Monday, August 11, 2008

My life, the Circus

It wasn't supposed to be a stressful weekend. My son and Drama Queen set off for their hiking trip in Wyoming on Thursday morning. At 4:30 Thursday morning, I would like to point out. Ugh. My brain doesn't function at 4:30 in the morning. Anywho, my folks decided to head in the same general direction later that day, to see where the hike was happening and explore Casper, Wyoming. So, my daughter and I were on our own for the weekend.

Thursday night, we went shopping. School supplies, school clothes, and dinner out. Great fun! Ranger called while we were out and about, and I was relieved when he said he was headed home. I'd been afraid he'd ask to meet up with us, and this was Mommy-Daughter time.

It was a successful, but exhausting, shopping trip. She just appreciates everything so much, which makes me feel good.

Friday night, Ranger took us to see "Mamma Mia!" Good movie. Really cute. It was great fun, and good to hear my daughter laughing out loud during it. During the mother-daughter scenes, she would reach over and hold my hand. So sweet. I had a couple of wonderful moments where she was holding my left hand and Ranger was holding my right. Very nice.

On the phone later that night, Ranger said. "I have an idea. Why don't you get up early tomorrow and come over here, and sneak into my bed for awhile?"

"Because I have a child here," I said. "I can't have her wake up and wonder where I am. She knows me being gone on a Saturday morning would be weird."

He whined, but relented. He respects that my kids come first, so he really had nothing to argue.

Saturday was a lazy day. The rest of the family was due home that evening. We had a couple of things we needed to do, like clean up the kitchen, do laundry, and work on the lesson Daughter had to teach in her youth class at church the next day. But 1:00 in the afternoon still found Daughter and I on the couch, with her head in my lap, still in our pajamas and watching junk TV.
About 2:00, we finally dragged our lazy butts into the kitchen and started cleaning.
Daughter started her laundry, then came and put her arms around me. "I'm not ready for everyone else to come home," she said. I felt the same. We'd had a couple of days of peace, the major sources of stress having left the house. Now, we braced ourselves for their return.

I know, it's a sad statement. She's truly happy when my folks and her brother are not around. I'm so sorry for that stress in her life.

We went out to dinner, just the two of us, one more time. My folks got home shortly after we did. They had a wonderful trip, which was nice for them. Now, we just had to wait and see what kind of mood Son would be in, after their trip. I was hoping it would be something meaningful to him, despite his horrendous attitude when they left.

My folks headed off to the church to wait for the buses to return. I remembered at the last moment that my son's hot water knob in his shower had broken off right before he left. I grabbed the replacement and headed upstairs, knowing he'd want a hot shower after three days of being in the dust.

Before he left, he'd had to shut the water off with a paid of pliers. So, I used the same pliers to turn the stump of the handle, to figure out the problem and how to fix it. Well, that was the wrong thing to do. A little turn and the water started running. Okay. Then the noise happened. A rushing noise. I reached to turn the water off and...


The handle and cover shot across the bathroom, followed by a GEYSER of water across the room. I mean, high-velocity scalding-hot water!

I was understandably upset.

I hollered for my daughter, telling her to call her grandpa quickly. She came around the corner and started screaming. She's not really good under pressure...but she called Grandpa and handed me the phone.

I think I impressed the urgency of the situation because he drove about 65 miles an hour on country roads to get home. His headlights hit the front yard, to reveal me on my knees in the grass, trying desperately to get the bolts off the water box cover, so I could get to the valve.
to shut off the water.

My daughter sat in the grass next to me, FREAKING THE HELL OUT because she could still hear rushing water coming from inside the house.

My mother hauled my hysterical daughter upstairs and gave her a job: get a trashcan and start bailing water from the tub into the sink and toilet.

When the water box wouldn't cooperate, my dad ran t the water heater and shut it off. That worked. Wish I'd thought of that sooner.

The tub drained and the bailing stopped. My daughter had a new job: get towels and start mopping up water. We discovered a space in the tile, which was allowing water to drain from the floor onto the ceiling of the laundry room below. It was dripping in there.

We stood there and surveyed the scene. Shit.

My mom went to pick up Son and Drama Queen. I called Ranger and told him what happened. He offered to help fix the faucet-knob thing. I relayed this to my Dad.

"I know how to replace a faucet," my dad said, seeming pissed I'd said anything. "I don't need Ranger's help for that."

I knew I was risking insulting his plumbing-manhood further, but I had to ask. "Well...then why are you saying we need a plumber to replace it?"

He blinked at me. "I guess we don't. But I have to go get the right parts and it's too late tonight for that." He still acted pissed that Ranger offered to help. I don't get that.

My mom walked in and said, "Watch out. The kids had a terrible time. Sounds like it was awful."

Oh. Great.

And in walked two very sullen, dirty, smelly teenagers. The point of how hard the pioneers had it seems to have been lost on them. They are pissed at people in their respective groups who did not do their share of the work. My son's left hand is swollen to where he doesn't have knuckles because each time he got distracted while pulling the handcart, this other kid would smash his hand. This was apparently a "game" the two of them devised, called Bloody Knuckles. What is wrong with teenage boys?

Two of the boys in Son's group regaled them at night with their incarceration stories. My son turned down their invitation to sneak off and go cow-tipping after everyone turned in.

"She said I couldn't go," he said, indicating Drama Queen. "The guys said I didn't have to tell her I went, but I figured she'd find out and be mad."

"No," said DQ. "I didn't say you couldn't go. I said you had a choice."

He shot a look at me. "Yeah, a choice. To piss you off or to not piss you off."

"It's your choice," she repeated.

I had to laugh. But I also wondered -- where had the adult leaders been for this??

We talked and laughed a little longer. They told us stories of things that happened on the hike. Son said his Texan-ness showed when they were warned about the rattlesnakes, and he said, "So, who has the shotgun?" The stares from the group told him that this was a distasteful idea to this bunch. Sounded reasonable to us!

I told them it was time to get DQ home. It was almost midnight. I waited for them to get everything gathered up for her to take home. They started hauling it to the car, but something was different. Son's demeanor towards me had changed, very suddenly. He was being downright hateful, slamming doors and deliberately doing rude things to me.

This didn't improve when we got home. It got worse. He was in my face, hurling insults. Their bad time was all my fault, he shouted. I should have listened to him when he didn't want to go. "Not like it's something you could do," he sneered at me. "We'd have to baby you through something like this. You can't take it."

That made me blow my cork. "Don't you dare think you know anything about what I can and cannot do. You've never made any attempt to understand the path I've walked in my life. Do not assume you know anything about what I've endured and overcome. It's more than you've ever had to deal with, and I keep going and I keep providing for you."

See, dear Diary, I haven't had a single day without pain since I was 15 years old. About 25 years now, it's bee a daily struggle to push through and keep doing what I have to do. Why? Because I wanted a normal life. Because I'm not a quitter. And once I had kids, it was because they needed me, and you can't just collapse on that.

So, I went on to tell him that all these privileges he has and takes for granted can and will go away, until he can behave with some respect and gratitude.

What did he say to that? "Whatever." And he walked away.

I could just cry, but I'm afraid it would give him satisfaction.

I'm at a loss. I don't know what to do. So far, he's been locked out of the house computer. He's asked me to take him to get snacks at fast food places. The answer is a firm no, but I don't think he's getting it. Still, I don't think these things are the solution, but I can't think of anything else.

Ranger's heart breaks for me, when he sees this happening to me. He wants to protect me, but he can't step between me and my own son.

Sunday morning, we got the geyser to a trickle through the faucet and turned on the hot water long enough for Daughter to shower. She was the only one going to church because she'd prepared a wonderful lesson for her class and was excited to give it. The rest of us would wait for the repair to be done.

We headed out the garage door to go to the hardware store. In the car, we pushed the button to close the garage and...nothing. We got back out of the car and investigated. Now, this door was fixed about a week ago, when it wouldn't open. $200 and it won't close now. A cable had snapped, causing a wheel to bend, and it was stuck.

We went back in the house and sulked.

Later, Mom and Dad decided to fix it. They ended up snapping other cables and bending the track, but the door is closed. And it'll stay that way for awhile. That's going to be a nice bill, I'm sure.

Sunday evening, the faucet was finally fixed. It turns out, the replacement I bought wouldn't have fit, anyhow. Our fixtures are too old and difficult to fit. Dad gave me the pieces and said, "Here, you might be able to return this." Uhm, I'm pretty sure Wal-mart wants all the parts of the package back, too....

My daughter hugs me a lot, and kisses me on the forehead. She is thinking what I'm thinking. We're remembering a couple of days and nights of peace, enjoying each other's company, and wishing for it again.


Sparx said...

Oh my god, lady, you are having a ROUGH time! I am so sorry to read all this, it sounds awful. I know you know this, but the teenage years don't last forever... I'm dreading them myself. Glad you have your lovely daughter and Ranger to cheer you up, sounds like you need them right now. big hug!

Blogget Jones said...

Thank you, Sparx! I know...this too shall pass. But it's making me nuts in the meantime! This is not how I've raised him to least I hope not!

Thanks for the hug!!!

:o) BJ

Lady in red said...

I can so empathise because I have been going through similar with my lovely fist born and it breaks my heart. I had numerous conversations with my mother about him a few weeks ago and all she can say of any comfort is grin and bear it he will get better.....but the hardest bit is that I don't want to go through this heartache with the other 3.

well meaning friends tel me that my problems mostly stem from my son one way or another and I should try the tough love of telling him to leave. I think that would be easier if he wasn't generally a lovely lad. But I have shed more tears because of him than anyone/thing else in the last 18 months or so.

It does help knowing that other mothers are going through this same heartbreak. I just wish we didn't have to. I could say perhaps it would be better if he had a father figure around but his father is around just isn't bothered.

lots of hugs from one mum to another

Blogget Jones said...

Oh lovely lady, my heart breaks for you! I know the hurt you're talking about! It's good to commiserate, though, and know other mums are hurting, too. Every says it gets better....but I just wish it wasn't so bad....

Lots of love and hugs to you, too!!

:o) BJ

Fire Byrd said...

My now 17 year old has spent too many years now being angry and disrespectful to me. So earlier this year when still 16 when he announced he was having a party when I was away for the weekend and I was feeling bullied something snapped in me.
So the next morning I woke him up and told him that I'd had it.
That it may be his home but it was my house and I'd brought everything in it with my hard earned cash.He wasn't really wanting to listen, but then I got to the crunch. I said very quietly and seriously that if he didn't like it he didn't have to live here. That obviously I did want him to leave home he was too young. But that if he was so unhappy living with me then maybe he should move out.
This conversation stopped him in his tracks. And since then we have got on a lot better.
I'm not saying that this would work on your son, but I do removing priviledges from my son would have been a joke.
he still has anger problems and I still remind him that he doesn't have to stay, which has th effect of getting him to clam down reasonably fast, well compared to how he used to be.
Your son will come through this, and I can only say this as I see glimmers of the adult in Alex on more occasions than previously.
thinking of you lots

Mike said...

If you want, I can beat your son with drama queen.

Two benefits:

Your son learns some respect
I get to beat on teenagers. I hate teenagers.

Walker said...

I have had my hands full lately with the goings on of teenagers.
There has to be a way where we can lock them up until they are 40 or we run away to the real circus.
At least you had a good time with your daughter and that was a huge possitive just don;t let the drama queen near her to spoil her.

Blogget Jones said...

Byrd -- I SO feel for you with your son! The disrespect and unfounded anger have been driving me out of my mind! Good for you for standing up, though. My son hasn't gotten his driving permit yet, and I keep telling him that we can't work on that until I know he won't be a menace out there. With his anger and immaturity issues, he'd be a real danger to himself and others. But things are changing a little, I think. We'll see....I'll blog about that in a bit.

Mike -- ROFL!!! Sounds like a good plan to me....

Walker -- No kidding, about keeping DQ away from my daughter! And I second that idea of locking them away. Oh how I wish....!