Thursday, July 16, 2015

Proverbs 26:11

"As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness."  

I must say, I love that we have lives filled with hope.  Without hope, we truly would be desperate. We would be a sad pathetic bunch of people that scurry throughout our days and for what?  At a basic level, we can hope for all sorts of things. We hope that the sun will come out after a particularly long cold rain.  We hope that our favorite sports team will win the championship game.  We hope that mom is not serving liver and onions for dinner.  We hope that our sick family member will feel better soon.  

As parents, I would venture to say that as we hope, we also pray as it pertains to our children.  We pray with hope that they will make wise decisions when they are not in our company.  We hope that they will take hold of the opportunities in life that they have before them, while we pray that they have the wisdom to see them as such.  We pray for their futures with hope of success for each at the level they can achieve.    

  1. 1.
    a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
    "he looked through her belongings in the hope of coming across some information"

So knowing what the Bible says about the fool repeating his foolishness, in the manner of a dog returning to its own vomit, I still had hope for Grumpy.  Hope that in the midst of this thing called life, that he was growing and maturing and learning appropriate skills needed to be successful in life. ( Come on already, in less than two years the state will consider him an official adult.)   However, it has become clear that my idea of his success was mired by an excessive amount of hope.  

So here is the back story:  Grumpy has been working a part time job for about 3 months, and he has been moderately successful  (while he doesn't have the  best attitude about going to the job) he manags to be prepared for work, dressed appropriately (except the one day he wanted to go in his pj's because "no one else wears their uniform") being on time and according to his boss, he is doing a fine job.   While all he talks about are all the free lemons and pickles he can eat, and the free meal he gets after each shift, it seems that this position is a good fit for him currently.  When he grumbles about how much he dislikes being a dishwasher, we share with him the multitude of reasons why he must continue to work hard at bettering himself, increasing his academics, be considering a trade school or college, all so that he doesn't have to be a dishwasher for his entire life. Not that a good dishwasher is not a needed and necessary part of any restaurant, as we tell him, if this is what God has called him to, then he needs to be the best dishwasher there ever has been.
Now because there is a host of generational and emotional issues going on in Grumpy's life, he has a history of highs and lows.  When he is in a high, he is easy going, helpful, respectful and falls into the parameters of what a "normal healthy" 16 and half year old male should be.  Enjoys being active, playing sports and is motivated easily to do the right thing.
In a low however the mood is drastically different.  Most often in lows he is controlled by an unrealistic reality that he has created in his mind, and when living in that reality he is quick to anger or to be pushed to extreme foolishness or out bursts when he is held accountable to the "real" world in which he lives. In this reality (or escape from it) he believes that he is the sports figure on the x-box game he is playing, that the shows he is watching are normal portrayals of real life. (shows like COPS or Locked Up of Zoey 101.) In these times of lows he will be irrational if asked to do a simple task reasoning that he should not have to do his laundry because, "LeBrone James doesn't have to do his laundry, he has people for that."  It is a hard line for him to be able to distinguish fact from fiction and he is often confused when watching movies etc about the real people and the roles that they are playing, as he often considers that the role is a portrayal of their real life.

Additionally, because he has no true friends, only what we as the adults in his life would consider acquaintances, he is emotionally lazy, and lonely.  The adage, to have friends, one must be a friend is a concept that is beyond the scope of what he is able to comprehend on a good day.   When he has someone over to the house, he cares for himself first and thinks of their needs as secondary. He will get a huge glass of water for himself and then almost as an aside, offer to the friend. He will with no announcement or explanation, walk away from a basketball game in the driveway for a wardrobe change, or a wardrobe enhancement, a snack, or to grab his music while said visitor stands wondering where Grumpy went, what they should do; follow or stay behind... social conventions are lost on the boy.

Okay I know, I sure am taking the long way around this to get to the meat of the story right?
So with much prayer, and a healthy dose of hope that Grumpy was starting to "get it", we entered into a two week conversation and consideration of allowing Grumpy the privilege of a cell phone.  Now I do not mean, we as in the Prince and I would pay for it, put him on our plan, and just let him run with unlimited usage.  As with all the other dwarfs in the kingdom, the first phone you have is a trac phone, that you are either gifted (holiday or birthday) or you purchase yourself, and then as the owner of the phone you are responsible for the purchase of the minutes, tracking the time and making sure that you are able to keep up the contract without voids in the service, hence showing yourself to be responsible for paying for a contracted service.  Additionally your phone, while you are the owner, is subject to frequent checks as we as the parentals determine if you are socially responsible enough to make good choices with said electronic device.

Now any of you that know Grumpy's past know that he is not a fan of accountability.  And when he wants something, he pretty much finds any crack or breach in the contract that will grant him access to what he wants.  He has in the past had opportunities with ipods and computers to use them with stringent parameters only to access other peoples electronics to look at and access questionable sites and engage in risky behaviors that could/would/should be considered cyber stalking and or bullying.  He has also gone as far as to purchase stolen electronics, only after a failed attempt to steal a phone for said selfish purposes.  Again, with much much conversation through out all these trials, and with many follow up conversations, removal of privileges and gains in other areas of his life, the Prince and I entered into this world of cell phone ownership with trepidation, and as I stated before a large dose of hope.

We even went as far as to write up a contract with him, to ensure that he would only add females to his phone that were his sisters, or myself.  That there would be no access to Facebook, twitter, or Instagram.  No usage of the phone while upstairs in the house, in his bedroom or in the bathroom.  No usage of the phone prior to noon during the week except in the am to check his text messages, as we have a no electronics or television until noon rule in affect in the summer.

So Tuesday July 7th, the Prince and Grumpy go to the Walmart to make their purchase.  He comes home and is super excited.  The novelty of a phone that is his very own, not stolen, not purchased without parents knowledge is a freeing experience for Grumpy.  He is able to use it out in the open, share videos with his siblings, text his friends and set up his devise with wallpapers, and notification sounds, all things that were the desires of his heart.  Life is good for about 3 days, and as I am the monitor of all things electronic, I start noticing a few little issues on the phone.  Calls to numbers that are not in his contact base, which I am assuming are girls numbers.  I just went through and deleted the numbers and the history of these from the phone.  His google searches were fine, there were a few items I questioned him on, however for the most part I was still filled with the hope that with gentle reminders, the consistent accountability of monitoring the devise that we would be able to make this work.  For the record,  I really did want this to work for Grumpy!   I wanted in my heart for him to have the things he desired, and to be able to use them appropriately and to enjoy the blessing of technology and all it has to offer.

I began to notice a shift in his disposition about four days ago, and I started to watch him even more carefully with the phone.  He was drawn to it like an addict.  When it was on the charger in my room, he would sneak in to it and begin using it. When he disappeared after work on Sunday to "go for a walk and listen to music" without seeking permission and then being bent that we would not trust him to do that, (that which he has NEVER done before) go off alone... my suspicions that I was missing something became stronger.    I again accessed the phone records, this time to see threads of text messages interrupted and prior conversations that were on record having been deleted.

So yesterday afternoon, I logged on to his gmail account only to find out that in a little more than a week's time he was able to have 161,000+ google circle chats and was following over 569 people/places or things on google.   Now I will admit, this circle thing is foreign to me.  It is confusing.  But after about two hours of noodling and wading through it (with my hope fading fast) I was able to determine the following about Grumpy and his ability to make wise choices.

1) my hope was overly enthusiastic.
2) and as with a dog that always returns to its own vomit, Grumpy was unable to step away from the lure and sin of electronics and the alternative reality it creates, to enjoy the blessing of the technology afforded to him.

It is a very sad commentary on his life. In his mind all these greats and not so greats were his friends.  They were doing what he longed for, communicating with him, and he did not have to make any effort in the "relationship" aside from moving his fingers to tap out a message on a screen.   The synopsis of the types of circles that he had pushed his way into were either stars and professional athletes of whom were in his homeboy or family circle, or beautiful half dressed women in his love circle.    When initially confronted about this extreme increase in his number of following circles, we did not know the number of chats, nor could I find the content of the chats so he was able to do a little back peddling with the Prince, and explain his way out of the mess by claiming ignorance of how it all worked.  I believe the Prince also shared my hope that we could still get Grumpy to understand if we explained it well enough, or discussed the risks of this type of behavior.

Another 30 minutes of my time, and he was no longer able to dance out of any of the circle's as I found out how to read his comments and threads of comments.  Shocking for him, as initially he tried to claim that he did not say or make those comments on these circles.  The best I can figure is that he started following on a whim.  Waited for me to censor his actions and when I did not he built up his courage to begin chatting with these people from France, United Kingdom, the Netherlands...  so I began doing what any good mom would do.  I started deleting these contacts.  100's of them.  Because somewhere I still had the hope that if I "fixed" this, then we could start again.

While I am exterminating his friend circles, I notice that curiously those that it would be appropriate for him to interact with, he did not.  Not one note to a sibling or a friend from school or church.  Yet as I am listening to him and the Prince talk about this breach, he did not understand that all those people could also see his circles of strangers and his inappropriate communications with them.   As the Prince is sitting and talking to Grumpy about how this behavior is like that of an addict, and that it makes him seem desperate and makes him vulnerable, I begin to find chats where he was giving out his phone number, asking repeated times for people to chat with him, to call him, did they like him, because he thinks they are hot.... oh the list of social improprieties was vast!  Yet as I got to the deletion of about 246 of these so called "friends", a strange phenomenon began to occur.   These strangers, from other countries, began re adding him to their circles.  The world is full of Grumpys.  Socially unstable, unrealistic in their views of friends and relationships, that once their following drops by just 1 friend, they are seeking them out to restore the "relationship".

That was the straw that broke my hope.  I deleted the whole dang google account.  The prince took the phone.  For how long I can't say.  I do not care that this may be a very expensive lesson for him to learn, I in my heart I now believe that it will not make a dent in his deluded reality.  As with the fool who returns to his foolish ways, Grumpy is wired in a way that the line between fantasy and reality is so slim, that in no time they blur.  As I listened to him talk to the Prince, he could not understand for the life of him the magnitude of over 161,000 chats in 8 days.  That is an average of 20,000 chats a day... granted we are not talking about inspired literary responses, some were just a "k" or "lol" but none the less his fingers should be cramped for weeks based upon the sheer volume of chats.

I find that in the midst of parenting these special dwarfs, I need to remember that none of this is a surprise to God.  He has Grumpy right where he wants him.  I can only imagine the mess that he would be had he not spent the last 9 years with people that only seek to help him be successful.  Will the Prince and I ever see the benefits of the years spent in consistent parenting?  Probably not.  However none of this is about me.  This is his story, one that I have to trust to the Lord in the details of, as he loves Grumpy far more than I can even imagine.

Again, there is a hope each day, that for him success is in his reach, and today may be the day that he reaches for it, captures it and calls it his own.  He just will not be able to text anyone about his greatness or post it on social media!

You Can't Make this Stuff Up!


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