Archives for posts with tag: Child

My friend’s 13-year-old troubled child is here at the house.

To tell you the truth…I don’t find him very troubling.  Why?  Because I was just like him when I was his age.

Difficult, intransigent, argumentative, addict manque.

Though our home situations are very different I began feeling a deep regret for how I had treated my mother and brothers.  Without doubt the genesis of my anger toward them had some basis.

Seeing him treat his parents so appallingly, confound them, fight them…distresses me and everyone who witnesses it.  He demands money with menace, internet privileges and rides to see other equally troubled, weed smoking teens.

It has been a particularly hard week for my friends.  Interrupting a drug deal he was making with a pair of 16 year olds in a car, a deal funded by money he had stolen from his mother, he attacked his Cambridge educated father and literally ripped the shirt off his back.

Until that moment his father had been his great ally and protector.  Until he saw what the rest of us had seen for some time…that there was nothing his own child wouldn’t do to get what he wanted.

The violence toward his parents is shocking to witness but he tends to behave properly when I am around because, rightly, he is scared of me.  I refuse to co-sign his bullshit.  I am bigger and potentially twice as violent and, of course, he knows that I will not acquiesce.

He steals anything he can lay his hands on and lies about it.

The last time I was at the house he stole $20 from me.  I just demanded it back and he handed it over.  When caught he tends to walk into a weird cloud of denial.  Glazed, fearful.

After he attacked his father the police came and cuffed him.  They wanted to take him to juvenile hall but his parents balked at the last moment.

It is only a matter of time before he ends up in very serious trouble.

I was sent to boarding school so my parents could live a normal life.  It suited me to be away from the house.  It suited them to get on with their normal, family life.

The problem seems to be that this kid has no passion for anything other than money.  He isn’t, as I was, sketching imaginary couture collections, writing plays or poring over houses I would one day build.

His stated aim: the acquisition of money.  He will do anything he can to get hold of it.  He doesn’t have anything particular he wants to spend it on.  He just craves hard cash.

Ultimately he will leave home and make his own mistakes…in his own time, on his own dime…but for now he tortures his parents and sisters with tantrums, violence and vile words.

When things get really bad at the house his desperate mother calls me and I sleep over.

Calm is restored.  Last night we made tea and dipped strawberries in chocolate.

I know, of course, how things will end up for him: jails, institutions and death.

It is the way of the addict.  We are all similarly destined until we take those imperative steps toward sanity and abstinence.

After dinner a few nights ago I had a moment of crippling paranoia.

Perhaps I should not have eaten so much cheese at the Mercantile?   My grandmother Margie who died last year often warned me that too much cheese before bedtime causes nightmares.

My chest tightened.  My heart beat faster.  My mouth dried.  I tried to sleep.  I could not sleep.  I could no longer employ any one of the very many coping skills I had learned during the past 13 years when the panic comes.  I lay down in fear.  I woke at dawn with the dawn chorus.  Not birds in the palm trees outside my window but to a miserable conference of those self hating voices that used to wake me every day of my life.  These episodes are so rare nowadays that when they come upon me I get very scared..terrified.

These are the lies I tell myself:

“Being in love tends to make one feel vulnerable and foolish…and, as we all know, there’s no fool like an old fool.”

“I know that I am loved.  I believe it.  I know that I can love.  But, when more is required-what then?   You got to give the man hope.”

I suddenly felt, I suddenly knew, I was being lied to.   I was convinced.

I said, “I became aware.  More was revealed.  You can’t con a conman.”

I felt violently sick, I began to dry heave: I said out loud, “My desire for authenticity isn’t being honored.”

The voice I heard was a child’s voice.  He said,

“I understand that it takes a very long time to acquaint yourself with the truth; when a lie comes so easily to your lips.  When a lie is easier than the truth, when deception is in your nature then rigorous honesty is something to be feared.”

I said, “But I had had to train myself to be honest.”

When I tried to defend myself the child impersonated my very own voice.

“I am sick of making excuses.  I am sick of trying to see it from the other side when my side of things is simply ignored.  I am tired of supporting and encouraging and making excuses when it turns out-I am the object of deception and not affection.”

I said, “When the other changes before your very eyes?”

The child laughed out loud and wanted to know who exactly I was kidding.

“I don’t take drugs, I don’t drink, I try and tell the truth, I don’t act out sexually…therefore I never have a day off from myself.    I am always here, present, in my own body.  I never have an excuse for bad behavior.   Ever.”

I could hear other children, laughing..at me.

“When you drink and you take drugs and you look at pornography you are taking time off from yourself.  I would love to do that-take time off from myself.”

By being present 24 hours of every day for nearly 13 years I thought that I had evolved.

Remember that stuff I wrote about self-love?   That the choices I made had to reflect the respect I had for myself?

The first gay men I ever saw in film were Farnsworth and his boy friend being thrown out of their high rise apartment windows, begging for their lives, by the FBI in The Man who Fell to earth.  I must have been 13 years old.  I watched it with Linda my house mother from school,  Canterbury.  She vomited on me after seeing the film.

That’s what’s going on.

So, what’s it all about?

Can one of you please explain to me why American’s hate Natalie Denise Suleman- more commonly known as Octomum-so violently?

I don’t get it.  Does her fecund nature offend you?  Her fetal abundance?  Of course, her ability to produce that many children in so many cultures in other times would be applauded.  Here, however, helpful ‘Christian’ women threaten her that if she refuses to do things their way she risks having her children removed from her.  Ripped from her breast like so many Inuit children were in the middle part of the last century.

I can think of far worse circumstances where children are allowed to fester unaided.

There is a meanness of spirit, a petty mindedness and an unfathomable desire to remove from this woman something that obviously makes her very happy.

There are many myths that surround Octomum, the worst being that she remains on welfare.  This, from what I can gather, is no longer true but even if it was..What of it?

My friends say that she is selfish and selfish seems to be the word that is most often leveled at Natalie.  Yet, isn’t having a child always selfish-and also extraordinarily selfless?  The issues seems to be, for many, money and responsibility.  Natalie is also, they say, irresponsible.

Well if only we could take children away from their mothers based on irresponsibility and selfishness-there would be millions of orphans.  Millions and millions.

While other women are waiting for the perfect moment in their career and financial security to have a child they often miss the boat.   Natalie just didn’t seem to give a damn.  She was going to have those babies and nothing was going to stop her.  Even though, it turns out,  she did not expect even 50% of the embryos to take.

Sadly, many modern couples are faced with an inability to naturally produce children.  Either they have waited too long placing their career above starting a family or they simply can’t get pregnant.   In about 15% of cases an infertility investigation will show no abnormalities.

“It’s becoming more and more important, in terms of what studies we do, to focus our efforts on the physiological effects of stress and how they may play a role in conception,” says Margareta D. Pisarska, MD, co-director of Center for Reproductive Medicine at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and editor-in-chief of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine News.

There must be a certain jealousy surrounding Octomum, her effortless ability to not only produce but also to singlehandedly raise and provide for so many children causes consternation amongst married couples that find it almost impossible to raise even one child.

My initial disgust, since rationalized, was for the doctor who implanted so many embryos inside Natalie or that the science for helping the desperate, infertile couple had somehow been skewed to provide one woman a meal ticket, publicity and children for all the wrong reasons.

Now, whenever I am forced to think about Octomum, I think about her growing tribe of children who will, undoubtedly, learn to love and support each other in such a way as only a large family can.  I am envious that I did not grow up with my 11 brothers and sisters, as Natalie’s children will.  My gentle envy, unlike the rampant jealous hatred of her many detractors, does not make me want to break open her life and steal what is hers.  Regardless of how I might have felt then I now wish her all the best.

“Jealousy is always born with love; it does not always die with it.”

Rouchefoucauld