Feeling the Love

I took Quincy to the Amtrak station on Thursday morning. She would take one train to Chicago and then another to Minneapolis/St. Paul so that she could spend the holiday weekend with the boy. Awesome.

Except. Train #1 arrived in Chicago 57 minutes late. And Train #2 left Chicago 3 minutes early (!). Which left Quincy stranded in Chicago. No more trains on Thursday. The one bus going that direction was already full. And she’s too young to rent a car. Oy.

Long story short, Quincy had a long and stressful day. But, praise be to God, she also had a day to experience how much people love her.

Jason jumped in his car and headed to Chicago immediately, while I searched the internet and made phone calls (we were thinking we would have another solution soon, and Jason could turn around and come home). Tom jumped in his car and headed that direction too. Tom’s sister texted Quincy, requesting ticket information, so that Tom’s dad could call Amtrak and raised some Cain. After he got off the phone with Amtrak, he called Quincy and (after teasing her a bit) encouraged her to go to a ticket counter and get a partial refund on her ticket (which she successfully did). Tom’s mom texted Quincy a picture of a gallon of chocolate milk and told her it would be waiting for her when she arrived. Josiah fretted and worried and texted me while he worked a double-shift at Panda all day. Hayden bravely manned the littles while I spent the majority of the day on the phone. Feff stomped around and threatened to call the “mean lady” (a rude ticket agent) who yelled at Quincy in Chicago . Feffer didn’t know what to do, but when he heard that Quincy had called crying, he was pretty sure she was sobbing because she was already missing us:)

So. Much. Love.

So. Jason picked her up in Chicago and drove her west, while Tom drove east. They made the switch, and Jason got home about 1:00 this morning. Quincy and Tom got to Tom’s house about 3:30 this morning.

She’s supposed to return (via Amtrak) in a few days. Let’s all pray for a little less “love,” shall we?

As the Dust Settles

So. Dillon has been gone 96 hours. But who’s counting? The change around here is a-ma-zing.

On the one hand, now that every scrap of energy isn’t being spent on him, the things we’ve been neglecting are becoming apparent. First and foremost, my self-care has been non-existent for months. The inner demons of despair and dismay are threatening right now. Second, our marriage relationship has taken a beating, so that’s a top priority too. Third, the other children need more from us than we’ve been giving, so that’s the next priority. And, finally, the church needs our attention. We had been inordinately nervous about telling the congregation about Dillon, but so far, so good. Now, it’s time to get to work (and actually concentrate on that work); VBS is just around the corner.

On the other hand, things are so much easier around here. We no longer wake every morning to the impossible task of containing the poison that was Dillon (especially difficult in the three weeks after we made the decision to send him and before he actually went). No more keeping him busy. No more shielding the littles from his bullying. No more shielding the bigs from his bullying. No more fighting my own reaction to his ridiculous disrespect.

Saturday morning, we had the first relaxed morning in ages. We’re all sleeping better, the littles can actually play together, Feff’s “nightmares” have ceased, and the house is ironically cleaner (“ironic” because Dillon did a lot of chores around here…since he couldn’t/wouldn’t interact positively with anyone…but…it turns out…he wasn’t doing them very well…as things are reassigned, everything looks nicer).

We pray for Dillon every day (as we have for over fourteen years), but we have yet to talk to him. We are able to call him on Sundays, and while we didn’t do it this past Sunday (as previously agreed), we plan to do it every week from here on out. He will be home on school holidays, the first of which is Labor Day weekend.  We are supposed to start family counseling (over the phone) sometime in the near future. We are trying to find a sense of hope about his future.

In the meantime, we are resting (physically and emotionally) and tending to things that we have been neglecting. We are trying to get lots of sleep, lots of time outside, and lots of time in the Word. We are cleaning house, rearranging bedrooms, and reorganizing a bit. We are taking time alone, time one-on-one, and time in smaller groups in order to heal/rebuild relationships. We are concentrating on church and the work there, as well as starting to look around for a part-time job for me. We are working through the fact that this has actually happened (when will we stop being surprised at life’s curve balls?) and trusting that God can and will bring good out of a seemingly impossible situation.

So. That’s where we are. Now, on to Hour #97.

Hostile

“Are you having second thoughts?” my sister asked me during a recent phone conversation.

“No. Why?”

“I love you, sis, but you sound hostile.”

Hmmm. Well, to tell you the truth, I feel a little hostile. Today…about thirty minutes ago, to be exact…Jason and Dillon left the house. In about two hours, they will arrive in Carmi, Illinois, where Jason will check Dillon into a children’s home there. He will be there for at least a year. While we can talk to him once a week, we won’t see him again until Labor Day weekend. I know. Shocking, right?

Do you want to know why he’s in a children’s home? First, let me tell you the wrong answers to that question. It’s not because we didn’t try. Good heavens. We have been pouring our whole lives into that kid for the past year and a half. It’s not because he’s depressed and/or bi-polar…at least that’s not the opinion of the professionals that we have seen. It’s not because we panicked when we found out he had committed a crime and was facing felony charges. No, we were calm about that. It’s not because we beat him (a story he has told the neighbors and his boy scout leader). We are tempted to beat him on a regular basis, but we don’t do it. It’s not because we don’t want him or love him anymore. We do love him. Good heavens, we love him.

No, the reason Dillon is in a children’s home is because that’s what he wanted to have happen. He told us a year and a half ago that he would rather live with anyone else in the whole wide world, and he hasn’t changed his position on that. Despite our efforts to help him find happiness, he has steadily and relentlessly pursued a campaign of hatred. The loathing he has for me cannot even be described. It’s not the “I hate you!” bursts that are common for some teens; it’s a never-stopping-never-giving-up offensive. It oozes out of every interaction the two of us have, regardless of anything I do. His hatred for me now spills over onto his friends, his siblings, and his father. He dropped out of confirmation class two weeks before the big day; he complains about wanting friends but refuses our efforts to help him make friends (swim team, etc.); when he’s angry, he runs out of the house screaming that he doesn’t want to get “beat up” again (complete hogwash, but the neighbors are sold). When the Boy Scout leader met Jason at the car to warn us that he is, in fact, a mandatory reporter (as are we, ironically), we realized how far Dillon was/is willing to go to get out of our house.

And why? Why does he hate us so much? Honestly, we have no idea. We live like most people we know…we eat meals together, we go on family outings, we clean the house together, we watch movies/read books/play games in the evenings. Although we’re too busy and lazy to do it often, we get together with family friends from time to time. The other kids have friends that they hang out with. We are religious (pun intended) about attending church and church functions; those people are our family of faith. Although we occasionally raise our voices, we do not beat our children; nor do we saddle them with slavish amounts of chores (another accusation). We give and expect respect, we apologize and accept apologies, we work together to live in peace and harmony. At least, the rest of us do.

At the placement interview at the children’s home, the director and house parents were amazed that we were still married. They said they never see that. They asked Dillon if he had been fishing or swimming, if he had ever gone to the zoo or an amusement park, if he liked sports…many of the kids who come to them have never experienced any of those things. Victims of poverty and neglect/abuse, they have lived on the fringes of life. Our son, on the other hand, has experienced all of that (and more). They asked me why we were placing Dillon there. I answered that his relentless hatred of me had just become unbearable. They asked him if he had any response to that, and he shrugged and said no, that was pretty much true. (Does this sound like a child who is terrified of me…which is what he claims? After all, we had a two-hour car ride home after this…after he sat at a table and told people that he hated me…oy.)

So. Dillon is gone…at least temporarily. And we’re hostile and embarrassed and sad and relieved…all at the same time. But, at least there’s a little space to heal and rest…and figure out how to pay for this home. They are very kind, and they are taking his adoption stipend as payment (which isn’t enough to support him, but it is a big chunk out of our budget). When we explained to Dillon the financial sacrifices that this will mean for the rest of the family, do you want to know his response? He asked if we could buy him a new bike to take with him to the home. Can you guess the answer to that question?

Do I still sound hostile?

The Power of Suggestion (or Disgusting Post #2)

Jason had a big, nasty sore on his leg. It just popped up one day, and it continued to grow and get more and more disgusting every day. Finally, he went to the doctor. Dr. H gave him a diagnosis, some cream, and a bottle of pills. Awesome.

But the  big, nasty sore continued to grow and get more and more disgusting every day. Finally, he went back to the doctor. Dr. H gave him a different diagnosis, some different cream, and two bottles of pills. He also scraped some nastiness off of Jason’s leg and sucked some of Jason’s blood to send to the lab. Awesome.

The new meds worked like a dream, so we had almost forgotten about the lab results. When the nurse called Jason on Monday morning, he wasn’t surprised to hear that everything was fine, that nothing funky had shown up in any of the tests. And then the nurse said off-handedly, “Your bloodwork showed an elevated number for arthritis, though, so if you have any more problems with that, Dr. H can refer you to a rheumatologist, if you want.”

“Arthritis?” Jason asked, a trifle indignantly, “Why did he even check about arthritis? I haven’t had any problems with that.”

“Dr. H has reasons for the things he does,” the nurse replied, a trifle defensively, and then she ended the conversation.

Oy. Guess whose joints have been “aching” for three days now.

At least his leg has healed up.

A Disgusting Post

“What are you doing this weekend?” the doctor asked.

“From what you’re saying, it sounds like we’re pooping this weekend,” I answered.

She nodded, “Exactly. This is not a weekend to go out of town.”

Poor Feff. While we continue to Miralax the poor child every night…and the counselor continues to try to get to the root of his disdain for using the toilet…things have just gone from bad to worse. After getting x-ray confirmation today, the doctor decided to quadruple his Miralax dose…and bring in the big guns: enemas.

So we picked up a couple at Walmart. And we let them sit on the counter this afternoon, so we could all get used to the idea. And we answered questions. Yes, it’s special medicine. Yes, like the doctor said. No, it doesn’t go in his nose. No, it doesn’t shoot into his mouth. Yes, it probably does taste bad…but…again…it doesn’t go in his mouth. Yes, in his bottom…yes, that’s what I said. No, you can’t watch…because I said so. Yes…so we can get rid of the white poop that’s stuck in his stomach (it looked white on the x-ray). Yes…as promised…if he ever regains control of his bowels…we will finally take you all swimming.

Oy. Five years old is quite possibly the worst age for an enema. A little younger and you could just hold him down and get it done…a little older and you could explain and help him understand. As it was, we did both: we started by explaining, and then we ended by holding him down and getting it done. Then the poor little guy jumped around the bathroom (naked)…screaming in panic at what he could feel was going to happen next…the thing that scares him more than anything in the world right now…a ginormous flood of diarrhea.

During all this, Feffer was kicking his bedroom door, resisting “arrest” after turning a roll of Scotch tape into a lethal weapon because (and I quote), “It isn’t working!” Dillon was walking the dog in the rain, mad as %#&* but refusing to take the umbrella because (and I quote), “Umbrellas are stupid!” Fiffer was trying her best to antagonize Hayden (who had been left downstairs to hold down the fort while Jason and I double-teamed Feff), because Fiffer can’t stand for the attention to not be on her for five minutes. And Hayden took a phone call from a DCFS worker who insisted that she confirm an appointment time with me that very moment. So Hayden opened the bathroom door to ask me that question right as poor Feff realized that he was being violated…and right as Feffer decided he had been in his room longer than he considered humane (30 seconds)…so…even though Hayden gamely tried to cover the phone…I’m sure the worker got an earful. No wonder we’re under investigation:)

Finally, though, in the midst of all this chaos (and…trust me…we had tried to pick a moment without chaos for this fun little project, but things can deteriorate quickly around here), I finally tackled the hysterical, naked child…physically folded him in half and sat his rigid little butt on the toilet…held him down…and let “nature” take its course. Feff went from panic to elation, as he realized that this was actually what we wanted to have happen. He voluntarily sat on the toilet several more times throughout the evening (miracle #1), and he even managed to produce a little more stool (miracle #2). During bathtime, Jason told him that if he could keep pooping tomorrow, maybe we wouldn’t have to do the “special medicine” again; Feff, however, replied that he wanted to have “a big, disgusting diarrhea” again, so we’ll see. The doctor did recommend 1-3 days of this part of the treatment plan, but…oy…we’ll just have to see.

Good times.

Roommate Assignment

Josiah got his roommate assignment yesterday! This is probably the thing he’s been most nervous about (he’s been even more nervous about this than about the fact that he’s taking five-days-a-week Calculus II his first semester), so it was a relief to get a name and be able to get in contact with the young man.

The two of them were messaging a little last night, so Josiah knows more about him than I do. Here’s what I know about him:

E’s mom’s little sister was one of my closest friends in college and she still is today. Also, next door to E and Josiah’s room will live a boy named J. J’s dad’s little sister was one of my closest friends in college and she still is today. Also, E’s mom’s brother married J’s dad’s sister, so E and J actually share some cousins.

I know. It sounds a little Amish. But I love it. I’ve always been so excited that some of my children have chosen to attend my alma mater…but for them to be classmates with my classmates’ kids…pure awesomeness.

Someone Around Here Needs to Win the Lottery

Do you remember that brown-out we had on Tuesday evening?

IMG_4364

Yeah…so do we. Pray that this picture plus a detailed bill from a local heating and air conditioning place will convince our power company to reimburse us for repairs.

Habakkuk 3:17-18. Again. Still. Oy.