A few days after my last post, my husband and I decided to take a family road trip. We told the kids they were going, like it or not. I have found that we have lost a lot of our parental authority over the past few years, and always seem to be compromising with, or simply giving in to our kids, forgetting that they are the kids and we are the parents. Our daughter, of course was happy to go. Our son, was not too happy about being taken away from his access to weed, and there were a number of, shall I say, disagreements about the trip. I remained adamant in my decision that he would join the family, reminding him that at least for the next few months, he is a minor.
I've been reading a book that a friend gave me called "Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy! Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind," and it has been tremendously helpful in my responses to Justin and his outbursts. I've succumbed to the understanding that I cannot control his actions, but I can control how I react to them. The book also helped me to understand that it is not my fault that Justin is making the choices he is. One of the main themes of the book is that teens are temporarily 'insane' for a lack of a better word. In the past, this insanity usually passed without too much difficulty, because the world was a different place. Today's world is saturated with sex, drugs, and violence, and we put our kids in the middle of it and expect them to be okay. We mistakenly believe that our teens can handle the exposure to this crazy world we bring them into, often with drastic results.
Another insight that I gained from the book was that parents have to let go of the past, and stop reliving our child's youth. If you have read a bit into my archives, you will see that this has been an issue with me. I just can't seem to reconcile what he was with what he has become. The author believes that parents need to stop mourning the well behaved child of the past, and deal with the present and work towards the future. He lays out what he calls the ten commandments of parenting. The first commandment is to behave and think dispassionately. I used this commandment in my reaction to Justin's refusal to go on the trip, and you know what, it worked. Typically, I would react to his outbursts and anger with my own outbursts and anger. This time, I remained calm and respectful, no matter what he threw my way. I repeated again and again that he was a minor and he would be joining the family. The angrier he became, the calmer my reaction. Many times, I just walked away. Incredibly, as the day of our departure came, he had his bags packed and was ready to go. I had no idea how he was going to behave on the trip, but away we went.
I'm happy to report, that although there were a few bumps along the way, a good time was had by all. We spent a week with my sister in Toronto, which included a trip to Canada's Wonderland. It was incredible to see my son smile and act like a kid again. We spent a couple of days shopping in downtown Toronto, allowing both of our kids to buy whatever clothes they wanted (I'm still afraid to look at the credit card bill). We listened to Johnny Cash on the 401, all singing along to our favourite Cash song, "A Boy Named Sue." We made memories - good memories, something our family has been lacking for a long time.
In a small cafe on the way home, somewhere between Montreal and Ottawa, my son leaned over to me and said, you know what mom, I think I might stop smoking weed. I've felt pretty good this past week, better than I have felt in a long time. I have been waiting to hear those words for four long years. At this point, I'm cautiously hopeful. We have only been back a few days, and although it does appear that he has remained sober, he also has not really left the house, sticking to watching movies. I have a feeling that he is afraid to go out with his friends, because he is worried that he will fall back into his old habits. He starts school on Tuesday, and that will be the true test as to whether or not he can stay clean. He has another appointment with his drug counselor tomorrow, and I think I will give the counselor a call ahead of time to ask him if he can talk to Justin about peer pressure and give him advice on how not to be so easily influenced by others. It's been so nice to not be fighting for the past couple of weeks. The peace I have been craving for so long has finally arrived. I'm praying that it will not be taken away, plunging us back into darkness.