Son returned from Guided Expedition the results
10-02-2017 05:27 PM
Hi all, it has been quite a long time since I posted. Have sat down many a time to do so, but just couldn't get my head in the right space.
Our fourteen year old son was given an ultimatum a couple months ago after being in trouble with the police, attend a social worker led expedition in SA for 2 weeks and get help to get his act together, or leave. We as parents were no longer willing to put up with the law breaking, tantrums, truanting, violence and verbal abuse.
So, how did it go? Report back from SA was that he was totally shut down for the first few days, and it took a great deal of work to get him to open up and start reflecting. But, they commented on his social nature, his ability to lead, to help whenever help was needed, and that he shows enormous potential to be a truly great person. Yep, heard all that before. So, once home, we faced immediately the usual barrage of abuse over wifi access. Our response, you want it, you earn it. You have access to certain sites between the hours of 3:30-9pm, with a break to help with dinner. Well, a ton of abuse later, including cutting the wiring to the modem/router one night after electric power pole replacements in the neighbourhood had caused a few modem issues. He used all his phono data in a couple days, demanded more, but was not given it. Has on occasion asked for a wifi extension, and if the behaviour has been tolerable, it has been granted.
We set up a list of jobs around the house to be done, for which he would earn pocket money at a rate of $10/hr. In a month he has washed his clothes 3 times, unloaded the dishwasher 3 times, done 1 hour of gardening, changed his sheets and cleaned his room once. So, clearly that idea means nothing to him. I think he earned, out of a potential $130, $12 for September!
Still occasionally truanting from school, but, he has also had a few mates over for sleepovers so at least now we can put faces to names. We have also insisted on contact with parents of the boys, and addresses when he has stayed elsewhere. Amazingly, he has obliged. He has managed to get a job at a local fast food place, and has earned a few dollars. I don't expect they will last long in his bank! He has stolen cash from my husband's wallet to top up his bus card and pay back a friend for food purchased. He has made his own lunch maybe twice in a month. We are starving him of funds in the hope it means he can't buy illegal substances or cigarettes anymore. Not sure but think he is still smoking, but the behaviour we think we can link to illegal substances seems to have stopped.
As for how the rest of the family is feeling. Son has destroyed the fabric of our family. Daughter doing her mock year 12 exams this week & next is struggling to cope and stay motivated. We live on eggshells and I am struggling to remain focussed and motivated at work myself. It is affecting my ability to do my job in that I cannot afford to leave family alone overnight as I attend a school camp, so I will have to travel each day to and from the camp. Fortunately, my colleagues are being very understanding, but I cannot afford for that to wear thin.
My mental health is totally frayed. I was tempted to have myself admitted to a rehab hospital for the school holidays but am fearful of leaving family to manage alone during exam time. Also anxious about what it would mean to my employer. Also, rehab/mental health care can't be conveniently scheduled to be completed in the school holidays, so I will have to find another option! Chocolate is a good alternative!!
So I am now exploring alternative accommodation options for son as I cannot tolerate his attitude where home is his private Air BnB where he can have access to free food, washing machine and wifi. He was complaining bitterly about something the other day, so I reminded him that if he couldn't cope with the conditions of our home, ie. food in the fridge, wifi, a warm house, warm bedroom, tv, access to sports equipment, laptop, then he was most welcome to leave and find alternative accommodation. Nobody was forcing him to remain in the home, indeed if the conditions are so unbearable, nobody would expect him to remain! I put up with this, and then another day he asks when we can go on an overseas holiday again?! Incredible. I did tell him I had been thinking of a trip to Japan for some time now, but his behaviour had precluded that happening, and also now with a drugs caution I am not sure if he could get a visa.
I have tried to reconnect with him as per the advice from counsellors. I took him to our local squash courts & taught him how to play. This has backfired as I am now injured and can't play for a while- had old knee injuries and shoulder reconstruction that haven't taken to the game! Also, as I was once an A grade player, despite my incapacity now, I can still place the ball very well and thrash him in every game! Not good for the ego of a 14 year old who called Mum 'fat and slow and useless'! So, instead of trying harder, he would deliberately hit the ball hard at me between points. This is the type of low level abuse we put up with.
So, it's the last week of school holidays. I haven't seen him for 24+ hours, no idea where he is, although I did speak to the family he stayed with last night. Hoping that I am able to source alternative accommodation for him soon. Daughter has asked that we hold off until she has finished her year 12 exams. Not sure I can last another 6 weeks. Wondering how, if he can live elsewhere, we then deal with the "You kicked me out at 15" scenario as he gets older...He tells me he is moving out at 16 as he can live on $100 a week he can earn in the fast food industry. I hate to dispel that notion, but...he just may get living allowance through family breakdown, but if that is parent-means tested, he hasn't a hope!
So, for those who had offered great support to me over the past few months, many sincere thanks. Apologies for the very long update, but there you have it. I have never swung before so much between guilt, loathing, anxiety, dread and desperation. Just have to get through the next school term.