Happy Birthday August!

Today is August’s 20th birthday. It is a day filled with so many emotions. I don’t want him to be spending his birthday locked up. But part of me thinks maybe spending a birthday in prison will be the wake up call he needs. Maybe he’ll make the decision that he wants to change and he’ll start focusing on school. Then I remember this isn’t how he’s going to heal. This isn’t how he learns. His damaged brain won’t repair by spending a birthday behind bars.

Every birthday since he became my son and even more so since he was diagnosed with RAD I have wished that I had been there at the moment of his birth. That I had given birth to him. He couldn’t be my son any more if I had but just that little difference; just those few extra years in his life could have spared him so much pain.

His first birthday with us we made such a big deal. He was a huge Scooby Doo fan and my sister and I stayed up so late making a handmade cake which looked wonderful but was so hard to make. We had about 10 little boys at our house in Oregon and thank goodness the weather was nice because I don’t know what we would have done if it was raining which it should have been!

Over the years his birthdays have been different with a variety of themes and kids. Sometimes big crowds, sometimes just a couple of friends. He’s always been really happy on his birthday, even when he was little and couldn’t remember what day it was! Mostly it’s because he likes getting presents. Can’t deny him that!

I sent him an email this morning. We aren’t allowed to send cards and presents. And because I charged him with stealing my car at the moment I can’t even visit him. Another “parent of the year” jewel in my crown. So an email and money on his account to spend on candy. That’s how I spend his birthday.

The reality is I am happy he’s even having this birthday. There have been so many times over the last few years when I didn’t think he’d live this long. His dangerous behavior and scary choices had me constantly expecting the sheriff to come to the door to inform me that he had been killed. So that there even is a birthday is a victory.

He has no cake and no candles to make a wish over and blow out. So I make wishes for him. Probably things he’ll never wish for himself.

  • I wish he finds the smile he had when he was little
  • I wish he learns the value of education
  • I wish he comes to realize how incredible and valuable he is
  • I wish he decides to face his demons and heal from his trauma
  • I wish he learns to build relationships built on trust and respect not manipulation
  • I wish he stays safe
  • I wish he has many more happy, healthy birthdays

Happy birthday my sweet, sweet boy. Mommy loves you so much.

 

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I had planned to write two weeks ago.  I had been thinking about what I wanted to say for a while.

And then Valentine’s Day came and Parkland, Florida happened. And everything I was thinking somehow took a backseat.

I went back and looked at the news reports from this shooting and from Columbine, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas and The First Baptist Church in Texas. Here are just some of the words used to describe the individuals responsible:

  • Violent
  • Disturbed
  • Troubled
  • Threatening
  • Psychopath
  • Crazed lunatic
  • Lone Wolf
  • Genius
  • Quiet

Most of the stories describe them as “mentally ill” with a lot of interest into what kinds of medications they had been taking and how many times they’d been treated for psychological disorders.

I am part of several different groups of mothers and families of children with RAD and there was much talk about whether the boy in this latest shooting had attachment issues or what might have precipitated his choices.

And when these things happen there is always a lot of blame to go around…the gun, the child, the parents, the school, the law enforcement, the government, the mental health system. And I’m not going to get into any of that here.

But here is how it looks from where I sit.

I’m pretty sure, “There, but for the grace of God, go I,” was invented for Moms of RAD kids. Even if you aren’t religious. Because most of the time you fear there is nothing your RAD isn’t capable of. And as details of the lives of the individuals who commit these awful massacres are revealed, you hear stories that sound so eerily familiar. The smart child who just didn’t achieve his potential. The child who had trouble making friends. The child who had a disruptive childhood.

And you can’t help but wonder if your child could be the next one. And the anxiety that you live with every day grows just a little bit more…

Now of course every child with RAD doesn’t become homicidal. And not every person who commits one of these massacres had RAD. But this is the world that families of children with RAD live in.

My heart breaks for the parents and relatives and loved ones of the families of the people who have committed these horrible acts.  Because they have to live with one of two things. Either there were signs all along that they saw and could do nothing about to help those individuals feel whole. Or there weren’t signs and they feel like they didn’t see the pain their loved one was experiencing right in front of them.

When August first started getting into legal trouble in some ways it seemed like the natural progression of his lying and stealing behaviors at home. So it wasn’t so surprising. And initially he was remorseful and frightened. And I thought maybe it would be a good thing in the long run–sort of a scared straight moment.

But then it happened again. And again. And it escalated. And he turned 18. And he got arrested as an adult.  And after a while the court system stops caring about any mental health issues that might be at play. And this last time involved guns. Something I never thought would ever happen. We never even bought toy guns when he was little.

So now I have to hope that the treatment he will receive in prison may reach him. I have to hope there is something in me that can still reach him. I have to hope that continuing to mature and eventually make better choices may kick in as he gets older. I have to hope he gets older.

Till next time. Peace and safety for all our children.

Shannon