Thursday, August 18, 2011

6 Month Re-Cap

It's been over 6 months since Joseph came to our home to live full-time. What  a fun-filled, hectic, perplexing, happy time it has been!  He came to our home not too sure of himself, angry, depressed, low self-esteem and in danger of flunking out of 8th grade because he hadn't been attending and the truancy officers were after him and his dad.  And so it was with some sense of desperation that his dad called me after all these years of my wishing he was with me, wishing I could help him, wishing that he weren't so far away.  Now here was my opportunity and I seized it.  While his dad was still hemming and hawwing about whether or not he should be living with me, trying to think of a way to get out of paying for him to come out, I simply got online and purchased a one-way ticket for Joseph to come.  I bought the ticket without getting a final affirmative answer, without knowing whether he would be on the flight and without knowing whether I could afford it, but I knew that he needed to come immediately or his 8th grade year might not be salvageable. I provided the means.  No strings attached.  Thank goodness my ex thought enough of Joseph to let him come and live with his other family. The semester had already begun.  Time was of the essence.  He had already completely flunked out of the fall term.  He needed to make some things up really quickly or else...He arrived on January 31st and started school the next day.  Off to the races.  I was working full-time and so I depended heavily on Greg, my husband, to pick up the slack.  We have been married for over 10 years now, since Joseph was 4.  Joseph knows us as the other parents--the ones he sees once, maybe twice a year if we're extremely lucky.  
    Joseph was definitely thrown into very unfamiliar territory.  The kids here didn't even talk like him.  He had trouble understanding their lingo, since he has been living in the deep south since he was 6 years old.  Where were the woods that he was used to taking off to for hours?  Why was there a woman in the house?  He was used to living with his Dad and only sometimes had his stepmom in the house, when she wasn't with her own kids in Utah.  Why were we always bugging him with things like bedtime, shower time, wake up time, homework time, church time, family home evening, chores?  The structure was like a ton of bricks on him.  It was suffocating.  Nevertheless, he was obedient and tried his best.  He didn't miss a day of school.  And at the end of the school year, in May, he had a 3.86 GPA.  I literally couldn't have done it without Greg.  Joseph wasn't used to the influence of a mom--me.  The only thing I had been able to do for many years was to give him a once a week phone call and that had started only a few years ago.  Before that, contact was very limited.  He definitely related to Greg better, even though he wasn't used to the structure that Greg insisted on.  Sometimes I felt so bad that he was obviously having a hard time and Greg would insist on close to perfection from him.  I said, "Can't we just be happy for some progress in this area and not be so hard on him?"  But Greg's answer made sense--"He doesn't have the luxury of time.  He needs to learn this now.  If he doesn't learn it now, it will be too late.  So he needs to get it NOW."  And so I tried to support what were obviously hard and painful things for Joseph to pick up.  Literally, picking up his dishes and bringing them upstairs to the kitchen was and continues to be a big, difficult battle.  Not spitting in the kitchen sink and other hygiene issues--rather important in civilized society-- needed to be worked on as well.
    But can I just say that when he smiles, the world smiles with him?  He's got the most beautiful smile and it melts my heart.  I fall in love with my son every single time he smiles.  Other than that, I'm in constant self-reminder mode about how much he means to me and that I need to exercise patience and long-suffering. (Like the time he came in and with a huge smile told me that he wrecked my beloved bike, like I was supposed to give him an award...)
  • Things broken -  fishing pole, my bike, my earphones, shower stall door, back gate...
  • Things lost:  2 lighters, homework assignments, his electric razor (accused me of stealing it), wallet (accused me of stealing it),back pack (we drove to SLC to get it back)...
  • Teasing - Evee our dog, me, the neighbor girl who rides up and down the street on her bike, girls at school....
  • Loud noises - constant whistling, tracking in lots of stuff from outside, loud clapping, loud singing of nonsensical songs, blowing off fireworks at odd hours, maniacal laughing for no apparent reason...
  • Detachment - in room, not coming out for long periods, not wanting me to disturb him, not wanting to friend me on Facebook (that's OK, I just settled for his password!), resistant to hugs :(  
  • Bathroom - too much time in bathroom, hour long showers, face picking issues
  • Loves - Evee, the dog,  his brother, sleeping in, fireworks, longboarding, 'Everybody Loves Raymond' re-runs (It's so funny to hear him chuckling throughout the episodes), banana pancakes, FHE, watergate salad, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, Star Craft.
  • Progress:  3.86 GPA, made varsity for Provo HS as a Freshman, laughs more, talks more, is more outgoing, plays the guitar a little bit. Ordained a Teacher in his Teacher's Quorum, has stopped teasing me and the dog so much, has learned more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  
We've been struggling in many ways to provide Joseph with a fertile environment to be able to grow and progress.   Sometimes I wonder how we do it.  No one has helped us at all.  As a matter of fact, I have actually paid over $650 to Joseph's Dad while he has been with us.  We've wondered where each month's rent will come from and still do.  But if this is what needs to happen, then so be it.  I love Joseph so much.  I know who he was as a baby and I know his heritage and potential.  And I melt when he smiles!


Anonymous said...

Wow is the word that comes to mind! I've said this before, and I'll say it now, I'm SO glad Joseph can be with you and that you can have him. You are doing an awesome job!

scrilla said...

I feel so emotional reading this post. Maybe it's because I'm pregnant and expecting another little boy or maybe it's because just I admire you. But, anyways thank heavens for our boys big and small. We love them.

Chastina said...

What a great experience! It sounds like he is growing into his potential.

Crystal Escobar said...

Aw, what a great thing you are doing. Such an inspiration you are.

le Chef said...

Oh Helen, you did the right thing.
And he sounds word, for word, like my son.
the dog teasing, the loud noises, whistling, fireworks (And we live near several reservations, so he gets the BIG ones...) the picking, the breaking EVERYTHING he touches, the moody room stints of isolation - ALL of it.
Even the schooling.
And I pulled my little redneck boy from the deep south into Washington tree hugging. He'll never forgive me.
BUT - we did the right thing, you and I.

It can be a battle, but in the end they realize what they have, even if they won't friend you .. mine won't "friend" me either ;)

Hang in there, and GOOD ON YOU. It sounds like he's coming around.