Before we got back in contact with Patrick, we heard many things; all from the people who adopted him. Among other things, we were told that he’s an undiagnosed sociopath, he has RADD, he has no connection to his adoptive parents, and he’s likely to always be in an institution.
After spending a challenging two weeks with him over the summer and a significantly better week with him over Christmas, this is what I believe.
He is not a sociopath.
He does not have RADD.
He really did have no connection to his adoptive parents. And, he has no business residing in an institution.
He’s got his “stuff” to deal with. Of course, he does. But, he is not who they thought he was.
The day that Patrick was scheduled to come, I really didn’t know what to expect. I was so nervous.
I was also frustrated that I wouldn’t be there. It was one of the few times that I wasn’t able to arrange my work schedule. But, the good news was that once I was off; I would be off for the next five days.
Anyway, I was nervous. The last visit had its ups and downs. He had his walls up, his guard up, and his defenses ready. There were many lovable things about him, but it was so much work. I had a huge sense of relief when it was over, sadness that he was gone, and guilt over not being sadder. The week that followed was nothing like that.
When I called Brian to see how it was going. I was expecting to hear about a slightly sullen Patrick. But, instead, Brian said that all was well; that everything was smooth. Patrick had evidently rushed out of the car and tried to walk right into the house, but was thwarted by a locked door. When he did come in, he casually put his stuff in William’s room and started playing with Rose, the dog.
All I could say was “Weird.”
Brian agreed, “Yeah, weird.”
That became our word of the week. We meant, weird, in a good way, of course. This child didn’t make me bargain for a hug, smiled for my pictures (most of them, anyway, haha), and actually asked me to let him walk Rose. And, from my comfy recliner, I said, “sure.” 😉
Compared to what we had experienced before, it was, yeah, weird. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never really did. Weird!
When I got off work on that first day, it was late and I was stalling a little. So I told Jennice (my official babysitter/nanny/dear friend) that I would pick up Antwan and William and just meet them at home. Turned out, Patrick was looking forward to picking them up and was planning to hide and surprise them. Weird.
So, we agreed to meet at the house.
When I got home, I wanted to run and hug Patrick. But, all I could remember was how he had rejected me when we said good-bye last time. It felt similar to meeting up with a guy you really like. I played it cool. I was determined to get my hug, but I sure wasn’t going to let him know it.
Patrick was getting out of Jennice’s car as I was getting out of the van. I mustered up my courage and fake casualness; walked over and simply said “Hey.” I gave him a quick hug and said that it was good to see him. Victory!
We then headed to get the boys and began our surprisingly relaxing week.
Before getting to the school, I brought up what I considered to be an important topic. I told him that this was probably William’s last year believing in Santa Claus and asked him play along. I braced myself for some snarky response. Instead, he good-naturedly said “I still believe in Santa Claus, too.” Ok, then. And, the rest of the week, not only did he play along, but I think he enjoyed it. 🙂
Anyway, we got the boys. Patrick hid, they all said hello, and we were off to the store to try to stock up on food. I was pretty sure that one thing didn’t change, teenagers eat a lot. Last time, he asked and asked for food. I assume that he figured he would at least get all the food he could. But, this time, when I told everyone to pick a snack, he made a point of not picking an expensive one.
While at the store, I realized something about Patrick. It should’ve been obvious before, but I lost sight of it. He’s just a kid. In the midst of talking and thinking about how teenagers act and putting up with his mood swings; I forgot that he’s also just a little boy.
I remembered it when he almost pushed the cart into an elderly man because he was looking at something else. (I still have no idea how I stopped the cart in time.) I remembered it when he melted my brand new (plastic) Christmas plate in the microwave because he put popcorn in the microwave for Lizzie and didn’t bother taking it out. I remembered it when he played and played with the nerf dart gun that we got him for Christmas. And I remembered it as I stepped over nerf shrapnel on the floor.
He’s just a kid. He’s just a little boy who has never, ever, been loved completely and unconditionally by a mom or a dad. That’s messed up.
When I remembered that, combined with all the stuff that I had learned about his past, I saw him differently. And, suddenly, I had more patience. I know how to deal with energetic, unpredictable kids. I’ve got those.
I started to wonder if the last visit would’ve have gone better, if I had been different. It’s hard to say. Then, I had a kid who wanted to push all my buttons and take control of everything. This time, I had a kid who wanted to be on the same team and went out of his way to help me out.
All I know is that this was better.
Yes, this week, we saw the softer side of Patrick. He wasn’t trying to fight us. He let us in. He let us get to know him a little more. And, turns out, he’s pretty awesome.
He plays the clarinet, really well. He gives awesome piggy back rides, according to Lizzie. He’s got a wonderful singing voice. He makes great scrambled eggs. He organizes pantries. He hugs back. He’s really good at the yo-yo. He’s able to teach an Emily how to play Rummy (but, sadly, not the yo-yo.) He thinks it would be fun to dress up as Two-Face!
Yeah, he’s pretty awesome. 🙂
Anyway, back to day one! I went to bed, that night, feeling really good about things. We had a pleasant night and I over-used the word “weird.”
I also went to bed feeling a little scared that it would all go down-hill in the morning. But, instead, I woke up to the smell of scrambled eggs. Waking up to breakfast is never a bad sign…
(More to come!)