Things are better. There have been a few near melt-downs and one big melt-down that E (aka GS1) witnessed and I think it made a big impact. Not that he’s doing anything wrong. He isn’t. However, his grandmothers have wildly different styles of relating to him and expectations in the smaller things. I think we’re in agreement on the bigger picture, but where we differ, we REALLY differ. That’s been a point of conflict from the very beginning. Even before E got here on a permanent basis, we were struggling with some things in our own relationship. G seemed annoyed at everything all the time. I felt like I was trying to figure out what was bothering her and fix it, but I could never put my finger on it, and everything I did seemed wrong or to make her worse. I think part of it is our income disparity and the fact that I’ll probably have to work until…forever. She wants to pick up and travel…like do road trips, etc., but then she freaks out about money and how, how, how it’s all going to be done. Now with E here, every other word out of her mouth is finances and we can’t do this and we can’t do that. Trust me, I spend my share of time thinking about the financial situation, but we are far from the curb. No one is behind on any bills, we’ve made and paid for good upgrades to the house, we’re not living on our credit cards and both working to get them completely paid off. I honestly don’t think we’re really spending any more money with him here than not, for the moment. I know she’s pissed off at my daughter, but really, she’s been pissed off at her pretty much since we met for one reason or another. This is a different level, though. She’s mad at her about me, but also about E. I’m not thrilled with her, but honestly, if she was going to treat him the way we were told (not by him, but by others), then it’s better that he got out of that situation and to a place where he can have some relief and a space for him to figure out who he is and what he can do, given the opportunity and encouragement.
Anyway, after some round and round conversations/discussions/arguments, etc., I took the plunge and signed us all up for a 12-week parenting class offered via Catholic Charities here in town. We had our first session on Wednesday and things are already about 75% better. The tension is WAY less, and I think G had her eyes opened about a few things, and I’m sure mine will be too, as time goes on. The group of families was really eclectic, which was great. Married couples, single moms, foster parents, us, etc. AND, the guy who is the teen facilitator in the breakout sessions stopped to talk to us afterwards. He’s gay and he and his partner adopted two boys who are now in their 20s, so he’s been there, done that. E came back from his breakout session similing, and then afterwards, on the way home, finally shared just a tiny bit, with tears, about “what his mom did” and also the fact that he’s never known his real dad–who departed when he was about 4 months old never to be seen or heard from again. He’s had sporadic contact with paternal family members, and we encouraged him to persue that if he wants to.
G. finally realized that it’s not so cool to be constantly ragging him about what he’s wearing and how “dorky” he looks. So, he wants to wear AND1 basketball shorts and black knee socks. So what? There are WAY more important things to bicker over. She finally “got” that all kids are going to dress “dorky” because it’s the one thing they have a little control over. He likes his hair short, he doesn’t sag his britches when he’s around us (that was curbed years ago), and he’s crazy about basketball, so he wants to emulate those guys. Could be worse–WAY worse. But, she couldn’t hear that from me, which is why these classes are going to be so good for us, I think. The facilitator is very good, great speaker, lots of tatts, has three teenagers of her own and comes from a traditional Latino background, so we’re in good hands. There’s a workbook and homework each week, so we’ll be sitting down together at least for a little while with no phone, TV, computer, etc. to talk about it. Last night, he kind of hung out in our bedroom talking and kidding around before he went to bed and then ran errands with me this morning, then came home and mowed the lawn. Now he’s down the street with his cousin playing basketball. HAVE to put a curb on the cologne down here, tho. Wow, I can hardly breathe. Whew!
He has a chore list of one specific chore each day, along with the regular stuff of making his bed, putting his clothes up, taking care of personal hygiene, etc. I’ll be taking him to the school he wants to go to after the first of August and get him situated there. I bought him a pair of school slacks today which will work if they have uniforms (and I hope they do). He found himself a pair of Jordan shoes on E-bay with G’s help and he’s keeping them clean with a toothbrush. It’s definitely an adjustment, but it could be SO much worse. He hasn’t raised his voice since he’s been here, and I just don’t see any of the behaviors that his mom was complaining about. Nothing like it, even when it’s obvious that he’s not happy about a rule or having to get chores done before play. No back talk or disrespect. But then, I don’t recall seeing her ever really talk to them, just be impatient when they didn’t hop to right away.
But the bottom line is that since Wednesday, things around here are MUCH more relaxed, and that is a blessing. I think G is finally realizing that teenagers ARE different, that yes, you, do have to tell them things over, and over, and OVER. Once just doesn’t cut it and if you think that, you’re going to spend your time in a resentful dither, which is where she was. I was like, so tell him again, remind him. And she didn’t think she should have to. I asked her, do you want him to do whatever it was you assigned him? Then tell him, remind him, yes, again, yes, again, until he does it. Eventually it will click, but not on the first go ’round. Now I think she gets it.
We still have a long way to go, and I’m sure we’ll have some rough spots here and there, but at least I have a lot more hope than I did last week and that is a very good thing.