Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Birthday Conversation

Gary left school early today because the pain from the Shingles was wearing him down. It might have actually been worse today, but it might also have been just that he was wearing out from being in pain day after day for so long. He slept all afternoon on the sofa and seemed better this evening, although he did take another pain pill.

We talked about his birthday. He wondered if his father would call like he did last year and what his dad would say if he did. He wanted me to understand that he didn't really care one way or another, but he was curious. I suggested it was like really wanting to know what the next chapter of the book was going to say.

We talked a little about termination and about the emotional impact. He is of course all teenage tough guy. He doesn't think that it will be a big deal to either of his parents. They will not bother to respond, or if they do they will just sign the papers and never think of him again. He believes he means nothing to them, and they mean little to nothing to him.

He insists that his mother can't possibly still have parental rights. His father got those terminated a long time ago. No one else thinks that is true. Certainly there is no record of it. It is true that his father had full-time custody and he has only had contact with his mom a few times in the past fifteen years. It might be that his father was talking about custodial rights or something. That is not how he understands it though. He has not seen or heard from her in a decade. The idea that the state has to track her down and deal with her so that we can adopt him seems to offend him. I guess I can understand that.

I told him that I didn't think that this would be a casual thing for either of his parents. Even if they think it is the right thing to do, they won't take it lightly. He doesn't believe me.

I also told him that this was probably going to be emotionally complicated for him too. I wanted him to know he didn't have to pretend to feel anything other than what he felt. People who get divorced, who believe it was the right thing to do, often still feel sad on the day the divorce is final. He gets that, he says, but he won't feel sad. He's let go of all his attachment to them a long time ago.

I think he is in denial but, as a psychologist once explained to me, denial is a good thing. It protects us from thinking and feelings things we are not ready to think or feel. He has an emotional journey to travel and he needs to travel it in his own time and his own way. I just need to keep letting him know that it is okay to express whatever he feels.

And I confess I also wonder if his father will call him for on his birthday.

I have a feeling he won't.


  1. I'm really glad you're having these conversations with Gary, even though he's convinced he doesn't need them. I think just validating that he might feel certain things and that it's fine for him to feel them can be a big help down the line if he ends up in a situation he hadn't expected. This must be a lot to deal with on top of the physical pain he's feeling. I hope both are resolved for him soon.

  2. totally unrelated, but (oh btw, when did Gary get shingles?!?)...great article on the NY Times about coming out in middle school, thought you might want a peep. I stumbled on it accidentally...


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