August 21, 2010
Ten Reasons Why I Love My Wayward Son
It's been almost five months since Matt came back to live with us, and while I'm certain that he is internalizing much of the pain associated with the death of his father, I also know that he is coping better than I would have expected. He isn't a talker, and being raised to believe that "only crazy people go to therapy; that's why your mother goes", he's not one to try counseling. Believe me, we've encouraged it, we've tried our best to get him to go. But I have learned some things since he came home, and even if they aren't things I'd choose, they are true, nonetheless.
I have learned to let him be, more or less. He is no longer a kid. In many ways, he never really was. He's always been older than his years, and always a little less dependent on his parents than most kids. All his life, I have tried to mother him, care for him, take care of him - but in the end, I must realize that he's not that kind of person. He's very much like his dad was, in that way. Completely happy taking care of himself. Which is not to say that he doesn't want to be loved, or appreciated or even hugged and kissed. He's very affectionate and sweet when it comes down to it. He's just low maintenance, I guess. This is in such great contrast to Jack, and even Casey, I think, that it's hard for me to accept. My other kids like to be cared for, they like to have boundaries and structure. Not Matty, though. Nope, no coloring within the lines for that kid.
I worry that when Jack is almost 18 he will pull out the "But You Let Matthew..." card, but I doubt it. I think even Jack knows that the way Matt lives with us is different for a reason. Sometimes, you have to bend and reshape the way you do things for each kid. Sometimes, all the same rules need not apply in all situations.
Like the fact that Matt doesn't really have a curfew. This is a kid who has run away on multiple occasions, so really, setting a time to be home is pretty useless. The only thing I ask is that I know where he is and when he will be home. He doesn't really have to clean his room or make his bed, at least not as regularly as Jack is required to. He doesn't have a bedtime or rules about driving or using the internet. You think I'm crazy, don't you?
Here's the way I see it: he's almost 18 years old. He's been arrested twice and he' been in juvie. He has spent nights in places I don't want to imagine; he's been lost to me for so long that the mere thought of losing him again is more than I can bear. So I trust him. I trust that he will make the best choices he can and that he will tell me the truth when he doesn't. So far, he hasn't let me down. And he's still here.
Ten Reasons Why I Love Him
1. When he goes out, he always asks me if I have plans and need him to stay. He always tells me where he's going and with whom, even if he knows I don't like that particular friend, or event.
2. He cleans up after himself when he cooks and he does his own laundry (and anyone else's that happens to be in line).
3. He always offers to make something for anyone in the room when he's cooking or making a snack. He never fails to notice that other people are around him.
4. He offers me gas money if he needs a ride somewhere (!)
5. He texts me at 5:00 in the morning if he moves from where he was supposed to be spending the night so I always know where he is.
6. He tells me things about himself and his friends that are personal and sometimes shocking, but I know that he tells me because he trusts me with his feelings.
7. He does awesome little things for his brother, like taking him skating, or out for ice cream. Or, if he's going out for the evening, he'll go find Jack at whatever house he might be playing, and make sure he tells him goodnight. If he's home, he always goes in and says goodnight to Jack before he turns in himself. Even if Jack's asleep.
8. He compliments me on my outfits, or my hair, or something I've cooked.
9. He always, always, always, hugs and kisses me goodbye, or goodnight, and says I Love You a thousand times a day.
10. When all is said and done, he keeps coming home.