Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jerry Springer, Wherefore Art Thou?

I'm just gonna lay it all out there.

Temper tantrums are many things, including annoying, scary, loud... and did I mention annoying?  I've had to deal with a few lately.  Here's the real problem:  Mad is not having them (oh sure, she occasionally gives it a go, but she's too good a sport still to keep it up).  No, it's Corey.

One of the things we do when he's losing his mind is send him out of the house for a walk.  When this happened the day he got suspended, he first tried to kick down the gate on one side of our house.  The other night, after we had to call a family meeting... and included Lisa and her family (in front of whom Corey was a perfect gentleman... so don't tell me he can't control himself), he tried beating a broomstick on the ground to break it.  He was out in the front yard and, yes, neighbors were watching.  When that didn't work, he tried smacking the side of the house.  In both cases, I quietly but firmly asserted that if he destroyed anything, I would call the police.  Meanwhile I'm thinking "Please don't make me call the police!"  That night I had to send him out three times.  The last time I told him that if he so much as tripped on a stone on his way to the sidewalk, I would make the call.  (Yes, overly dramatic on my part... *sigh*... I know.)  Upon returning he seemed remorseful and we ended up on a semi-polite note.

Since then, things have been like a magic carpet ride, but without the psychedelic colors.  At the moment, Corey and Lisa can only see one another at school until they each start making better decisions (I'll let your imaginations fill in the reasons why).  Even though she's part of the problem, I'm hoping that Lisa is part of the solution, too.  I saw her last night.  She apologized for having Corey in her seventh period (he doesn't have one; why the teacher let him be there is still unfathomable) and then taking him to an after school sewing class (because yeah... Corey had an unfulfilled desire to make a bag that attaches to the side of a table... who knew?!).  I've talked with both of them about helping one another make the right decisions so they can be together.

The adults in Lisa's life are all fabulous in their own ways.  We are bonding over the kids, but they are typically not my type of people.  For example, the people I refer to as Lisa's parents are really her aunt and uncle.  Except that the man I thought was her uncle is really her aunt/mom's boyfriend.  This was made clear last night when Lisa's uncle accompanied her over to my car to apologize. 

Don't worry, I pulled it off and he never knew I spent 10 minutes wondering if this was the boyfriend I'd heard about.  It was kind of fun trying to explain it all to Tom later.  He has requested a chart.

Corey, as it turns out, is not the only Jerry Springer Fan Club member in my family.  Here's a little white trash history:

My mom and her first husband, Russ, had my brother and I.  This was in the sex, drugs and rock 'n roll age (and no, I'm not lying when I say my parents almost named me Pebbles Flint Stone).  Eventually Russ met a 17 year-old girl named after a piece of fruit.  Russ and his best friend, Craig, handcuffed said girl so Russ could kiss her.  I was about three months old.

To her credit, Fruit Girl had him arrested.  To enter the JSFC, she also pretty much immediately fell in love and soon after was pregnant with her first daughter.

At that time, Craig was married to his second wife, Darlene, a crazy-ass yotch who bore him a daughter and a son.

Somewhere in the drugged and boozy haze, Craig and Darlene divorced.  He got the kids (for a man to get full custody back in the early-ish '70s was insane, so imagine what Darlene was like).  Mom and Craig hooked up (the order of things varies depends upon who tells the story).  I was two or so.  They married when I was five, separated when I was 13, got back together and divorced two years later.  Despite some pretty lame-assed decisions on his part, the man has always been there for me.  He is Dad.  His daughter is my sister and one of my best friends.  His son is... well... I refer to him as my stepbrother and leave it at that.

I mostly didn't see or hear from Russ when I was a kid.  There was once at age 5, once at 11 and then he started coming by whenever he was in town when I was 16 or 17.  I was kind of excited to have him in my life.  His wife (the fruit woman) calls herself my Wicked Stepmom.  She calls me her Sweet Pea.  I love her like an aunt or an older sister.

Dad remarried three days after his divorce from Mom was final, and the new wife wasn't exactly keen on having his ex-wife's kids hanging around.  It didn't stop him from rescuing us all when we were in a bad car accident, though.  Or when my crappy little car was stolen and taken on a high speed police chase.  Again, always there...

His wife slowly accepted me.  In a soap-opera-worthy turn of events, she saw that I am devoted to her husband and, because of him, to her when she, her two daughters and their five kids were in a multiple-rollover accident that almost cost Margaret her ability to walk and almost took her grandson from all of us.  (It took me three tries to over two weeks to get all the blood and debris from her hair... or at least from the part she wasn't resting on.)

Margaret is the woman who watches Madelyn every day.  Today she told me (again) how she always tells people she's so lucky to have a granddaughter to watch who is such a joy.  We don't know what we'd do without Margaret.

For a while I felt as though I had two dads.  Some people might call one Dad and the other Father.  I tried that mentally and it didn't work.  With Russ I vacillated between Russ and Dad.

As I got to know more about that part of my family, I was put off by the lies Russ had told over the years.  We always thought he had a Purple Heart because the helicopter he was piloting in Viet Nam crashed... or because of something to do with shrapnel.  Compare that to the truth:  The jeep he was driving (badly, as per usual from my experience) in Japan rolled into a ditch during war time.  Those surgeries at the VA?  Yeah, he has a medical ass problem.  There are more lies that span his entire life.

Somewhere in my early adulthood I learned he was having an affair.  Wicked Stepmom was shattered, but they were able to reconcile.  Seven or eight years ago he admitted that it had never stopped and it wasn't going to.  Wicked Stepmom has her own reasons for staying; some from necessity, others are, I'm pretty sure, required to maintain membership in the JSFC.

Russ and I haven't spoken since then, but I talk with his wife 1-2 times a month and keep in touch with one sister via Facebook.

And here's where it gets weird (I know!)... tonight I received an email from someone I didn't recognize.  The subject regarded something I'd gotten from other people, though, so I opened it.  It was from Russ.  No personal message... he was just forwarding something that everyone else in my family had sent around.***  Maybe he's working on a JSFC coup... a takeover of the presidency or something.

***That's another family trait of ours.  If my aunt sends something to Mom, Bro and me then Mom and Bro will send it to all the same people, plus some of their friends, who are also my friends.  Each and every one of them apparently fears I might have been left out.  Sometimes things make two full rounds!


The Rambler said...

Whoa Shan...that was soap opera-y. I had to re-read to stop being so lost....actually it's not very hard for me to be lost :)

Hank said...

I'm with Tom. Need a chart. ;-)

On a more serious not, I was always amazed to hear stories like this since I had practically no experience with the family dynamics involved with divorce, etc., while growing up. When I heard about other kid's situations, I always thought that if that was my mom or my dad that did such-n-such I'd be pissed.

If nothing else, I figured that people are more resilient--and possibly more compassionate and/or forgiving--than we give them credit for.

Then I met my wife and was exposed to her JSFC family. I'll need to draw a chart...

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