Sunday, September 23, 2007

No Follow-up (udate, twice)

Friday evening Frankie expressed a strong desire to write to his father (with my help) and telephone his mother. I agreed to both of these, but so far neither of us has mentioned it again. I think I am making the right choice by not mentioning it, but I am not completely certain.

One thing I have noticed with kids who have been neglected is that they don't tend to ask for things more than once -- unless like Evan they don't stop asking for them at all. They have experienced so much disappointment that they protect themselves, usually by not letting themselves care too much. They tell you that they need a new coat but then don't say anything. Where the bioboys would remind me if they figure I've forgotten, the other boys will do without, not risking repeating the disappointment.

So I try to remember to follow up on commitments I've made to them. I do sometimes forget, but I try. Sometimes I tell them to please remind me the next time we are in The City that they need shoes, or school supplies, or whatever it is they have told me they need.

So there is part of me that thinks I should say, "Frankie, if you want to write a letter to your dad right now we can" or "Frankie, I'm programming your mother's phone number into your cell phone. You can call her whenever you like."

I am leaning towards doing the second (programming the phone), but not the first. But I am not certain.

Frankie's initial response to thinking about his dad is to want to contact him. But thinking about him also upsets him. I want to support Frankie in doing what he wants to do. But it is unclear to me what he really wants to do and what he feels that his is supposed to do and would rather not do.

He's a complicated kid. If he were developmentally closer to 15 I would feel more confident that I should just leave it in his hands. He seems like a much younger kid though so I am torn between feeling like I should facilitate what might be good for him and protecting him from what might be bad for him. Of course to do that, I first have to decide what is good and bad for him.

Anyone hearing the word "co-dependent" here?

I am sad, though not surprised or angry, that his mother has not called. It makes perfect sense to me that she would demand to know our number, and then not call us. Not knowing where her kid was was distressing. She was outraged that the people of the system would HIDE him from her. She needed to know where he is.

Now that she knows, the control and responsibility is in her hand. And even her lawyer, I am told, is telling her to relinquish her rights because she won't get them anyway. So she has a phone number for a son she has barely seen for more than five years. She has no relationship with him. She doesn't know what to say.

So I don't think she has decided not to call. I think she just can't make herself do it now. And it is possible that that won't change.

So I don't really know what to do. I suppose just being ready to help Frankie if he asks is best.

I suppose.

I wish I had taken more photos before he shaved his head.

Update One: I put his mother's number into his cell phone. He wanted me to label it "Mom2," which I did. He's now wandering around complaining about being bored.

Update Two: Following Process's recommendation I told him when he did not appear to have anything to do that if it was a good time for him, I could help him write a letter to his dad. He said it wasn't a good time and picked up the WoW manual. I'll try again another time.


  1. Is there a way you could do something similar to the cell-phone programming for the letter to his dad? Setting out a block of letter paper somewhere, and saying something inviting but noncommittal ("Here is some letter-writing paper we can use to write notes or letters, like the letter to your dad you mentioned")? Such that you've indicated willingness/interest without being pushy? Of course, if thinking about his dad is upsetting a visual reminder may not be ideal. What a tricky line to tread!

  2. I don't think it's necessary to tread so lightly. I would say, "Frankie, I have time now to help you write to your dad now if you want." The ADD probably makes him forgetful even about doing something he wants to do. If he does really want to avoid it, he'll find a way. Besides, part of your job I think is to help Frankie learn how to manage the feelings he has when he's triggered.

  3. Thanks for editing. I was beginning to feel like the blogging police. hehe

    I was very interested to read what you wrote about neglected children not asking for things again. I have noticed this in my house and I have always thought it meant that they weren't really interested or that it wasn't really important to them. Thanks for making me reexamine that!

  4. I would suggest this is an issue to bring up with his counselour and let the professionals figure it out. It sounds like he's torn in a lot of different directions and is concerned about loyalty to a lot of different parties (you and hubby included). The counselour is trained to help Frankie learn that he can have loving (and hopefully healthy or healthier) relationships with all of you. You can't fix it with a letter or a phone call.

    It has been easiest for me over the years to simply have ZERO contact with my mother. Since I moved out umpteen years ago, I have seen my mother at my first wedding in 1999 and at my father's funeral in January 2006. Both times caused me insane amounts of anxiety - even though there is *nothing* she could possibly do to me anymore.

    Also as a side note (and the parent of a ADHD child), what's that famous joke?
    Q: How many kids with ADHD does it take to change a lightbulb?


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