I’ve hit the wall as it comes to the Thing G situation.
Oh, this kid deserves so much more than he’s giving himself.
While I was wrapped firmly in the baby bubble, he rear-ended someone and cracked the radiator in the car. He flunked one college course for the second time and pulled a C and D in the remaining two classes. This is after he dropped two classes in March and told his father and me he’d get a job in April.
We’re in the last full week of June and the kid is not employed. Not actively putting forth any effort to become employed, and won’t be returning to school because of his lack of effort.
I want to do two things simultaneously. I want to shake him till his teeth rattle to get his life together, and I want to hug him tight and fix his life.
Here’s the rub, I can do neither of these things.
First of all, I have no power when it comes to the kid. I cannot lay down rules and expect them to be followed. I cannot even wait for natural consequences to fall upon him. He is immune. In all truth, this kid has never actually experienced a consequence. And if he actually has, it’s somehow been lost on him.
Both my therapist and the therapist YBW and I see together have suggested we make life less comfortable for him. That if he experiences a new level of discomfort, he’ll have to make changes to remain comfortable.
I’ve stopped buying junk for him to eat.
He solved that problem by going out and purchasing his own junk.
I asked him what happened when the money ran out. I told him his dad wasn’t going to put anymore money in his account, that the money that was in there was because he needed to eat on campus and put gas in the car to get to campus.
He said to me, “Hopefully I’ll have a job by then.”
Kid won’t have a job if he doesn’t actively seek one.
I honestly don’t know if he understands that he won’t get paid at a job until he’s been there a couple of weeks.
YBW tells me I don’t love Thing G.
I don’t treat the kid the way YBW treats him, therefore I do not love him?
I’m so tired of fighting to prove to my husband that I love his son.
I’m over here just trying to survive in this household.
You know, I’ve been accused of not loving this kid so many times I don’t even choose to listen to it anymore.
I do love him!
If I didn’t love him, I wouldn’t give a fuck what he did or did not do, or what happens to him. I care deeply. I see a bright, capable young man absolutely avoiding his own life. I watch him get bogged down in his own fear and anxiety to the point he simply chooses to avoid life in general. It hurts my heart. I have to believe it isn’t what he wants, however, he simply cannot get himself together.
What hurts me the most is that YBW thinks I don’t see the conflict within him. That he wants to simultaneously shake the kid till his teeth rattle, and hold him close.
I see that struggle in him. I see him want more for his son. I also see him trapped by his understanding of his commitment to raising his son.
I see him torn between knowing the kid needs to get his life together and how to facilitate that, and his sacred commitment to keep his son safe.
I observe him not making the connection that sometimes keeping a child safe is actively doing the opposite. I observe him making that connection, but being powerless to act upon it because his idea of facilitating the kid getting his life together and keeping him safe seem at complete odds.
Let me be very clear, I can only use my words to describe what I see going on with my husband. He might have different words to express it.
I was fascinated by his response to a question asked by our therapist.
She asked him to describe his parenting philosophy. She was specific he limit it to five words or less.
His response was “Take care of them.”
I was not asked to respond aloud, but I too, answered the question.
My response was “Build them a foundation.”
My eyes were opened that afternoon. And in that moment I understood my husband in a completely different way.
He’s quick to point out that I think he’s a failure as a parent.
On the contrary, one of the things I love most about him is how much of a loving father he is.
In the past, I’ve asked, “Why don’t they know how to do that?” or “Why didn’t they learn that?” What he heard was, “You didn’t teach them therefore you failed as a dad.”
I don’t think he failed as a dad. I think he is a kind and loving dad. A dad who would sacrifice by any means necessary for his kids to have the life he thinks they deserve.
He’s not failed in taking care of them. He’s elevated taking care of his sons into an art form.
The love in my husband flows in his very veins. He is a nurturer of epic proportion.
He either doesn’t see my acknowledgement of that, or he chooses to ignore it. I honestly don’t know which.
I know what he thinks I think of him. And y’all, it ain’t nice.
He is wrong.
I don’t think any of the things he thinks I think of him.
I’ve figured out I can’t really do anything about that. I can only love him and go from there.
We’re so different.
It starts at our upbringing.
I was raised by my emotionally unavailable single mother, and later, my fully devoted maternal grandfather.
Before we lived with Grandaddy, we were poor. I mean poor. I had clothes to wear to school, but never enough food in my belly. I had to be helpful around the house. I had to be helpful with my little brother. I knew how to cook and clean and half-ass parent by the time I was in second grade.
I’m not sob-story-ing it. I’m just saying that was my life. I didn’t know it wasn’t the same as other kids.
YBW was raised by a stay at home mom who did everything for her family. YBW was the 1980s embodiment of 1950s Beaver Cleaver. Hot breakfast was waiting for him every morning when he woke. Clothes were washed and pressed for him. He got called in from playing to wash his hands and come to the dinner table. His mom made his bed each day after he left for school. He was next level well cared for. I don’t know if he knew it wasn’t the same for other kids.
Our upbringing shaped our parenting philosophies.
Take care of them.
Build a them foundation.
This kind of sums up our different parenting philosophies.
However much I am the kangaroo, bear, and monkey, I too am the bird. I knew I could only keep my girls safe and warm and comfy for so long before they would have to fly.
However much I did for them, I taught them to do for themselves. I believe they would tell you they were well cared for as quickly as they would tell you I built them a strong foundation. At least I hope they would. I do know I built them strong foundations upon which they can stand as they begin their own building upon it. And that was my parenting goal.
YBW is all kangaroo, bear, and monkey. I see him working towards the concept of the bird. I see how much it goes against his idea of how to parent. I see he is conflicted. I imagine he wants to facilitate the natural course of development in helping his bird fly without having to actually let go.
These are my words for what I see in him. I don’t actually know his truth.
What I do know is this.
I can no longer stand idly by while Thing G remains disengaged from his own life.
It hurts me deep in my soul that this kid I so love is stagnant.
I can’t unstick him. I can’t help him get himself unstuck.
Nothing I do makes a difference.
I can no longer abide being powerless.
In a conversation with YBW I shared that I’d gotten to the point where I only saw three options for how I was going to deal with my feelings regarding the Thing G situation.
The first is ignore the kid completely. If I’m not engaged I won’t suffer.
YBW asked if this is really practical.
The second is to take point and facilitate his ability to fly.
YBW said he doesn’t want me to ruin my relationship with Thing G by being the ‘bad guy’.
The third is to simply walk away.
YBW accused me of threatening him.
I did not.
The third option is absolute shit. I don’t want it to be an option at all.
I am not saying it’s me or the kid.
I’m saying I am at my wit’s fucking end with this situation. With this kid. I’m tired of being powerless to change the situation. I’m tired of being powerless in the place I live.
I am uncomfortable in this house every single day when the kid is here. I hide out, or leave the house to avoid him.
I am not comfortable enough to move about freely in the place I live.
I’m so tired of feeling like this I could scream!
The kid isn’t uncomfortable enough to change.
YBW isn’t uncomfortable enough to change.
I’m over here uncomfortable as fuck with no real power to change.
How desperate does one girl have to become to create enough change to be comfortable where she lives?