Tuesday, April 2, 2013

In Between

For awhile, recently, T was mad at me. I turned his phone off, because he was abusing the privilege of having me pay for it. I gave him a week's warning, gave him a clear way to rectify the problem, and when he did not, I shut the phone off, leaving him clear instructions about how to resume service under his own name, should he choose to pay for it. I explained why I was doing it, and that I loved him and what behavior I wanted to see. I felt okay about it, as a decision. But I did miss him, because for awhile, he was mad at me.

He's over it now. I sent him an "Easter basket" of his favorite candy, which I ordered delivery from the local grocery store. He loved it, and photographed it to post on Facebook. He takes pleasure in us knowing him so well. We had a nice talk last night. He's started work, and he's using his first paycheck to get a new phone. (I pay his rent and his groceries, so I feel like that's fair.) He's going to a formal dance later this month and he'd like me to come visit to help him get ready for the dance. He's excited about us picking out his tie, his socks, the corsage for his date.

I thought I'd be kind of lost when he went away to college. I wasn't--I was happy to have time to work late, go to the gym, eat more carefully. But I do miss him, and think about him every day, and he misses us at times too. It's interesting to learn what it means to maintain attachment across distance, for me and for him. For me, it means that I have to let go of so much, even though I still worry about him every day. For him, he's got to figure out what it means to have parents once you are a legal adult no longer at home.

He kind of got robbed, finding permanent parents so late in his childhood, after 15 years in foster care. I'm not sure he was quite ready to grow up, but it happened anyway. To make matters more complicated, I imagine that growing up in multiple foster care placements, it was traumatic to try to maintain attachments to those you could no longer see on a daily basis. I think he tried hard to shut down any feelings of longing or absence while he endured those many years bouncing around in foster care. This new situation is a big one for him--the first time he has ever had the freedom to choose his destiny, including where and how to live. I know he can feel its gravity, and his own uncertain promise while he adjusts to this place in between childhood and adulthood.

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