Heartbreak Virgin

(This is a reprint of a post I wrote in Spring 2012)

I love Spring!  It is my favorite season!

Birds chirping, trees budding,  flowers blooming,warm days and nights with the windows open.  What is not to love?  Well, if you ask Joe Cool there is NOTHING to love right now.

I recently talked about Joe Cool and the quips he comes up with.  However, right now he has no quips.  He is mopey, and moody and downright droopy.  Why you ask?  How is it possible to be droopy during this fabulous beautiful season?
After all, this is the season of LOVE?  Spring fever, when everyone comes out of their little boxes called houses and starts to enjoy the warm weather.  Humans, animals, everyone gets in on the  emergence.  Bears hibernate in caves, and I think sometimes humans hibernate in our houses during the winter. When the weather gets cold we hunker down and sit tight.  Until Spring, then we come out of our caves blinking our eyes and shedding our layers.

But that is not this story.  This story is about Joe Cool and why he is so mopey. He is mopey because he has recently suffered his first heartbreak.

Yes, my own sweet son is just plain heartbroken.  Sad, mopey, droopy and just plain moody.  In a word, he is just toefog.

He and his girlfriend (I will call her Ginger) of 16 months broke up the weekend after Valentine’s day. Although it was a mutual decision (according to Joe Cool), he still has feelings for Ginger and he just can’t seem to shake them. On a good note, I have raised a kid who is NOT a player and is true blue.  On a downward note, this means he has a hard time letting go.

This is my first time dealing with teenaged heartbreak that isn’t my own. I have two biological children.  Joe Cool who is almost 15 and The Genius who is almost 13.  Lovely Bluebell has two biological children, The Girl, who is almost 20 and The Hunter who is 17.

Neither The Girl, nor The Hunter have had relationships while living with us (The Girl moved out on her own last summer after graduation).  The Hunter is shy and hasn’t had a girlfriend yet.  So we have not yet had to deal with our kids having a broken heart and the angst it brings.

I have tried to be supportive and explain to Joe Cool that yes it sucks, but in time he will feel better.  I have encouraged him to invite friends over to play video games and have promised to feed them pizza and brownies.  I have tried to keep him busy to keep his mind off of his broken heart, all to no avail.  Yesterday when he came home from school he was particularly mopey.  On the drive to guitar lessons I was able to pull out of him what was bothering him.  He is very upset because Ginger apparently is interested in a new dude.  Joe Cool has been “hanging around” her hoping that she will give him the time of day, but apparently she has moved on more quickly than he has…..

I remember being a teenager and all of the drama, angst and difficulty it brought.  I remember having my heart broken.  I remember being in love.  I am one of those adults who believes teens can love each other and be in love.  Granted it may not be a mature love, but I believe it is love nonetheless.  Think about it those of you who are naysayers….your teen knows how to love you, and family members. So they know how to love.  Why can’t they have those same deep feelings for a boyfriend or girlfriend their own age?????

I shared with him the story of my “first love” and how that boy had broken my heart and dumped me for a girl named Jill.  (Those of you who went to school with me get three guesses who I am talking about).  I told him how I had my “revenge” when after I graduated I ran into First Love boy and he wanted to date me again.  I had the karmic joy of telling him, “dream on buddy.”  That felt good.  (He liked that story, he even had a little gleam in his eye.)  His response was, “Yeah, when I am an Aerospace Engineer making the big bucks, she will be sorry.”  I did NOT dissuade him, who am I to steal his dream?????  (Ummmm, if she even remembers you dude, but okaaayy)…..

Using my most encouraging tone I talked to him about “giving Ginger her space”, and “hanging out with his bro’s instead”, and even “give it some time and it will get better.”  He did seem to perk up.  Especially when I pointed out all of Joe’s cool points and reminded him that “karma is a bitch”, and one day he would be on top of the world and Ginger might not.  However, in my Glenda the Good Fairy way, I reminded him that if he truly is Ginger’s friend when she is down he will be there for her in a “friend” sort of way.  He liked that.  I think he liked the part where in his mind he had one up on Ginger, and she received her “comeuppance”, but whatever works…..he is only almost 15.

Cross your fingers this awesome weather and the sheer joy of Spring brings him out of his blues……..  I will let you know how it goes…….

It is hard to be a stepparent of a troubled teen.

So I am having a VERY hard time thinking of something funny to write about. I have wracked my brain. I just can’t come up with anything even remotely funny going on in my life right now. Maybe if I tell you all that is going on you could help me…..

Let’s see, actually, if I do that, it will just depress you all as much as it depresses me. I have come to the conclusion after much drama, that apparently I am a minority. I have done research on the internet looking for people like me. Looking for help, looking for support groups. I have not been successful so far. It is hard to describe. I believe there are thousands of people like me, but I don’t think anyone is willing to admit it. We will be ostracized. We will make people angry. Don’t rock the boat……just suffer in silence to keep the peace……
I kid you not, when I do research looking for my people, I come up empty handed.  I mean come on, seriously people???  Even people looking for their African ancestors will have more databases to peruse than people like me.  So have piqued your curiosity yet?  Are you wondering what in the heck kind of minority I am?  You may be wondering if I am really in such a small group of people?

Ok, so I will tell you…..drumroll please………

I am the Step Parent of a Troubled Teen.  Also known as a SPOTT.  And yes, I did make up that acronym….do you like it???  I have an amazing partner who I love without reservation who is the biological parent to a difficult, troubled teen. We have worked with her, we have taken her to see a therapist, (she was fired by the therapist), we have stopped yelling and started talking.  All to no avail.  And to be totally honest, as the step parent and not the biological parent, I have little or no control over the situation anyway.  As a matter of fact, the websites I did find gave me the following advice:

“Communication and teamwork are essential in a step-parenting situation.”
Yessirree folks,  that is abut all there is to being a good stepparent.  Communication……..right?  They have got to be fucking kidding me….
When you are the step parent of a troubled teen you are pretty much the same as a muchroom sitting in a dark corner.  You have absolutely NO say in what happens.  If your partner is a strong parent and uses tough love and firm parenting, things might get better for you.  However, if your partner is a parent who would rather NOT deal with confrontation and the “messy” stuff, all I can say is boy howdy you better hold on for a rough ride.  I know because I am a partner to a wonderful, amazing, beautiful woman who is a parent of the second kind.  She would rather just NOT deal with anything that is difficult.  In teenage language this really means “it’s okay honey, just do whatever you want”.  Then when there are concerns about drinking and unprotected sex and smoking, it is too late to put the brakes on and try and fix what is broken.  And as the stepparent, I can only hold on, close my eyes tight and whimper in the corner.  Sometimes I click my heels three times and say “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” When I am done, I am still standing in the same fucking spot dealing with the same bullshit I was dealing with before.

WHERE ARE YOU GLENDA?????
So, my real question is……is there anyone else out there who walks my walk?  Anyone who finds themself whimpering in the corner because they are powerless and their house is being run by an unruly, ungrateful, teenager who thinks they can do whatever they want???? And the one adult who should have the power does nothing because it is easier to walk away???  PLEASE for the love of all that is good, there MUST be someone else out there like me??? I don’t mind being a minority, but I don’t want to be the only one………

Just knowing there is one other person like me would help………anyone?????

I am going to go eat something chocolate now……

How We Survived a Boomerang Kid

I have many friends who are close to my age who are currently empty nesters.  They started having children when they were in their 20’s, and are currently in their mid to late 40’s and their children have moved out of the house.  Some are married, some in college, some are working.  I have asked many of them (the mothers usually) if they experienced the “Empty Nest Syndrome”.   Have you heard of that?  It is an Syndrome where parents have feeling of depression, sadness, and loneliness when their children grow up and leave the family home.  They all said , “NO!”, some said , “Hell no!”, and one or two asked me if I was joking.

In other words apparently the Empty Nest Syndrome is NOT alive and well amongst my peers.  At least not in Southeastern Virginia.  When I seemed surprised, after all I had always heard mothers typically experienced Empty Nest Syndrome. my friends were like, “Girl, are you kidding me?  No one to cook for, no dirty bedrooms. No nagging about helping out around the house.  No one asking for money…I could go on and on.”  That was the typical response.  Being able to come and go as they please with no one to worry about seemed like such a relief to them.

My partner Karol and I have 4 kids between us.  We were so excited when the oldest (Katarina) flew out of the next last year.  She graduated high school and moved to Minnesota to live with her aunts.  She took welding classes in high school and was quite excited that she could live with her aunt and work as a welder at the place where her aunt works.  Since Karol’s sister is also a welder, all of the adults thought Minnesota with her Aunt would be a good move for Katarina. So shortly after she graduated high school she flew to Minnesota.  Karol was sad and she did cry some, but she knew there were no jobs here, and Kat had more opportunities in Minnesota.  She also took comfort in the fact that Kat would be with family, so Karol was less worried about her safety.

Kat loved being in Minnesota.  She loved being on her own (with adults who loved her there to assist).  She got the job welding with her aunt, she bought a car, managed her money okay, and was doing well.  So we were absolutely shocked when she announced one day that she was going to move back to Virginia.  We were floored and didn’t know what to think.

Remember that whole, “One down three to go thing?”  Well, we had renovated Kat’s room after she moved out.  We painted it lavender, bought two desks at IKEA and turned her room into our office.  It has a window with a view, and we bought a chaise lounge so we could sit on the chaise and read.  We made a little oasis of peace in our otherwise hectic house.

When Kat told Karol she wanted to move back to Virginia, and come back to our house, Karol explained as gently as she could that we no longer had a space for her.  We didn’t have a room.  Also the last year Kat lived with us (her senior year in high school) had been exceptionally difficult as Kat didn’t want to do as we expected her to, and instead did whatever she wanted to do.  It had not been a pleasant year for Karol or me. But Kat was determined to come back.

I became anxious, and started having stomach aches.  However, what could I do?  Kat was determined to leave Minnesota and come back to Virginia.  She had a car, bills, and no job!  We knew it was a mistake, but we could not convince her of that.  So we braced ourselves for the inevitable.

boomerang kid

Kat assured Karol that she would not be coming back to live with us, she had a friend she was going to move in with and we were relieved.  The situation was not ideal, but at least she would be safe, and her friend said she didn’t have to pay rent until she was “on her feet”.  Even though I should not have been worried at that point, I just had this nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Fast forward a month.  Kat’s friend was asked to leave the residence and Kat needed to come back to our house.  We always knew this was a big possibility.  She didn’t have a decent job and couldn’t afford rent.  We told her she could come back and stay rent free until she got a job and was on her feet.  We now had a Boomerang Kid.  In just a couple of months we went from “One down, three to go.” to “Ermagherd, one came back!!”

We had to establish household rules, and had to adjust them many times.  Our Boomerang child felt as though it was okay to be a consumer of our water, electricity, food, etc, etc and not help out around the house.  Then we gave her ONE chore:  putting the dishes in the dishwasher.  She was pissed, but had no choice. I eventually had to take that job back from her to protect the dishes she threw in there to make her point of being unhappy.

Finally she got a job, but was only working about 25 hours a week, and her hours were in the evening.  So that left her sleeping until noon, then watching tv or Netflix all day.  Sometimes she would just play around on her computer while she sat on her futon that was in my living room. That was fun. And yet we were still waiting for her to “get on her feet.”  We told her many many times (too many t count in fact) that ONE job was not enough to get on her feet and she would need another one.  One she could work at during the day.  But for our Boomerang Kid, looking for another job wasn’t fun.  So she didn’t do it.

So I put her on MY plan to “get on her feet.” That plan is not for the faint of heart, and it requires a fair amount f work by the parent.  For every hour I was working outside the home (including attending my college classes), she had to be working to get another job inside the home .  The PS3 and the Wii were locked up, and a code was placed on the televisions so she could not sit and watch tv all day.  Every morning around 8 am I woke her up so she can get started on her day and be productive.  The hope was that this plan would give her the incentive to get a second job if for no other reason that she would get to have the tv to watch again.

Finally, when we could take it no more, we resorted to the “Since you are working now, we are going to start charging you a small amount of rent every month to help pay for your consumerism.”  That went over like a lead balloon.

The end result was that she met a boy.  She met a boy online.  A boy who lived in Florida.  The boy in Florida told her he loved her (they had met in person ONE time) and wanted her to move down there to be with him. So she decided to go to Florida.  Although we were not happy with her on the futon in our living room being a taker and never a giver, we were VERY uneasy with her moving to Florida to be with a boy she didn’t even know.  But as any of you who have young adults know, what we heard was the “I am over 18 and I can do what I want.” line.

So off she went to her new adventure in Florida, and we were not happy, but were powerless to stop her.  But in our gut it was only a matter of time until we would get that call, and she would be a Boomerang Kid again.