Runaway

A seventeen-year old boy didn’t come home after he was allowed to go to an underage dance at a public establishment yesterday. His friends said that they stopped at a gas station around 1:30 a.m. and they went in and left their friend in the vehicle. When they returned, he was gone.

Rumor had it that since hooking up with a new girlfriend, one that graduated this May and now refuses to become gainfully employed and is supposedly heavily involved in drugs, he has “changed.” He cut off most of his hair this past weekend and then dyed what was left blond (he’s raven-haired). His facebook updates are cryptic and worrisome.

It was a relief to hear that after he went missing, 15 hours later he was returned safely to home. He’d been found at the above mentioned girlfriend’s house. The one who denied knowing where he was when friends, family and authorities asked.

Yes, it’s a happy ending THIS time, but I can’t help dwell on what to you may seem just another clear-cut case of a runaway teen because I have known this boy since he was my son’s age. His parents are good friends of ours. They are the ones who tried for years and years to have another baby; tried several rounds of IUIs; and then finally brought home an adopted newborn in February. I’ve mentioned her several times in the past on my blog as our offices were next to each other when I was at the hospital.

His parents are loving and supportive to him. They are the positive epitome of Christian values and they have educated him all his years at the Catholic school. A two-parent home with two very successfully employed adults. They run prayer-groups for wayward teens in their home. They organize and attend Catholic retreats for couples routinely. From the outside looking in, his life – their lives – were perfect and exemplary. And now he’s a juvenile delinquent.

Here we are, Sparring Partner and myself, as soul-less as a couple of tumbleweeds. I have depression that remains untreated because SP doesn’t like medication. I’m sure I yell more than I hug. I have a little boy who not only has ADHD, but also has some kind of emotional disturbances, and for that we see a psychologist once every three weeks and give him medicine once a day. Every day is a scramble to get to where we need to do without someone having a major meltdown, whether that’s Doodicus or a cranky three-year-old girl.

If Dood does explode, sometimes the trigger doesn’t even exist. I made pancakes for the kids on Saturday and set down the first three ‘cakes, fresh and hot from the griddle in front of him at the kitchen counter. He went off in a fury, exclaiming how we hate him and how he hates himself. He has no idea why he said it. Then after not getting his way yesterday, he went off again in another tirade, this time blacker then I’ve seen before. I went outside to get away for a few minutes and when I came back in, he had written “I want to leave home and die,” on a piece of paper and then drew a stick-man with a knife at its throat and the word “me” next to it.

So I ask – no, PLEAD – of you, how can I expect myself to remain optimistic about my son’s long-term mental health when our perfect friends’ perfect child ran away from home??

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12 thoughts on “Runaway”

  1. It’s gut wrenching to read what Dood said and drew. And I know it was much, much worse to be his mom and hear it and see it. BUT, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t doing the right things for him. He is asking for help and you are giving him what he needs to get that help. I know it can be hard to believe when you are in the thick of it and hard to keep the faith but I think the fact that Dood can tell you what he is thinking or feeling even when it doesn’t make any sense to himself or to you is a good thing. I know of kids who never expressed their darkness and the people around them never knew and didn’t know they needed help. Dood is willing to show you his darkness. It is hard to hear and see, but as long as he is willing to let you in, you have something to work with.

  2. I will join in the chorus of “no family is perfect.” You are addressing issues now, so the chances that things will get worse exist, of course, but they are less likely. Stop comparing yourself to others. You’re unique and so is your family.

  3. Just as Dood’s outbursts are somewhat random, I think that which kids end up what way is somewhat random. Some is nature, some is nurture, some is luck (or lack thereof) and some is just a wild card.

    But I hear you. I go through similar mental gymnastics at times, too.

  4. I’m with electriclady. No family is perfect and it’s impossible from the outside to tell what’s really going on. The toughest families can produce well adjusted children and vv. This boy may have found it hard to raise issues in his ‘perfect’ family as his parents had so much else on their plates, for example. We don’t know. I can totally understand why it’s freaking you out, but I don’t think there are particular lessons here for you and SP and Dood.

    Poor Dood, just sounds like things are so hard for him. What is it that makes him so down on himself? Is he frustrated by not being able to get done what he wants to do? For how he thinks he makes you feel?

    Re the meds, get some. SP needs to wise up on this one. It’s a chemical imbalance. He should not be refusing you standard medical assistance.

  5. {{Hugs}} to you, that is really all I have. I struggle with how SP can be ok with medicating Dood but not you taking meds. I think if you feel meds are needed, take them, whether SP likes it or not. You need to be at your best to deal with anything that may arive for Dood.

    At this point, I think you are doing what you can. Keep diligent. Keep talking to his therapists. Make sure not to leave anything out, even if it embarasses you or you feel like it makes you look bad because their job is not to judge you but to help him.

    More {{Hugs}}

  6. I’ve never raised a teenager, so I have no authority to comment on this. But it seems to me that the lesson here isn’t necessarily, “perfect family produces delinquent so my not-perfect family is doomed to failure,” but that there are no guarantees–and if you can do everything “perfectly” and still have a troubled child, you can also do a lot of things “wrong” and have your kid be OK. To me, the fact that you are actively grappling with Dood’s issues now means that you will be that much more engaged and on the alert for warning signs of trouble as he gets older. I’m not saying that your friends were NOT engaged, but just that it’s easy to take for granted that if you check off all the right boxes that you’re protected somehow. And for better or for worse, you will never take that for granted.

  7. Just sending love. I feel the same way. Life comes with no guarentees you can only do your best and hope for the best. There is no perfect…even those neighbors

  8. I think none of us ought to be very optimistic—it seems so random who pulls through the teen insanity and who doesn’t, with a lot of surprises both ways. We can breathe a sigh of relief if they come through it okay, but I think we would do well to put the lid on the pot and not check again until their mid-twenties. Maybe mid-thirties, just to be safe.

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