Sunday, January 22, 2006

Evan -- master of the "real world"

When Evan moved in he was already nearly 18.

We agreed to very different sort of relationship than we had with the other boys. We agreed that we would work on the assumption that he could make his own decisions and would ask for help when he needed it.

For the most part this has worked very well. He asks for help with school, planning for life after high school, and how to cope with his manipulative mother (more, perhaps on that later).

But there are other things that he feels he does not need help with at all -- and I feel that he does. But I don't think there is anything I can do about it.

He has friends who he suspects are involved in criminal activity. He does not "hang out" with these friends, but he does talk for hours on the phone with them, one in particular who has now moved to another state (hurrah). Let's just refer to this fellow as X. Now Evan doesn't know for certain what X does. What he does know is that X seems to have a good deal of money and no job -- oh yes, he owns several guns.

I talked with Evan about my concerns, and it was as though we were speaking a different language. Evan kept trying to reassure me. He would like to go visit X and I should not worry.

"I can handle myself. Don't worry. If I walk into his apartment and there drugs and guns I won't freak out. No one's going to trick me into doing something I don't want to do. I am not going to get arrested. And I know how to act around thugs. I won't get beat up. I grew up with people like this. I'll be fine." And then of course he goes on, "You've been really sheltered, haven't you? I mean you just are not prepared to deal with the real world."

Oh where to start?

I didn't say: Not able to deal with the real world? I live in the real world. I am 42, have held real jobs (including some really bad ones), pay a mortgage, and parent a family. I have lived with one family member who was alcoholic, narcissistic and abusive, and with another who was severely bi-polar. I have called the police to take someone I love in handcuffs to the county mental hospital. I may not have lived with people who are criminals, but I have lived through thousands of hours of faculty committee meetings. Hell, I gave birth to a 9 lb 8 oz baby without any pain meds (not by choice). No 18-year-old who has never held a real job can tell me that I don't know what the world is like.

I did say that his confidence that he could take care of himself in a criminal environment was what worried me.

This made as much sense to him as, "We're sorry, but all the anesthesiologists are busy" did to me eleven years ago.

We went around in circles for a while, but I don't think I got through to him.

I am tempted to break my original agreement with him. I want to tell him that he may not talk to these people. Enforcing that though would require changing the basic rules of our relationship. We agreed in the beginning that as long as he was meeting his goals and not getting into trouble that we would not monitor his phone calls or do any of the other things that we would have to do to control who he communicates with.

Hubby is inclined to think we should let him visit X over spring break. He is going to move away in half a year anyway. Maybe it would be good for him to have a brief look again at the life he was pulled out of. Maybe the time away has created the perspective he needs to see it more clearly.

Or maybe we should lock him in his room for the week.

Next Post on Evan

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