I came home from the store this evening to find out that my 16 (almost 17) year old son has supposedly been leasing an apartment with his girlfriend for the last two months.
To say that I'm surprised is an understatement. I'm pissed, hurt, shocked...all at once. For the last year he's been hanging out with this girl--it started out that she was his tutor for school. And while she was hanging out with him, she told him about a guy she was dating who wasn't very kind to her. Naturally, my son, being the generally decent guy he is, wanted her to get away from the jerk. And he told us over and over that he was "done with her drama" because she kept going back to the other guy. Finally she left him for good, and started dating my son. She's 18, by the way, and a freshman in college.
So for the last few months he's been dating her. And we've tried to set some ground rules. "If she's going to be in your room, your door has to remain OPEN. Not an inch or so, but all the way open." It got shut a little more each time she was over, and only grudgingly reopened when we said something to him. "It's a school night, you must be in by 11:00." Somehow that got pushed further and further back every time they went somewhere. "Do something with your time other than hang out with her. Don't cut your other friends out of your life. Have some balance." Yeah, that didn't happen either.
He was nominated for Youth of the Year for our county again, and won. Third year in a row. We were very proud of him. He went to the State competition, and won. Again, we were very proud of him. But we were also trying to move into a new house, and the help we got from him was scant, and extremely grudgingly given. We chalked it up to him being upset that we were moving in the first place, and not having a say in the choosing of the house, or even whether we would move. What he doesn't seem to understand is that the heads of the household (his dad and I) make the decisions that we think best for the family, and when it comes to moving, not a single one of the kids has had any say in the matter.
He has told us that if he ever needs anything, he has "important people" and "contacts" who will help him out. People like our lieutenant-governor, and state senators. That's all well and good, but those are busy people. And, what, we're not "important people" to him? We won't be there if he needs something? Or are we just not good enough, or is he embarrassed to be part of our family? I really think that's a lot of what it is. And, oh, that hurts. It's very hard for me not to take that personally.
He thinks we don't understand him. And in a way, he's right. I don't understand why someone would want to get out of a house and away from a family that has done nothing but love and encourage him to the best of our ability. Yeah, we probably dropped the ball by not enforcing the rules of the house. We could have just not allowed her to come over. But we knew that if they weren't at home, they would be somewhere else. And we were trying not to fight with him. Maybe we should have. I don't know. All I know is that I feel like I've failed somehow, somewhere along the line, because so far, each and every one of my older kids (with the exception of Kaila, my middle daughter) has wanted to move out as soon as they physically could. And if I try to keep him here, he'll just run away, and yes, we'd call the police to bring him back, but he'd leave again, and do we really want to force him to stay here against his will? Is it even worth it?
The thing that kills me the most is that I feel that I have very little worth to him. After all, I'm only his stepmother. Every time he calls, he asks to talk to his dad. Even when it's something that I could easily answer or solve. There was one exception. Today he called and asked me to bring something to his work, without asking for Dave first. Nice to know I'm good for something, I guess. Sometimes I wonder if I made a huge mistake, because it really feels like I'm not appreciated, and I feel as if the kids would have been better off without me, like maybe they would have turned out better or something. But even through the times when they've upset me the most, I could look at them and think, "Even so, they're good kids, and hopefully I've helped them to be that way." It's hard to think that tonight, but hopefully soon.
And this has turned into a really long post, so I will go for now.