit home with us. He said the the biggest role the school can fulfill for hurting families is a big TIME OUT. Time for healing on all sides...the bonus side of this is that our child will be learning and kept safe while we are getting on at the job of living. Or remembering how to live...without fighting and anger and sadness.

When we hugged DS2 and gave him our last pep talks (if it doesn't feel right to you, it's not right for you)...he hugged us back - tight for a moment or two. Then, he ran off to explore and find some new friends. Hubby says he swears he saws tears in his eyes...I didn't. But, I don't judge either - I wasn't crying. I was nervous right up until...well, I will let you know when that nervousness goes away.

The people I described above were the kids at school...the parents were more easily summed up:
Scared and very, very tired.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Final Countdown

We are totally packed. I have the final shopping list in hand in order to move my son into a dorm on Sunday. As he and I folded clothes and organized things in his bags...I waited. I wanted a breakthrough. I chatted with him and he chatted back - but not a word about what was actually happening.

My best friend asked, "Do you think he even knows what he's feeling?"

No, no I don't. I don't think he has the words or even the capacity to explain what he feels. I have to believe that, because to believe the other side means that he feels nothing. I don't want to believe that.

Hubby tried to talk with him the other day - we always try to sneak it in while we have alone time with him and we're busy. So, over weed pulling DH asked him how he's feeling about his new school. DS2 answered "I don't know". Later DH asked me if he should have pushed. To that I say, "I don't know."

If I had those answers, we probably wouldn't be here.

So, I sit here 36 hours away from taking my son across multiple states and dropping him off for the first six weeks. I'm trying to label my own feelings - which are conflicted. I felt an immense sadness - almost desperation. I just want it to all work out. I want him to want us. I want to want him.

Then I feel a sense of relief - hard core and aching, growing in my chest. The thought tumbling that we won't be fighting anymore...that I'll be allowed to miss him. To rebuild hopes for him, to start dreaming for him again. I'm heartbroken that I haven't done that in a while.

We're all packed...but, I'm not sure if we are actually ready to go...