Friday, October 13, 2006

Carl's Story Part 9: consequences

The Carl story's are fun to he kept not telling me where he was, or lying to me, and what consequences I put in place to stop that behavior.

I don't know that I would ever do all of that again.

Part of what was going on was that my oldest child was eleven, and I was not certain how how teenagers were supposed to act. Carl knew that and was trying to take advantage of it. I also had a sense of security in our relationship that I haven't had with the others. Carl would not run away or call his social worker and insist on being moved. We were more like a typical mom and teen than I realized. We were both committed to the relationship; there was a little nervousness, but not much.

I did not go that far with Ann for a variety of reasons.

I did not hardly ever punish David because he was either wonderful and gave me no trouble whatsoever, or he was gone. Evan, for all his faults, has always been easy too keep track of. He sometimes omits telling me everything, but he is not the professional deceiver that David was or the compulsive liar that Carl was.

So I played hard ball with Carl, and I did eventually get him under control -- at least with respect to knowing where he was.

He lied about school. He lied about teachers. He lied about me to teachers. That last one always hurt. I wanted him to love me enough that he told people wonderful things about me (and to the parents of his friends he often did), but whenever it served his purposes to appear to be the poor orphan forced to grow up in uncaring foster homes, then that is how he appeared. That strategy stopped working at school fairly soon as I made certain to meet all of his teachers.

He ran up a over $100 in long distance charges and we put a long distance block on the phone. He would ask periodically if we were going to take it off. He would tell me that things like that interfered with me not trusting him. I told him that things like that were the consequences, not the cause, of me not trusting him.

During the winter we had a night-time thermostat flipper, and a day-time thermostat tweaker. The temperature would be moved up on degree at a time during the day and sometimes flipped up to 90 at night (I kid you not). I got angry, everyone denied it.

At one point I was furious, got into the car, drove to a home improvement store in The City, and came back with one of the locking boxes that goes over the thermostat.

I looked at Carl and said, "I'm holding you responsible for this. You're grounded for the weekend."

"But I didn't do it!"

"I don't believe you."

"But I really didn't!"

"You know, I think of it this way. Either you did and you deserve to be grounded, or you didn't and this is just the natural consequence of lying to me so much and you deserve it. So go to your room!"

It may have been around that time that I called the social worker and told her I needed a respite.

In the second summer we planned a road trip. We were going to go to visit Hubby's brother and see the nephew who had turned into a toddler without any of us getting to visit him. We were all looking forward to it. The week before though Carl told us that he had finally got a new job and they wanted him to start it when we would be gone. I sighed and agreed it was important and said I would stay with him.

The morning of the trip I woke up suddenly thinking, the auditions for the play that he wants to go to are this week. He doesn't have a job; he just wants to audition.

I pulled him out of bed and quizzed him and he confessed. That was progress, but I did not appreciate it. Hubby asked whether I wanted him to wait while I made Carl pack (and pack myself) so that we could all go. I was too furious to make a decision for a while, but I finally said that he should go with the younger ones. If Carl and I came along everyone would be miserable. Hubby kissed me and said, "Whatever you do, don't ground him."

"Why not?"

"Because then you would have to stay home with him to make sure he doesn't leave and you need to get out of the house."

I went back in and Carl was sitting at the table looking small and frightened. I was shaking and told him I was too angry to talk to him and he should leave me alone.

"Do you want me to stay in my room."

"I want you to stay out of my sight."

For a couple of hours I hid. Every time I went into the kitchen he came out to look at me to see if I was ready to talk. I finally hid and called the agency. I talked to the office manager. "Is the social worker there?" "No she is on vacation." "What about the supervisor?" "No." "Either of the two social workers who taught the class I took?" "No" "Listen, I have to talk to someone. Who's there?" "The family developer." "Great, transfer me."

I told him that I wanted to kill Carl, but that I knew that was wrong. I just really couldn't think of anything to do. We talked for a while and eventually he said, "do you know what you are going to do?" I said no, but that I was calm enough to talk to him.

I called Carl out to the kitchen. "Listen. I know you are waiting to find out what your punishment is, but right now I can't punish you. Every other time you have screwed up I could think about the right thing was to do. This time though you have ruined my vacation with the family. I am hurt and angry and all I want to do is get back at you. I am not going to. I'm an adult and I won't, but I can't punish you because anything I might do would feel like revenge."

"So what is going to happen?"

"I don't know, Carl. I know you think this is a small thing, but it isn't. This is the worst thing you have ever done to me."

"Do you want me to move out?"

For some reason that broke the calm I had been maintaining. I was furious. "The hell you will! You think you can walk away from this? Do you think you can make this kind of mess and then pack your bags and leave? Oh made this mess and you have to figure out how to fix it. Here's the thing: you have a PISSED OFF MOM and you better start thinking about how to make the situation better, not how to get out of it!"

I stopped long enough to look at his face. He was smiling. Not a big grin, but a little smile in a sad face. I realized what I had said and what it meant to him, but I was not in the mood for a sentimental moment and told him to just give me some space for a few hours.

Later he came out and said, "Do you want me to make us some lunch, Mom?"

That was the first time he called me "mom." It was more than a year after he moved in.

Part 10

1 comment:

  1. I've been catching up on your family's stories.. not sure why its taken me so long! The stories of your "punishments" for Carl have been cracking me up. They are just what my mom did/threatened to do when we were teens.

    But this post made me cry. Those first "mom" moments are priceless and they get me everytime.


Comments will be open for a little while, then I will be shutting them off. The blog will stay, but I do not want either to moderate comments or leave the blog available to spammers.