Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Do You Hear Me? Do You Care?

How does one know when to file a missing person's report? Who can you call to find out?

A little background before the story... we have a 15 year old son. He is mine from a previous marriage, but Tom has done everything he can think of to help make Corey feel like he belongs to us, especially since my ex-husband is nowhere to be found these days ("these days" being comprised largely of the past 13 years, with periodic spurts of knowledge as to his general whereabouts).

Since age four, Corey has exhibited some pretty intense emotional and behavioral problems. I could not begin to count the number of times that he was sent home from preschool and kindergarten. I could probably round the number of times he was suspended from kindergarten through third grade to the nearest five... maybe even ten. He and I have been through counseling on and off (mostly on) since he was nearing five. We've seen psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists, a cardiac specialist, a behavioral therapist, a chiropractor and his own physician too many times to count. He spent over two years in a class for kids with emotional problems, but with the support of the teacher he had (who's now a family friend), the counselor he had access to through that program, and his own hard work, he was eventually mainstreamed completely.

Corey was such a little guy then, smaller than most of the kids a year younger than he was, and still pretty immature for his age. He'd been working one year below grade level because his behavior had eliminated the standard curriculum during third grade. Thus I had him repeat sixth grade. He fit in pretty well with the younger crowd... for a couple of weeks.

In middle school it became increasingly difficult for him to manage his behavior. Plus he grew a mustache and about five inches during sixth and seventh grade. We looked at all the options available to us and chose an independent study program. It has been a godsend. Since July of last year Corey completed eighth, ninth and part of tenth grade (in other words, he's where he should be, credit-wise). The program he's in is excellent in some ways (field trips and camping trips abound... and they're free!), and not so great in others (the curriculum is occasionally very poorly constructed, and Corey's high IQ rebels against having to deal with dumb stuff, like, "If you one million dollars, what would you do?"... I didn't leave any words out ... the most important verb... won, lost, found, stole... was missing. Corey's response was, "I'd hire someone to fix your curriculum" or something like that).

Tom and I have been married slightly less than three years. Almost immediately upon getting married and moving in together, we had problems with Corey taking stuff from our room or from our office... some stuff just to have, other things to disassemble. In all honesty, I'd had that problem for years, but it was a minor annoyance to me then... once Tom's things came into the picture, the problem became clearer to me. Then we started noticing other stuff showing up in his bedroom. Stuff that wasn't from us... a lot of it seems to be junk. He apparently gets it from fields and dumpsters in the area.

Recently we've been having a problem with him "finding" airsoft guns. Yeah. The money I'm missing and the pawn shop that's not too far from here are pretty easy explanations for those.

Another problem that we've had in the past few years is that Corey leaves in the middle of the night sometimes. He did it about six months after we were married and one of our neighbors thought he was a prowler so they called the police. Corey tried to say it was the first time, but it turned out that wasn't true. However, it went really badly for him with the police and then with us, and I really didn't think he was still going out.

Two weeks ago I learned the folly of my thoughts when we had to call the PD to find out where to go pick him up. There was a long, extremely convoluted story that he told about how the police came to be involved. I'm not going to bother to type it all out here; suffice to say that he either got lost and overreacted, completely imagined some events or made them up to try to cover his own butt. It's also possible that any of these choices are combined in some way. The not-quite-end result is that I had to go to a neighborhood about a mile from here to pick him up. Thankfully, he wasn't cited for breaking curfew, so our interaction with the police could have stopped there. However, Corey's pretty sure he's seen a car that he said was involved with him that night, so we called the police again to have them come talk with him.

One of the good things about not living in a big city is that every single time we've dealt with the police in the past month (four times and counting), the same officers have come to see us. We are now on a first name basis with one, Jim. He and another officer know my son's history reasonably well. So when we had a major blowout last week that ended when Corey ran out of the house, slamming the screen door so hard it wouldn't stay shut after that, it was sort of a relief to have Jim come to talk with us. Corey had been gone for a couple of hours at that point. We weren't sure if we should be reporting him as a missing person or not. I'd called Mom to let her know that Corey might be on his way and Tom had driven around the neighborhood and then walked through the alleys before we called the police to find out what to do next.

It turns out that parents have a good deal of leeway in determining when and if to report someone missing. If (when?!) it happens again, I have a better sense of what to do. In case you're wondering, no, the police cannot really make you wait 24 hours to file a missing person report, even though they might try it.

So, it's been loads of fun in our house, as you can see. One upside to all of this is that we've had lots to talk about during our weekly counseling sessions.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Patron Saint of Potty Mouths

I'm not one for sitting in long meetings and behaving well. One of my best friends, Nance, knows this. Sometimes she feeds the fire, but generally keeps me under control. Last year during a particularly long-winded speech by one of our esteemed colleagues, Nance wrote me a note that said, "STFU," meaning shut the fuck up. We tried not to laugh about it until later when we were safely out of the building. We vowed to tell one another to St. Fu (Saint Foo) whenever necessary from then on. Too bad she's not always by my side.

New mommies are notorious for sharing too much information. Seriously, I would love to recount for you some of the experiences of my pregnancy, labor and delivery. Maybe I will someday soon.

After Corey was born, we spent eight months of his infancy in Oklahoma with my then-husband and his family. It was a very different lifestyle and life philosophy than I was accustomed to, but I'd say the ratio of great, decent and rotten people was about the same there as anywhere else. Still, I didn't really have many women in my life to talk about things with, and I'm pretty sure I hadn't even heard of the Internet yet. It was quiet and fairly isolating. The best I could do was to write and rewrite the story of Corey's birth (man, I'm glad for the backspace key!) and obsessively fill out his baby book and first year calendar.
This time around, my life is about a 180 degree switch from back then. For one thing, Mad's first year calendar pretty much details her social and culinary life, rather than being a day-to-day accounting of her life thus far.
A couple of friends from the childbirth class that Tom and I took together also went to a new mommy group with me, where we got to share our birth stories, struggles and successes of life with our newborns. The three of us still get together regularly, and two more occasionally join in. Even now, six months later, the topics are wide-ranging and deeply personal... not so much when the two stragglers are there, but it's still more than most groups of extremely divergent women share so soon after knowing one another, I think.
With Corey, I stayed home until he was nearly a year old, only returning to work because of my separation and divorce. Although I wish I could be a stay at home mom now, there came a time when I had to return to my job. Luckily for me, Mad was nearly five months old. Still way too soon, but I remember trying to count my blessings when she was six weeks old and my "disability" ended. Even after so much time off... and so much of that spent deep in conversation, the desire to really share the inner workings of my brain is apparently quite strong. Too strong, some might say. My coworkers, for example.
In the past six weeks since returning to work, I have told a principal that she needed to "help a sister out" in regards to a teacher friend of mine and the completely mediocre principal who's in charge of her site. I have pointed out to the program specialist of a neighboring district that the reason one of his schools only had 21 students attend our event was that one of his teachers arbitrarily closed the enrollment. The other day at the office, within a five minute span, I announced that I was glad my nipple rings were out (because I'd just gotten an electric shock from a passing coworker... it was bad, but not as bad as getting one from a car while pierced) and then proceeded to admit that I sometimes forget to close my nursing bra back up after pumping in my car... and even if I do, there's no telling which way my nipples will be pointing.

I'm not Catholic, but perhaps I need to get one of those medals that Catholics wear. Do they make one for Saint Foo?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Where Did the Time Go?

I haven't written on this blog for over five years. I guess the whinefest I left last time I was here was just too damn annoying to return. One of my friends, Tiana, recently established a blog here, so I figured I'd send her a little shout out. It took me about five minutes of fooling around to figure out that I'd never remember my user name/password combo. Once that was all squared away I reminisced (after gagging during the last post) by reading some of my other essays.

I've also been following the blog of a woman whom I guess a lot of people followed, Michelle Mayer's Diary of a Dying Mom. She passed away today. Reading her posts have often left me in tears. Heck, thinking about her posts has often caused my eyes to sting.

It's admittedly shallow, but I don't tend to carry other people's problems around with me. It's not exactly an out-of-sight-out-of-mind deal, but it's close enough that I'm not proud to admit it.

But Michelle and her family, especially her young children have weighed heavily on my mind. Maybe it's because of my own two kids and how I worry about what will happen to them if anything should happen to me. It's probably also the clear, open way Michelle has written about her experience and journey from life to death. Somewhere along the blog I could see that she's the type of woman I would have as a friend, and I felt like a friend to her, silently cheering her on. Even as she said her good-byes, I hoped that the disease that was claiming her life would miraculously reverse itself. It did not.

I wondered how I would react when she passed away. My heart has been aching for the past several days. Between yesterday and today I must have checked her blog 10 to 15 times at least. The image of all those people waiting for the light to go off in Evita has come to mind frequently.

This evening, the news came that she had passed away earlier in the day. As soon as tears started to well up in my eyes, I calmed back down. What a relief for this wonderful and brave woman. And there must be some relief for her family, too, who have seen her through the last year or so of what must have been intense suffering. I am sad. I'm sad for Michelle and for her family and friends. I'm sad for me.

But I'm hoping that Michelle isn't really gone; I hope she's finding out what's on the other side. I hope that it is peaceful and pain free, filled with people who love her and have been waiting to welcome her. Her grandmother, for example. I can't buy into the Baptist version of heaven that I was raised with, in part because I can't believe that streets paved with gold and pearly gates are truly of any value beyond what we place on them here. Perhaps the John Whatshisname's version is the one she's found. In any case, hope Michelle is able visit her mother as requested.
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