Some days, really, all I want to do is bang my head on the wall. Would anyone notice I wonder if I sat in the corner and just moved back and forth in the same monotonous motion, banging my head on the wall?
When dealing with teenagers, I know that each of us has felt as if the bulk of the parenting that we accomplish is nothing new and earth shattering, but just the same repeated phrases and motions, as if we literally are banging our heads against the wall.
Recently, like last night, we had this situation with Grumpy. Now you see Grumpy for all of his wonderful traits... has recently began a slide into a world based not on reality, but completely on the false lies and stories that he tells on line to his Instagram friends, his snap chat buddies and his texting comrades via his cell phone. At first the changes are not so noticeable. We can chalk it up to "typical" (although there is nothing typical about him) teenage boy behaviors. But as the web he weaves becomes more tangled, it is more and more difficult for him to sustain the lies, which causes extreme obsession with the electronic devise, overt hostility towards having to do anything that does not involve the devise, and an unwillingness to see the strangle hold that the devise and it's apps have on his behaviors and attitudes. I mean really, a dwarf who has lost a "homie" in a drive by, probably doesn't have to do sweeps at the end of the day, or water the dog. A dwarf that has been in prison probably is not having to do dish once a week for a family of 8, and certainly a dwarf that sells drugs and makes some "fat stacks", could pay a sibling to handle his light work around the house....
So, after weeks of the slide, and a random phone check that happened because the Prince got mad that he would not get out of bed one morning, and a mom that is not so tech savvy but knows way more than Grumpy wishes she did, here we are, confrontation.
The confrontation, um, I mean conversation, starts out with the Prince laying some ground rules for Grumpy and his cell phone. New rule #1, the devise must be docked at night. In our room. No exceptions. New Rule #2, the devise must be docked once Grumpy arrives home from school until he completes all his chores, school work and other assorted tasks that he is privileged to participate in, as a member of this fine kingdom.
Well it seems that this conversation was not received in the manner in which it was intended. Our intention is and will always be to come along side a socially short sighted, concrete thinker, to provide additional safety for him while providing him and opportunity to build trust and show his maturity, through use of the tool that he insists on having, a cell phone. To teach him appropriate behaviors, acceptable ways to interact with people, and for explaining the often missed yet very obvious (only to us) innuendos and intentional slams that others message and text to him. Yet, shockingly, Grumpy thinks this an affront to his privacy. Of which we remind him that as a minor in our home he really has no right to privacy if in that he is causing himself or others harm. Additionally, because he bought the phone and pays for the minutes on the phone, he thinks it is INSANE that we have any rights to, or should expect him, to hand it over for random checks or docking. Funny that without access to the electric that we pay for, his phone would cease to work. Just like that it would be a paperweight.
After far more conversation than the situation warranted, (insert me mentally banging my head into the wall as ONCE again we repeat the same things to him) an amazingly calm Prince agrees that Grumpy should look for an alternative living arrangement. The rules would be as follows, he can leave freely, we will not call the police and report him as a run-a-way, if we are able to first talk to the parents of the "friend" he would be living with for the next three years. Because if he is leaving, he is leaving for good. He can become emancipated even if just leaving is not enough for him. All the while Grumpy is running his mouth about all his home boyz that will let him crash with them. The Prince indicated that Grumpy should call his "homie"now, get his parent on the phone, so we can authorize his departure, and obtain his address so we would send Grumpy in a cab, right then and there to live with him. Wipe our hands of him. Be done so that he can get on with his life without rules and us with ours.
"Fine!, I'll do it right now!", Grumpy states. Oh, but wait, he can't call because he does not have his number, he can only message him. The Prince encourages him to do so right then, which Grumpy does. Keep in mind this is his "go to guy", his I know I can hang with him, we have discussed it before, ace in the hole, relief from his miserable home life, guy! The text response is, "Sorry man, we are full here." At which point the Prince takes the phone and starts texting his "go to guy", with the a message that indicates Grumpy needs a place to stay for the next three years. "Like I need a place to live, not just crash for a night or two." His "go to guy's" response... Priceless... "You need a motel."
Even in all this, Grumpy is struggling to see that this person is not a friend, is not anything but a person that he passes by and most likely just tolerates him, is being nice to him, because he feels in some way bad for him in his social awkwardness. Again, I feel my head banging on the wall as we have had so many many conversations about this acquaintances VS friends situation. Grumpy will latch on to an acquaintance and call them a friend because to have and maintain friendships takes a host of skills he is not willing to use or work at. Skills like being real, being honest. putting others before yourself. I would guess that the most of the people that he calls friends would be shocked and would have to think hard about who Grumpy is. This is the sad reality of a dwarf with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Even sadder is that they desire to live in this alternative reality, where they think that they can control and manipulate situations to suit them. Not realizing that they are straining real relationships to the brink, they are risking losing all that is real in their lives and that they are turning into a train wreck attempting to juggle the lies and the deception that they spin to so many. Can you imagine how much energy he has to spend trying to remember which stories he tells to which person. Was this the person I told I was a high school football star, or the one I told I was not a snitch and I was looking to make some quick cash?
At the end of the day the issue with Grumpy is that he refuses at all costs to fall under authority. He has convinced himself that there are people in the world that live without rules, or accountability and they can do and say and behave how they want. Why? Because this lie is easier than the truth; which is, life is hard. Life takes effort. Sometime life is a hard lesson teacher. In all things we have to fall under authority. The authority of the Lord, as believers. The authority of the law in our government. The authority of our boss's at our jobs (yes even the crappy ones). The authority of our spouses or significant others in relationships. The authority of the communities in which we live.
So yes, last night Grumpy was going to leave home forever, because his parents want to be able to access his phone, and have the log in information for his accounts. This was the hill he was willing to die on. He was willing to leave with $60 in his pocket and a pay as you go cell phone, with only the items that fit in a suitcase, with no job into the big bad world, because he can't stand the thought of falling under authority. "Grumpy, why did you leave home? were you abused? Did they not feed you? Did you have to sleep on the floor in the garage?" " No, "I left home because my mom follows me on Instagram, and she knows all my passwords to my cell phone and accounts." And this was a valid, compelling and logical reason to him for leaving home and never returning.
Prayerfully his good night's rest, (without the distraction of his cell phone) with some time to consider the folly of his thoughts, brings a new understanding to his mind regarding the easy road he is currently on. Only time will tell. What I do know is that if you need me I will be in the corner...
My Mom Followed Me on Instagram and I was Embarrassed, the Main Reason I left Home at Sixteen: a memoir of Grumpy ... Really some days I wish I could make this stuff up.