Archive for the ‘Karma is a Female Dog’ Category

“Karma is a Female Dog”

-Lights, camera, asshole! (Chapter 4)-

The following weekend, after more cutting comments to anyone trying to be nice or make him feel comfortable here, I’d had enough.  After all, he was new to this house and we weren’t about to change the plan that had worked well for us.  He could either learn some basic manners, or leave. The thoughts of, “I wasn’t in your life growing up, so obviously blaming or hating on me for the difficulty you have communicating with people is ridiculous.  Sure, there may be some residual negative opinions that can easily be sorted through.  Other than that, the cause of any skewed views, mean thoughts, sardonic behavior, or chip-on-the-shoulder mentality falls squarely in the laps of the two people who raised you.  It’s time to stop blaming everyone in the past for how you shape the future.  Prove them wrong!” were all things I wanted to make clear moving forward.

I asked him to come out on the back porch for a man-to-man chat.  He was unenthusiastic and carried with him a dark attitude that deafened the room.  After shutting the sliding door behind us, I prodded him for a little information.  I wanted to know if he had some sort of plan of attack, or what it was we could do in order to help obtain his goals.  I wanted to know why he felt the need to hide in his room, or if there was anything we could do to work together to make it better.

The replies weren’t even words, just muttering: ‘Idunno’.  Or, ‘nothin’’, while staring at the ground the entire time.  It was obvious he felt it was a mistake to come to Idaho.  But, he had no other place to go at the time… it needed to work.  I was determined to break through and get to know him as ‘son’, love him, and bring him into the love of our established family.  However, he refused to give any opportunity.  Frustrated, I pressed a little harder as to why he couldn’t look at me eye-to-eye or say anything other than “I dunno”.

“C’mon, man.  If you can’t talk to me, then fine.  But you’ve got to be able to talk to someone.  Carrying around so much anger isn’t healthy for anyone…”

His temper suddenly erupted as he motioned towards a chair he was fighting himself to not throw across the lawn (or at me).  Swear words shot out of his mouth like a flamethrower as he began demanding to know why his mom and I split up almost two decades ago.   Rationally, I tried to remain calm, but also told him this is still my house and if he wants to know anything then he should quiet his damn voice and talk to me like the adult he’s supposed to be.  That wasn’t enough.  More swearing and hateful words dripped off his tongue.  Stop beating around the bush, dammit.  Shit, can’t you ever give a straight answer?! I explained that my relationship to his mom was during a time when I had little training on how relationships were supposed to function.  It was complicated.  There was a lot of back story that he had no intention of hearing.  We both did our share of stupid things.  Our relationship was the thing that should’ve never been.  But, with each sentence, I was interrupted by his irrational anger.  Stop being a coward and just tell me why! His accusative tone was like electrical impulses shooting into my eye holes.  I was picturing myself grabbing the table umbrella and going for his jugular for a split second, but kept focused on the end goal; lead by the example of love, patience, and understanding.  If I gave in to that desire to be a dick back to him, nothing would be accomplished.  Instead, I kept my cool and explained that the final straw to our marriage was when his mother had an affair with a friend of mine.   Of course, I continued, there is tons more to the story.  You don’t seem to care anyway.  And he didn’t.  I mean, Jesus, he could hardly remember the details of how he wrote me off a mere five years ago, but I’m required to answer questions, which were ultimately none of his business, about how things happened when he was only a year or so old?  Ptthh, whatever.

He finally calmed down after giving him enough information to chew on.  I assured him that he’d be surprised to find that so much has changed from my teenage years.  No one is the same person they were twenty years ago.  There were numerous life-lessons I had to experience in order to learn for myself how to be a better person.  Coping in a confusing adult world does require a degree of listening to those who have experienced it firsthand.

A few weeks went by.  Things were beginning to relax in the house as he slightly adapted to our formulas how we make this house a home.  It wasn’t without a fair share of trouble though.  After coming home from work each day to find him sitting in his room, on the computer, trying to land chicks (and asking me permission to invite them into his room sometime), it was apparent that we were dealing with a fourteen year old in a nineteen year old body.  I wasn’t about to enable his bad habits to continue.  He’d previously admitted that it was rough adapting to civilian life after the short stint in the armed forces.  Large crowds were intimidating, our friends were intimidating, driving was intimidating… life was indeed a huge intimidation.  I need baby steps.  Please be patient, he’d advise us.  Well, that’s excusable for the first month… but then what?   And again, where were your amazing parents in all of this?  Shouldn’t they have been teaching the skills required to survive without falling apart if someone looks at you wrong?  I mean, golly, I realize there was a rigorous schedule to keep their 2,000+ subscribers happy on those amateur porn web sites they maintained… but, to not have ANY time in between tapings to instill important values on their kids?  That’s just odd…

Not much changed.  In fact, his temper was still a nasty demon waiting in the closet.  A few weeks go by. My wife texts me while I’m at work.  You need to get home… now.  Your son has lost his mind. I raced home and heard the story about how he’d taken it upon himself to leave the house when he knew I wanted to chat with him about his goals to get a job, or go to college.  My wife had asked him to stay until I got there, but he ignited into a fury of insults and threats that she had no authority to hold him in the house.  It got ugly as she feared he’d get abusive if she pushed too far.  By the time I got to the house he was just walking back after leaving to cool down.  Sarah and I had a long talk with him outside.  We explained that we’re not the enemy.  Neither of us have done anything to deserve this.  And, even though I wasn’t there as a father figure for him growing up, I’m here now, trying to make the best of the situation.  Plus, no one is strong-arming him into staying.  So, stay and follow the house rules by doing what you said you were coming here to do, or find another place to live.  He apologized profusely and we all hugged.  We were quickly running out of patience and cheeks to turn.  With seven other children in the house, it’s impossible to focus 100% of your attention on just one… especially when that one is technically an adult.

More weeks passed.  Things were certainly getting better.  There were plans to get his Idaho driver’s license, possibly go to school, or find a job nearby.  We were willing to assist with any rational requests and would even put aside our own issues just to make him feel better.  He was coming out of his shell better than expected.  Sure, there was still a tremendous amount of sitting in front of the computer, but he helped a little around the house so we were able to overlook the minor details.  The bottom line was building the bridge of trust and getting to know each other better.  It finally felt as we were getting somewhere.

…See ya tomorrow…


“Karma is a Female Dog”

-Barbecuing butterflies on butane (Chapter 3)-

January 27th of last year, Sarah’s birthday, we moved into a big house with plenty of rooms to spare (happy birthday, Sarah..!).  It took some time for the kids to adjust to the freedom of having their own spaces.  However, a certain groove was established as we ran forward with the speed of life.  Things were great.  It hasn’t always been smooth, but it has never been dull. We were settling into a natural feeling routine.   The kids…well, they’re 5 kids under 9… keep us on our toes.

And then the inevitable shark fin of Karma broke the surface and started slowly heading towards the shore.  My first son was trying to reach me again.  He was now nineteen, just as I was when first struggling to make life work to my advantage.  Confused, lost, and not sure where to go, he explains to me.  I should’ve come to Idaho to get to know you better instead of joining the military, he tells me over the phone.  I want to change my last name back to yours.  To hell with my mom and step-dad… I want to know my real dad. He sounds very convincing.  Please, I have nowhere else to turn.  They don’t want me back.  Can I please live with you, get to know you, and start a new life there?

Suddenly I feel guilt waking up inside me.  Guilt is the drug dealing cousin of Karma.

Of course you can, I tell him.  You’re more than welcome here. Just from the first few phone chats with him, I realize that he’s a lot like me in some ways, and nothing like me in others.  I’d expected some sense of feeling this way, but nothing as complex as it turned out to be.  I explained that a name change is not something to take lightly.  Plus, it wasn’t something I’d ever expect from anyone… even my own flesh & blood.  I wouldn’t be doing it for you, he’d assure me.  Don’t try to talk me out of it, though.  I’m going to do it regardless. It was this attitude which should have been the red flag for me from the get-go.

Our initial conversations were short and unpredictable.  Sometimes we’d go a month or more without speaking.  His biggest regrets circled between entering the military and not trying to find me sooner.  So, my cynicism softened.  After all, it was my fault things had happened the way they did.  It was starting to look like perhaps I hadn’t waited long enough for Karma to actually pay something back for my dedication to fixing it.  My sentiments towards this mysterious force were suddenly challenged with the news of my son choosing to come to me versus the people who kept him from me.  “Karma’s a bitch!” I whispered to myself.

Was he really at a point where he could break free of the false notions and prejudices?  This could easily help destroy the guilt I’d carried through the years while getting to know my son for the first time as an adult.  It was almost too good to be true.  Sure, it’d be a bit awkward at first, but the satisfaction of having another chance would make any challenges worth going on the journey.  Holidays, concerts, barbeques, football parties, family, siblings reuniting… It had the makings of a Lifetime movie where you’re ugly crying tears of joy by the time the opening credits roll.  If Karma wrote a screenplay… this would be an Oscar winner.

When the day finally came for his flight to bring him to the Boise airport, my pulse was rapid.  I’d never in a million years expected this moment to actually happen.  The few phone calls in the days before he arrived were frantic and hurried.  He was desperate to get out of Texas and start a new chapter.  We were more than willing to provide that fresh start.  When I met him at the terminal gates, it was shocking to realize he towers me by a couple inches.  We exchanged an awkward hug and headed down the escalator.  After a quick stop at Subway, it was time to head to the house to meet his step-mom, and half-siblings.

The first week was distant.  He spent a great deal of this time in a reluctant silence, holed up in his new room, while sitting at the edge of the bed, dinking around on his laptop.  Facebook, MyYearBook, Youtube, Guild Wars, stuff that even I would cringe at while watching… We didn’t want to say much to make him feel more uncomfortable.  It was going to be an adjustment for everyone.  I need baby steps.  Please remember I need baby steps. Clinging to optimism, we assumed it was going to be fine.  The other kids were stoked, albeit also reluctant, to have an older brother.  Acceptance, tolerance, love, respect, and a degree of Karma…  Those are the foundations of what we teach the collective whole of our children.  It was a rule we’d made clear from the beginning:  don’t expect to come here and have everything change just because you’re living here now.  We practice equality and you’re no different than the rest of us (minus the fact that you’re nineteen, yet I can’t send you to a corner if you say vile things to me).

I took some days off work to spend some time with him.  He struggled with talking about anything deep.  That’s ok; I didn’t want to push it.  At this point it was moot point.  There was no reason for him to feel pressured.  However, his occasional spiteful sarcastic comments towards other members of the family, and how Idaho stinks, and how he hates it here already, and incessantly sitting at the computer, were threatening to throw acid at my smile.  The last thing I wanted to be in this experiment was an enabler of a 6’4” child.  Yet, he had a smug air of entitlement.  As if this entire living arrangement was expected of us and the routine we’d worked so hard to establish had to be altered to make him comfortable. This caused my skepticisms to zig-zag.  As bitter as all of this may seem, I’m typically a hell of a nice guy.  This is all about breaching the threshold of limitations for ‘nice’ while trying not to piss vinegar.

“…and the whispering of the wise never entertains the fools.”

…Chapter 4 on morrow’s eve…