I’d like to say I thought I wouldn’t have to write this post, but I’d be telling you all a whopper. My gut knew, but I knew it would have to go this way for me to be ok with what’s happened. So let me fill you in…
Sunday night, Adopted Son called pleading with me to come and pick him up so he could go to school Monday. “You know she isn’t gonna get me a ride, Mama, and I don’t want to be here. Please come get me. She said it’s ok.”
Given that his clothing was still here, I knew eventually I’d be burning gas anyway to take them to him, but there was still the issue of his mom and the food stamps/permission for the school to talk to me hanging out there, and I wasn’t willing to do the Okie-doke, not even for him.
More importantly, my own kids are watching this, and I knew I had to be really careful what I did next so as to not set precedents that would be my undoing down the road with them. So, I told him to put his mom on the phone. I told her the same thing I’d already told him – that it seemed like I wanted him in school more than she or he did, that I wasn’t willing to continue unless she followed through with the support she had promised and that I had reached my limit.
She asked me to come and get him and said she would have to get her food stamp card replaced because she had lost it over the weekend, but that she would do that Monday or Tuesday, but please get him so he can be in school because he has to go to court the 16th and it would reflect poorly to the judge if he hadn’t been in school.
Since I had to make a trip either way, I told her I would come get him so he could go to school, but that she had until Tuesday to make good on her stuff, or I’d bring him right back.
Well, lo and behold, she called yesterday right after school to tell me she had the food stamps for me, so I went and got them – sure did.
And then this morning, Adopted Son calls me on my cell phone to tell me he’s been suspended for the rest of the year for leaving campus at lunch yesterday. Apparently the principal saw him and another kid leaving the grounds and told the office people if he showed up for school today to suspend his butt, which they did.
Even though I was at school subbing, I knew I had to leave, pick him up, get his stuff from my house and take him home – or I would find some reason to give him yet another chance. So I called my school’s office, told them I had an emergency but would be back, and went and did exactly that. When I picked him up, he was acting kind of embarrassed, like he knew that he couldn’t argue with what I was doing because he’d brought it on himself. When he got out of the car, he got his bag of clothes from the back seat and then stopped, leaned down, looked me dead in the eye and said a somber and sincere, “Thank you.”
I said an equally somber and sincere, “You’re welcome,” and went back to school.
When I got home, I had two messages from his mother – one around 11am telling me he’d been suspended and that she wanted me to bring him and her food stamps back immediately, and then another at 4pm cussing me, telling me that the food stamps weren’t to make up for what he’d eaten while he was here all this time, but to help for this month, and that if I’d already gone to the grocery store, since he was no longer here and wouldn’t be, she expected me to pay her back…today.
That’s the kind of ignorance I knowingly took that boy back to, folks. And if she’s really waiting on me to pay her back, she’ll be waiting a very long time, indeed, as I told her each of the 4 times she called cussing me out this evening. I guess after the 4th time she couldn’t get a rise out of me, she gave up. Her parting shot was for me to stay the hell away from her son and mind my own business.
So, if I could ask a favor of you all, it is this: if you’re the praying sort, send one up for Adopted Son, that he finds his way in this world, because he’s truly on his own with that, and then send one up for his mom, who at best, is a tortured, addicted soul.
I knew going in how this would probably end, and I’m ok with it, I really am. All I set out to do was try to show him another life was possible for him, and I choose to believe that the thank you I got this afternoon was his way of telling me I had done that.
I had to explain why Adopted Son wasn’t here to Second Son and PDD when we got home, and all I said was that he’d gotten suspended for the rest of the year, thereby breaking his agreement with me, which meant I took him back to his mom’s.
PDD accepted that at face value, but Second Son knows there’s more to what happened than that. I saw a new level of respect in his eyes this evening, along with a sadness for his friend that we’ll probably end up talking about sooner or later.
But I’m going to bed tonight knowing I did what I could and in the process, learned a lot about myself and what kind of parent I really want to be. And the comforting thing is this: anytime we’re ready, we have an opportunity to do better based on the experience we’ve gained. That’s true for all of us, in every area of life. I’m taking mine, and I’ll be praying Adopted Son takes his…as many times as it takes.