**pretend there is a photo here of a little 5 year old boy and me. I'm hugging him in a booth at Coco's and he's got a big smile on his face. (my scanner isn't
This little boy suddenly went from the cute little freckle-faced blue-eyed boy whom I met at 4 years old, to a 6 foot tall (plus?) young man with a deep voice. It's weird to think I knew him for all that time in between, because it certainly feels like all I did was blink.
This milestone has left me a million times more emotional than I imagined. After all, we just watched his older brother graduate 2 years ago.
But this time it's just... different. Truly bittersweet, and it's left me in tears for a good part of the morning. (Okay, maybe more bitter than sweet.) I guess after the rough couple of years we've had with Jack (you know, as in Cracker) I had hoped that things would be different by now. In fact, it was only last summer that we finally saw him after a long 9-10 month hiatus. I thought maybe things had changed.
And things haven't been bad, they've just been on his terms. Maybe that's been our mistake. But after playing by our rules for years and making him come over when he didn't want to, we saw that our relationship was only becoming more strained and the arrangements weren't benefitting anyone. We wouldn't give him a choice but to come over on our weekends; he would consequently be in a cruddy mood the whole visit. This brought stress on the entire house, I was in a bad mood, and then Mike & Ike got to the point where they weren't even happy when he was over because he wasn't nice to them.
So after a gigantic stream of problems and much prayer, we decided that we would rather see him once in a while on good terms, than every other weekend on sucky ones. And besides, we understood that he is a teenager and wants time with his friends on the weekends. We are a household with two young children that aren't always quiet and want to spend every waking minute with their brothers- it's quite different from their mom's house and was probably overwhelming. Problem was, when you put the ball in the hands of the self-absorbed teenager, you get burned because one way or another, you find out where you rank. We found that we rank somewhere below long-lost distant relative and the dentist. Maybe further down.
So, we now have not seen Cracker Jack for close to 6 months, and we rarely talk to him. Mike & Ike haven't spoken to him at all in that time. And it's not just him. When you factor in a TON of drama that came from the hands of his older brother (I won't make up a nickname because frankly, it wouldn't be nice) last summer, we are raw. But one thing I can say- at least we talk to Cracker Jack once in a while. We almost never talk to his brother (19, in college a whole whopping state away) and haven't seen him since November, when he came
I have a REALLY hard time understanding the self-centeredness of this age. I assume I was probably the same (or not, because my parents wouldn't put up with it) and Big Hunk swears he was, but it just blows me away. And it hurts so bad! Really, I can't blame it all on the age. 17 or not, we are still his parents and are truly truly NOT treated as such. That's why when I texted Jack asking him to pick us up 4 tickets to his graduation tonight from the school office, I was told he was "too busy" and I would need to do it. We would need to drive 40 minutes to his high school to pick up something from the very same location at which he was.
After reading what I've written it sure sounds like we are letting ourselves get walked on and have given Jack all the control. I assure you it is not that way. We have simply distanced ourselves and left the door open. He knows we love him and that we want to see him, but we are not going to pound down his door anymore.
The saddest part is how all of this affects Mikey. Ike really doesn't care much because this is pretty much how it's always been for her. She doesn't remember much of the times when he came over consistently and was part of our family. Besides, she's always been so much younger than him that even when he played with Mikey, she wasn't included much. But Mikey takes it hard. He's come to terms with never seeing them because it's so typical now (though not welcome), but he still has questions. Quite honestly, he has a lot of hurt over it all. He asks once in a while why his brothers never want to see us and why they never call, and I really think once he's older he'll be happy to give them a piece of his mind. ;) I can't say I blame him, nor will I really discourage it either- he's gotten the shaft where his brothers are concerned and I think they need to hear it from him. Not to mention, they need to be held accountable for the choices they've made where their brother and sister are concerned. (As a sidebar because I don't want someone to take what I'm saying wrong- he will of course need to be respectful with it all, but I really think it's important that he tell them how he's felt all this time- when the time is right.)
This morning I was telling Mike not to expect to actually see Jack at the graduation. We'll of course see him from a distance, but not to expect to talk to him afterwards. (I really don't even think Jack cares if we go- or even knows for sure that we are, being he left the tickets up to us and never confirmed that we got them. I do not, however, share these feelings with the kids.) (I like parentheses.) Mikey asked me again why he never gets to see them, and said several times today that it seems like his brother just doesn't care if we even go. *insert tears* But this is where I am so proud of my boy. He really gets such an understanding that surpasses even my teeny tiny brain sometimes-- something totally God-given. He said "If I had different brothers we could have taught them about God and it wouldn't be like this."
Well, we have taught his brothers about Jesus. But, I guess when you're raised around atheists and they tell you how worthless your father is and tries to push him out of your life, this is what you get. I am just proud that Mikey sees how God in their lives