As this blog has covered in varying amounts of detail, my oldest son has been trouble waiting to happen. I can honestly say that I had always thought that one day he would be in serious trouble, but I had hoped that it would happen in a few years when he was an adult. I have struggled to parent him for many years. I have wavered from sympathy for him and his relationship problems with his mother and absolute frustration with his seeming inability to follow the simplest rules. I have been terrified of what call would come at a time when I wasn’t able to protect him from his own actions. Not in the sense of covering them up, but that I wouldn’t be there to stop him. I never imagined that this would be what it was though. My fears revolved around him getting in trouble because of his anger or stealing something. I never imagined that he would do these things.
I should offer a little background. For a few months we had a family live with us, who’s father moved out and abandoned them. The mom and her 3 kids lived in my walkout basement for most of the fall semester of school. She moved out during winter break before Christmas. This was when my oldest was in first grade. When they moved out, I set up the basement for our use again. I forgot to turn on the parental controls on the cable box, and my oldest managed to start watching a porn movie with the other kids. He then began acting out what he saw on one of my daughters. We found out what was going on because my other son told us. We did everything we knew to do, and had the support of many professionals who were telling us that this was likely normal curiosity fueled by the imagery of the porn they saw. He remained in counseling from then on for one thing or other relating to his behavior. We moved a about a year later into a much larger house in a small town. My son has admitted to doing things to his brother while we lived there. I was still on alert for things, and I never knew it happened until he admitted it during a police interview.
This blog has many instances of the problems that he has had with my ex. The extreme behaviors of both of them, and the pain that it has caused me to watch things unfold over the last few years. I realize that I was fully distracted by their dysfunction, and I missed the significant problems that were brewing with my son. His aggressiveness has been increasing and yet he never seems to mature in his thinking and emotional reactions to things.
Fast forward to this summer. I moved in with my fiance’ in May. We rented a place together that was big enough for all of us. There has been some struggles with my ex related to this, but that is for another post. I worked my schedule out over the summer, so that I was working from home two days a week, and going into work early the rest of the week. My fiance’ went in late two days a week as well. This made it work out that my kids were only left home alone for a couple hours two days a week, and one day a week I had it so I was home before 2 PM. I kept returning to angry kids. My son had been causing trouble with the other kids. There are 6 kids total between us. My four and her two. Her two are younger than mine. Early elementary school. I was trying to figure out how to make things work. My oldest was nearly 14 and the others were 12 1/2, 11, and 9. There shouldn’t have been a problem leaving them home alone for a while.
My oldest was sneaking food at every moment. It was accumulating in his room, and beginning to stink. I cleared his room of all furniture except his bed. He continued to find ways to sneak food. I did not know what to do. We were at our wits end. I could not get him to follow the simplest of rules. I never limited how much they could eat. I did limit the food they could eat to healthier choices. He was eating frosting and whipped topping. He would eat an entire box of ice cream treats or popsicles in one sitting. He was getting physically aggressive with the other kids. Towards the end of the summer I got a phone call from my daughter as I was pulling into the neighborhood that he had hit my fiance’s daughter hard and that I needed to come home. I was a minute away and told her I would be there soon. When I got there, he clearly was intimidating them all into changing their story about what happened. I lost my temper and smacked him hard. I knew it was a futile. I just had no idea how to get the message through to him. In my gut I knew something more was going on, but I couldn’t figure it out.
After Labor Day, we were driving back from a family dinner with my fiance’s two kids. We were talking about things, and it was announced to us that her son had been having sex with my oldest. At the time we are talking about a 13 year old and a 7 year old. We were shocked. I had told her about his history before her kids spent anytime with him. I wanted her to be fully aware before she went any further with me. We reported the incident through the county mental health organization that we were already engaged with regarding my son, and to the local police department. Through the process, I found out that my other son had caught them, and thought he had stopped things. He was trying to be the protector, but he failed to tell us what was going on. This is another pattern that I have to deal with now. My younger son has decided that he can protect both his brother and people from his brother all by himself. I fear that he is going to get really hurt soon. Charges against my son have been filed and he is currently being adjudicated through the juvenile justice system.
My ex and I have placed my son in a residential treatment facility for the time being. His time there is almost up. He will be returning to my ex’s house. He cannot return to mine at this time, and I honestly don’t see a time that he will be able to in the future. A lot has to happen before that is something that I will consider. A lot more has to happen before my fiance’ would consider it. Right now she doesn’t see that it could ever happen. He only has four and a half years of school left. I suspect that he will be allowed back for family events over time, but he won’t ever live with me again. My ex asks why I am so aggressively angry about this, when I wasn’t when it happened to our daughter. She doesn’t understand that it is the new understanding I have through the recent events combined with what happened in the past that has me so angry.
I have talked very little with him over the last couple of months. My heart aches at the thought of it. I am sad and angry. When I have talked with him, he lays blame with me for what he did. He blames the kids of my fiance’ for what he did. We did find out later that he had done things with her daughter as well, but she pushed him away and avoided him. Tonight I will have dinner with him and my mom. It will be a hard dinner to get through. He will be hurt by what we have to say, and he will be defensive. I need him to understand that his actions have changed his and other’s lives forever. I don’t know how it will go. I imagine it going so many ways. If he is truly working on changing, then it will end better than it starts. I love him, and hope that he gets the help he needs, but I see my job now as protecting others from him as much as I can.
For the coming years, I will struggle with how to be a father to my son. Many are going to judge me for my actions. Almost none of those people will have been through anything like this. I feel like I am writing the book on how to get through this all by myself. Maybe when the dust clears, I will write that book. My life has not turned out as I expected at all. It is now time to make my hand work from the cards that have been dealt to me. I am not a quitter, though there have been many times through this process that all I want to do is quit, but I keep plugging along. I have to search and see what part I play in the things that have happened to me, because life does not just happen to me, I am a part of the results. It is going to take some time and introspection to get there.