**Note: I published this first on the private blog but decided to bring it over here.**
Well, Sis was pretty upset. Nephew has been setting fires for a while. He has been playing around with various substances including fertilizer. The whole NPR story on making homemade fireworks was really a bad idea for him. I'm not blaming NPR, by the way. Nephew has access to information and was accessing it from before the story.
Anyway, Sis of course is worried that her son is a terrible person, will grow up to be a terrible person. She was in something of a shock. Her son set fire to their house. The fire was right below the hall outside her door. The wicker shelf outside her door caught on fire after they got out. If she had not woke up in time she and the girls might not have been able to get out. Nephew's room was on the other side. He would have made it.
I calmed her some, I hope.
What Nephew had set fire to was actually some of his dad's things. He has been burning up his father's stuff, a bit at a time, for a while now. It is certainly serious and it needs to be responded to, but the house fire was a terrible and unintended consequence of his actions. He did not intend to set fire to the house and he did not intend to hurt anyone. One of the things he needs to learn is that his actions can have consequences far beyond what he intends, but I encouraged Sis to remember that he wasn't trying to burn up the house.
Fortunately, the authorities now know all about his father and the church. They know about his father because they know why he set the fire. They know about the church because the fire marshall made them sign a form allowing them to release information to other people for their own protection. They wanted the pastor to know, and my sister had to explain why that might not be safe for Nephew. I don't know if they will do anything, but at least they know.
I was a bit tough on my sister. I told her that her kids grew up believing that God thinks they should be beaten. That can mess you up pretty bad. All things considered, I think her kids are pretty healthy. Nephew has a chance to become a good man. He is going to need a lot of help, but he can get there.
I've come to think that is one of the most important things we can do for our kids: show them that we know what they have done and we still think they are worthy. They are not defined by the things they have done.
I am hoping so very much that "they" don't let my BIL have unsupervised access to Nephew.
I guess we will see what happens.
Nephew is going to go back to his previous therapist. The fire marshall will be going along for the first visit. When Nephew went before his father had already left for Iraq so there wasn't any reason to believe that he was in continued danger. I am really hoping that this time around there are enough people who know that he will be kept safe. Certainly they know that he is terrified of what his dad will do when he comes home.
Sis lacks confidence in his previous therapist because she thought he didn't need more counseling when Sis thought he did & because Nephew lied about some of the things he had done and she believed him. I suggested that she keep an open mind. Someone who has been lied to may be better. She knows how convincing he can be.
Daughter, sister, wife, mother, foster-parent blog writer, philosophy professor ... I am and have been many things. These days my identities as a teacher of bioethics and the daughter of a woman with Parkinson's and dementia lead me to agree with Peter Singer, "It's different when it's your mother."