March 20, 2020

choke hold

(I apologize that this is so long.  Coach just texted that we are leaving earlier than planned so I have to get my self in gear here and don't have time to edit.  Besides it is just a long ass story.)

Lad came home on Wednesday the 11th.  His flight home for spring break was scheduled for the 13th, but when his school closed early we flew him home early.  He now says that I made him come home early even though he had stuff to accomplish like meeting with his professors.  Lad often has an interesting twist on reality, but I have all of our text exchanges.  I gave him many options regarding flights and told him to let me know what worked best for him, so his story doesn’t hold water.

There is loads of history here.  I love Lad.  He is our oldest.  He has tested us more than any of the other kids to date, and I would assume no other kid will give us such a run for our money.   Fingers crossed anyway.  He isn’t a bad kid.  I would say his biggest issue is that he does not own his behavior.  He is very immature and whatever happens, it is always someone else’s fault. 

Kids are all different, of course, but how odd when they experience the same parenting style and turn out so different.   Ed is very mature.  His fraternity brothers refer to him as ‘dad’.  I told them at mom’s weekend that Mini and Tank refer to him as ‘dad’ too- only they find his dad tendencies to be irritating.  Anyway, Ed owns his behavior.  If he messes up, he recognizes it and apologizes, etc.  I suppose it is just in Lad’s makeup and Ed’s makeup.  I cannot for the life of me figure out how you get kids who can approach ‘I did that, sorry’ and ‘It wasn’t my fault’ when they have been raised the same way. 

Lad’s attention deficit disorder impacted him more socially than academically, although academics were never easy for him.  He has always struggled with friendships.  As a young mother, it broke my heart.  Looking back, we should have bumped him from the Catholic school to the public school.  The Catholic school was small and there just weren’t enough fish in the sea.  He couldn’t find his group.  We didn’t know what we would encounter at the public school, so we left him at the same school with all of the other kids.  It was like the fear of the unknown.  At least at the Catholic school we knew what we were dealing with.  Most of the boys in Lad’s class were the oldest in their families.  They were seasoned and he was romper room. 

I could share countless examples.  Kids were mean.  Parents were stupid.  Lad was often left out.  There were triplet boys.  Their folks divorced when they were in kindergarten.  The boys were very aggressive.  I tried to have just one of the boys come over to play with Lad in 3rd grade.  Divide and conquer.  If one of them accepted him, who knows what would happen? 

He felt like this one brother was his buddy.  The mom always had an excuse.  She never reciprocated.  The boys never got together.  On a day off of school in November in 3rd grade, I called a bunch of boys- one after the other to see if someone could come and play.  No one could come.  Finally a mom told me that it was the triplets’ birthday party.  The triplet mom had invited every boy in the class of 22 boys to the party except for maybe 3 or 4.  Lad was one of the ones left out.

Since he got home from college Lad has been nervous about how he was going to get his stuff.  Long story, but we have not paid rent in a few months.  There have been many problems with the place.  Infested with mice, no working door handle (Lad said if there was a fire they would all die), fridge that didn’t work for months and was fixed recently, plaster from the upstairs bathroom collapsed into his bathroom making the bathroom unusable.  A lawyer was helping Lad work out a deal – get out of the lease, but he hasn’t returned Lad’s email in days.  We have decided to just get his stuff and let them keep the security deposit. 

It wasn’t until after he was home that Lad admitted that he wasn’t getting along with his two roommates and he was nervous that they were going to take his stuff.    He didn’t trust them.  Swell. 

His school does not send email blasts.  We have never gotten an email from them about ANYTHING.  We asked Lad what they were saying about the end of the school year.  Lad said he thought they would be going back since New Rochelle was so bad early on, it would clear up there and then school would be back on.  Huh?  Wednesday Coach looked at the school website and sure enough, school closed with online classes starting after break. 

Wednesday evening as we were about to go to bed, Lad told us that he thought he would fly out there and meet with a professor or two.  He’d like to stay a week to see the girlfriend.  Then we could drive out and get his stuff.  We had a flight for him to return from spring break that we could change, but we figured it made more sense to drive out there.  Better to avoid planes.  Plus it made more sense for Coach to drive out with Lad and share the driving.  Last we had heard, New Rochelle was a hotbed for the virus and people were supposed to avoid the area.  I said we needed better information.  We pointed out that we weren’t even sure when his professor would be at school since it was spring break.  Lad sent an email right then.  He didn’t like our plan, blurted out ‘I don’t even want to live here.’  Well.  Don’t get me started. 

He had already told me he didn’t care that much about missing the end of his senior year.  His school is more of a commuter school, so I think part of it is that it isn’t the same as other schools.  The other thing is that I don’t think he had many close friends.  He has a girlfriend, who I think has been very good for him.  I have never complained about her or told him he is too young to date seriously, BUT I do think he is way too immature to date seriously.  No idea what the future is there.  Don’t get me wrong, she is sweet and I have no problem with her.  I prefer he grow up though and then reconnect.  Not sure that is in the cards.

The whole reason he was in this crappy apartment is that the water polo team rented a house together and didn’t include him.  No matter how hard he is to get along with at times (bristles easily, doesn’t pick up on social cues, takes things personally and struggles to move on from there – probably his biggest issue), this broke my heart.  Even though I realize that it is probably him, I want to believe the stories he tells about his teammates.  A couple of jerks.  He is on the outs with them, so he is not invited to live in the house. 
Lad has a best friend from high school, Jim – a great kid at college out in Montana.  Ed always says, thank God for Jim.  Jim gets along with Lad great.  He gets him.  At the caddy shack in the summer, Ed told me that when Lad was spouting off Jim just turned to him and said, ‘Dude, I think you’re hangry.  You need a snickers or something?’  Then Lad laughed and got over whatever his issue was.  In these parts, Jim is a demigod. 

Coach and I went to bed Wednesday and agreed that Lad’s need to get out there asap made no sense.  Why couldn’t he just wait a few days to make a plan?  Be sure New Rochelle was accessible, etc. 
Thursday Coach worked early.  I was out walking with Mini at 9:30 am.  Lad called me to say that his professor had emailed him back at 6:00 in the morning.  “I wish someone had woke me up earlier.”  Um, what?  Here we are – it is someone else’s fault.  I didn’t even engage.
“He can meet with me today after 3:45 pm, so I need to fly out there soon.”
Me:  I do not think that was going to happen.  We need to make a plan.  Daddy needs you to drive out with him.  We are leaning towards NOT flying.  (At one point we discussed flying two people out and renting a truck to drive back).  I am finishing my walk.  We can talk when I get back.

He later told Coach that I hung up on him.  Untrue.

When I got home, he refused to listen to me say that this made no sense.  It was too much to ask Daddy to drive 12 hours to NY alone.  Does the teacher not skype?  How about a phone call?  In these times, teachers would have to be flexible.  Certainly. 

Lad:  He doesn’t do any of that.  What if I missed a handout?  I need to be sure I have all of the papers I need.  I suck at Spanish.  I don’t want to fail.  (Lad took 3 summer school classes over the summer.  He failed all of them – or got a D which he would not get credit for.  Spanish was one of them.  He has been very focused on trying to pass everything in the home stretch so he can graduate). 

Me:  If he has extra handouts and he doesn’t email then he will have to mail them to you.  This makes no sense.  We have to talk to Daddy.

Lad:  (racing back to his laptop):  Then I am going to buy a flight right now.  I am leaving.  I am not letting you do this again.

Me:  Again?  When has this situation ever arisen before?

Lad:  My whole life. My whole life you have had me in a choke hold.

I can’t even begin.  He wanted to play football in college against our wishes.  He wanted to go to St. Ambrose.  We thought Loras was a better fit, but off he went to St. Ambrose.  He played football freshman year till he hated it and then wanted to transfer to play water polo and pay an additional $14,000 over the next 3 years.  Off he went to play water polo.  Choke hold my ass. 

While I was walking, I had called Coach’s clinic.  They told me he was manually working on a patient and would call me back in a bit.  Now I called again.  I told the person who answered the phone:  This is now emergent.  I must speak with him now.  Please tell him.

She came back to the phone and said that Coach was going to call me on my cell phone.  He never called.  I took the free weights to the living room and continued to finish my workout.  I knew it was best if I not engage with Lad – stay in another room.  He was making no sense and I feared things would just escalate if I challenged him.  Ed woke up.  Before he went into the kitchen, I told him what was happening. 

Ed:  Danny, why is this an emergency?  Why can’t you wait and drive out with Daddy?

Lad:  Mom won’t let me be alone in New York because she thinks I am on drugs. 

Me:  WHAT?  No, not true.  If you leave, then Daddy has to drive out alone.  Why can’t you wait?  We aren’t even supposed to be flying anyway.  You are being irrational.

Lad:  Make Ed drive out with Dad.

Ed:  (laughing)

I called Coach AGAIN.  The woman said I could call his cell phone because he was driving home.  I called his cell. 

Coach:  I locked my keys in my car. 

Me:  Ed drive to Daddy’s work and give him the keys.  Lad, give me my credit card back.

Ed left with the keys.  I continued to speak to Coach on the phone from the front porch until I realized he wasn’t responding and my 3 minute tirade had been to no one.  I called him back.  I must’ve disconnected the phone when I juggled the phone and the door to the porch.  Repeated my tirade till Ed got there with the keys and Coach said he was on his way.

Curly brought my credit card into me a few minutes later and said Lad had just walked out the door.  Coach got home and it was too late.  Lad was gone.  Coach drove off to try to find him, but I told him he probably got an Uber to the airport. 

Me:  Just this once it would have been nice if we came before your patients.  I have called you several times.  You should have cancelled people.  At the very least, you should have taken my call.  I cannot always do this alone.

I realized I could see his bank account.  I pulled it up.  His account is tied to ours.  When he was nervous to leave town because of the chance of being evicted, I transferred enough money to his account to pay for the two months of rent.  I told him to pay it and then if the lawyer got the money back, great.  He walked to the bank, but the lawyer texted him and told him NOT to pay it.  I never bothered to pull the rent money out of his cash card account. 

Guess what?   He bought a ticket on United Airlines with his cash card just that morning while he was arguing with me.  I was so irritated that I had not thought to clear out his account.  So the flight I have for him that was for Monday that could be changed for next to nothing now becomes a voucher.  In his name.

Guess what else?  He got a money order for $700 for one month of rent and never paid it, so he probably still has that – he better.  The other $700 had dwindled to $230.  I transferred it back into my account.  Now he was flying to NY with nothing on his cash card.  I wouldn’t want him to feel the choke hold of being in debt to me. 

Coach called him and called him.  Lad finally answered.  Said his phone was almost dead.  OF COURSE.  Once it was charged – probably while he was sitting at the gate, he called.  It was all so ridiculous.  Coach told him that he would drive to O’Hare and pick him up. They could leave tomorrow, Friday (today).  He would move his patients. 

Lad told Coach I made him come home before he was ready.  Claimed I hung up on him while on my walk.  Said my walk was more important.  Said he misses his girlfriend.  He was upset he wasn’t able to finish his senior year (earlier it didn’t matter, and I do get that this is disappointing but racing off doesn’t solve that).  He really needed to talk to his professor face to face.  He was worried about his stuff, etc.  Coach offered to go next week.  He has fewer patients right now and he could juggle patients.  Nope.  Lad got on the plane.  I texted him to point out that I have all the texts about coming home and he should be apologizing for lying about me ‘MAKING’ him come home before he was ready.

I had agreed to cut all the boys’ hair, so I set my stuff up on the porch.  I was fit to be tied.  Coach was begging me to be more patient, to not be so mad, even though he was shaking by the time he got off the phone with Lad.  The whole thing is so upsetting. 

I later sent Coach a text.  I have been advocating and worrying and racing to Lad’s aid for years.  Game over.  I am done.  Most of that time, Coach was at work.  He would listen to all the stuff that went on later later.  I pointed out that it boggles the mind that Lad lashes out at me after all I have done for him.
I was the one who found him a therapist, organized play dates, pulled an all nighter to make him a 4 horsemen Halloween costume when the 3 other would-be horsemen dumped him right beforehand, argued with teachers who made him call his bad grades out in front of the whole class so she could record them in her grade book, made teachers learn what ADD meant, called a principal out for not reprimanding boys who she admitted had bullied Lad (People, his 7th grade classmates said ‘pussy lickers’ and when my romper room son didn’t laugh they made fun of him for not knowing the terminology), once I called a parent whose son was an ass to Lad and made fun of him at another kid’s house and  made him cry until he called me to come pick him up. 
Lad was so excited to be the four horsemen, when the other kids decided to do a costume that didn't include him I told him he could STILL be the four horsemen.  We just had to be creative.  Not the best picture because  of how tow of the heads are kind of leaning forward.  It was heavy as hell, but he was thrilled with it. 

At the high school hosted basketball camp, Lad went all the way to the final two kids of a shooting drill and the coach stupidly asked the rest of the camp attendees to stand next to the kid they thought would win.  It was a popularity contest.  No one stood next to Lad.  Everyone clambered to stand next to the other boy.  I always stayed at the gym.  It was too much effort to load the double stroller back in the car and return an hour or so later.  There were a few other moms who stayed, so I wasn’t a total freak.  Lad was little – like around 10 years old.  I grabbed Ed by the arm - told him to stand next to his brother and cheer for him.  Ed tried to argue that this wasn’t his camp.  He didn’t want to get in trouble.  When he heard my voice crack because I was crying, he hauled his little butt over and stood there alone cheering for Lad.  Really I don’t think Lad ever caught a break.  

Remember the negative things my dad wrote about Lad in his book?  How I went to bat for him there? 

Coach texted me back and said that there is a lot he forgets that I did for Laddie.  I think Laddie forgets too.

So now, after all that – Lad hates everything I say.  Twists my words. I am the bad guy.  I try to keep my distance and we do better when he is in New York.  I just don’t think I have it in me to let this one slide.  Funny, we pay for his phone.  His car insurance.  I am ready to give him the boot. 

Coach and I are leaving for New York in an hour and a half.  He was going to drive alone, but I worry that he will fall asleep.  Ed is here to manage the rest of the gang. 

Never saw this coming.   I guess I was too busy keeping my choke hold on him so tight.   


CherylK said...

Wow, I feel for you guys. I have a 15 year old and am praying that I'm not looking into my future here. Good Luck with all of it.

Kari said...

I feel for Lad because we know ADD well and yes, it is much harder for them socially than academically most times. I feel for kids who are left out and am sensitive to it because of our own experience with ADD. So sending him a hug. But from far away because social distancing.

Beth Cotell said...

This breaks my heart for both you and Lad.

Charlie said...

Gosh, what a post. I love your honesty. I hope your trip goes as well as it can. And I hope your son comes to his senses eventually and realised how damn lucky he really is

Kara said...

I am so sorry that you are going through this. I have seen my parents struggle with one of my brothers with similar behaviors. Eventually, they needed to let him fail, and when he came back, it was with stipulations- such as required counseling and staying on medications.

Busy Bee Suz said...

As a mother, my heart breaks for you. I know you put your heart and soul into your family and to have one of them treat you so badly is tragic.
Also, like Kari said, he's got ADD on his side and that isn't easy. It doesn't sound like he's had anything easy aside from a loving family.
I'll be praying for all of you to get through this. I hate that he's going back there (VIRUS!) and now you are too. Wishing you safe travels and that the disagreement is resolved. He's got a lot of growing up to do; he has no idea right now.
Big hugs.

Ernie said...

Cheryl- thanks. Teenagers are never easy but this guy is 21. Really pushing the envelope. Coach thinks he is failing his spanish class and is worried he won't graduate. This was not the way to do this.

Kari- it sure is not easy for those with ADD but this kid has got to stop looking a gift horse in the mouth. Tank has ADD too but it impacts him more academically. He is Mr. Social. People gravitate to him. That seems easier to me. Even without good test scores, Tank will come out ahead because of he lights up a room.

Ernie said...

Beth- I kid you not I have cried myself to sleep over his social issues back in the day. Part of me wonders if he lashes out at me because he knows I recognize what has gone down for years. It is tough. And my mom thought she had it tough because I was independent and spoke my mind. She had 5 kids and never watched a young kid struggle like this.

Charlie- All I got is honesty. No sugar coating it anymore. The fact that Ed excelled in school and sports and had a million friends only exaggerated Lad's circumstances. It was like a dagger to my heart. My younger brother was always considered the ultimate athlete, Irish musician, scholar- so my heart broke for Lad. I had friends though growing up and they were there to eye roll Pat's attention. Lad didn't even have that.

Ernie said...

Kara- I am on board with that suggestion. We tried to get him to agree to see Chip regularly all summer. Summer was dreadful and Mini (his main target) is begging us not to let him live with us. His ADD meds only help him focus. He takes for school only. No easy answer but we do pay for his phone so maybe we say you want your phone then you see Chip. Hmm.

Suz- you hit the nail on the head. He has not had an easy time. I am really grateful for fis girlfriend because I think she keeps him on track. Yet he is so immature. When he gets mad at ne he calls her and puts ohone on speaker and acts all emotional. My house is not big enough for both of us. I have had his back so many times, but as he got older I allowed him to figure shit out. When his math teacher called me daily senior year in high school, I told her there was nothing I could do. I was so happy when he clicked with Jimmy in high school. That was huge. I worry that he will always have a hard time getting along with people BUT people are crazy . . . 3 of my neighbors are bananas- Mary Ann leading the pack. I steer clear of them (as do lots of other people) so who am I to throw stones? Appreciate the prayers. I just finished my 4 hrs of driving. We will arrive at midnight. Less than 2 hours. Trying not to think of the closetsI could be cleaning.

Ernie said...

Ali- so far the weather has cooperated and of course very little traffic and the rest stops have not been out of TP so we got that going for us. We did just stop at a Sunco for gas and bathrooms. If the virus was ever gonna hunker down and live anywhere, it would be this joint. Totally filthy. In true Ernie fashion, I managed to hop back in the car and eat my dinner from my thermos. Nothing will kill my appetite.

The situation is frustrating but when he first ran out the door and would not answer our calls- that was the scariest part. If it were up to me, fail spanish and take it later vs fly out there. Not likely to be a graduation anyway.

Anonymous said...

How awful for all of you. I don’t have teens but it seems like even the sweetest inevitably “climb fool’s hill” as one of the ladies at church describes it. I know your son is not a teen but a baby doc friend of mine once told me about brain development — the part of our brain that is capable of determining the future consequences of our actions? That really useful part that says “Don’t do that because they’ll be heck to pay later dude....” Yah that part does not fully develop until mid20s (23? 26?).

I know this no consolation but maybe years from now he’ll realize you guys are wonderful parents. Sounds like he has a lovely girlfriend that he is nice to and has managed to keep. That’s a good sign, right? Maybe cling to that? Maybe once he finishes pushing you away, once he no longer has you guys to blame for everything, he will come to his senses, see reality and treat you with the same kindness he uses towards his girlfriend?

One of my cousins was inexplicably awful to his parents (nicest people, best parents ever; no problems with other son) from teen years thru early 20s. Then he met a girl he liked & that girl would not tolerate his sh*t behavior. He changed.... slowly. First for the girl. Then towards everyone else including parents. But it took a long time and he moved far, far away before coming back. Dunno if this gives you any comfort.

Hope things get better for all of you. Oh and your readers are still out here. We’re just overwhelmed and prob reading in bursts. Or waiting in line for tp.

Stay safe. Maddie

Ernie said...

Maddie- I would agree that his brain is not fully formed yet. We are headed home from drive to NY and hoping that we washed our hands enough. Hard to stay in a hotel and not touch anything. Yes I do think it is a good sign that this girl has stuck by him. I know he is not a bad kid byt wildly inconsiderate and immature. He's had some rough bumps along the way. I am worried that the economy will be crappy and he won't find a job. Good to hear frim you.

Nicole MacPherson said...

Wow. I don't even know what to say except I've very sorry :(

Ernie said...

Nicole - Thanks. We really want him to find a job that he enjoys and that will be a good fit for him. Something he is passionate about. He mentioned on our drive home how much he would love to coach water polo. Maybe he can get a masters in education and coach at a high school. Water polo programs near us would certainly benefit from being coached by someone who actually played at the college level. Lad tends to shut down and get nothing done when he is overwhelmed. He described to us how uncertain he is if he should go back out to his school and do a 5th year and play water polo (still eligible for another season) or join the coast guard or get a job, etc. I sense we will all be a little uncomfortable as he tries to map it all out AND finish school from home. I am glad he is home. I was a little fearful that we would get out there and that he would say 'I have decided to stay here with my girlfriend.'