Short and Sweet

This is what we were doing a year ago.

It’s hard to believe that a year ago, we were rushing to make The Girl Next Door livable. It’s hard to believe that any of this has happened. It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a year. It feels like we’ve always lived like this.

In a few days, I’m going to go back over everything that has happened in a year and our plans for the future. I’m so excited  you’ve decided to join us on our journey. See you on the road.

Teenage Turmoil

Sometimes I can’t believe I wrote something. I went back to read the blog I wrote last week about Jason. I got a little teary and wanted to click “Like” on it, then realized that it’s kind of bad etiquette to like your own post.

Last time, I told you, “The primary medical treatment is through pharmaceuticals and anxiety control. I’ll try to discuss this soon when I talk about why the last year has been hard for Jason sometime this week.”

Jason has always had a little bit of a hard time making friends. Kids are harsh and tics are not the norm. It’s hard for children to look past a constant motion like that. On top of that, Jason’s always been extremely sweet. This didn’t work in his favor with young children. He was easily hurt and often went running back to the adults crying “Bully”. There were a few good apples that were very sweet as well. We had them over as much as possible.

This outcast persona in his life, Jason tried very very hard to make friends. He was pretty impressionable and fell to peer pressure regularly. As parents, none of us knew what to do. You’d think with 4 of us, we’d be able to come up with something. Alas, we kept playing defense on the latest scheme he and his friends came up with.

When a child is this easily swayed, they tend to fall in with friends that may not be the best choices. As children get older, these choices of friends start to create situations that may lead to bad choices in behavior. These bad choices in behavior can lead to addictions, whether it be drugs, sex, stealing, or fighting.

Jason fell into some rough crowds. As parents, we were happy he had friends, and unhappy with which ones they were. We tried to keep him safe by allowing less overnights and asking him to have them over to our house instead. We met the parents and discussed what the rules at our houses were. We pried into his life in ways that make all teens irritated and all parents more anxious.

No matter what we did, Jason out smarted us. You see, this sweet young man is also fairly smart. The IQ tests say he’s high average, but I know better. He’s good at playing dumb. It’s gotten him a lot of what he needed in his life. His mom felt needed because he couldn’t remember things. His dad felt like a protector because he “couldn’t take care of himself”. And he got out of doing wrong things by “forgetting” or “I didn’t mean to.” I’m not saying that every one of these times was a play; I just know that many of them were put on to keep us complacent.

Complacency is something all parents crave. We don’t want to nag, be anxious about your behavior, or check into the person’s alibi. We want you to be trustworthy in all you do so that we can just ride through parenthood without a hitch. And we all know that no one is perfect. We all make mistakes, especially when learning about life.

Learning about life is something Jason’s done his share of in the last 2 years. We’ve run into mental health issues, drug issues, stealing, and some questionable choices in how he handles school and other responsibilities. I don’t think these are uncommon. We’ve done the best we can to field the challenges as they come. Jason’s mom took most of the paperwork and agonizing because he’s lived with her most of the time for the last 3 years. We tried to help when we could, but there’s only so much we can do without undermining the other parent, which still happened from time to time because we’re not perfect either.

I want to go back to the sentence I brought forward from the last entry: The primary medical treatment is through pharmaceuticals and anxiety control. I’ll try to discuss this soon when I talk about why the last year has been hard for Jason sometime this week.

When a child starts extreme medical intervention at a young age, they generally start using different pharmaceutical drugs very young as well. Prescription drugs such as sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medicines are some of the most abused substances among teens. The availability of these drugs makes it that much easier to abuse. Plus, once you’ve realized that some substances affect you much stronger than other substances, you might start to try to find the “one” that “fixes” you.

Experimenting like this happens very commonly with children that have medical issues. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) published an article in 2010 about Prescription Drug Abuse. Here’s what presenter, Nora D. Volkow M.D. had to say about teen drug abuse: “Nonmedical use among children and adolescents is particularly troublesome given that adolescence is the period of greatest risk not only for drug experimentation but also for developing addiction. At this stage the brain is still developing, and exposure to drugs could interfere with these carefully orchestrated changes. Research also shows adolescents abusing prescription drugs are twice as likely to have engaged in delinquent behavior and nearly three times as likely to have experienced an episode of major depression as teens who did not abuse prescription medications over the past year. Finally, several studies link the illicit use of prescription drugs with increased rates of cigarette smoking, heavy drinking, and marijuana and other illicit drug use in adolescents and young adults in the United States. Thus, prescription drug abuse may be part of a pattern of harmful behaviors engaged in by those at risk for substance use and other mental disorders.”

After some scrapes with the law over domestic violence, stealing, running away, and e-cig usage, Jason went into a residential treatment program last October. He was there until June. During that time, he was watched pretty much 24/7. It was grueling and transformative. I think all 4 of us parents started to feel like we had our caring, sweet Jason back.

Jason went from treatment back to his mom’s house. It went well for a time. He was part of an intensive day program for the summer, he got a job, he even had a girlfriend for a while. His mom dealt with all of this in stride for the most part. Once the day program was over, the county still hadn’t set up some of the services they had been going to get before the move home. Jason and his mom both struggled to keep it together. They did well for the most part.

Then, a few weeks ago, Jason started school. The added stress of school, work, and pleasing his parents seem to have become too much. Just over a week ago, Jason was found unresponsive by a friends’ parents. He had taken some prescription drugs from his friend’s prescription pills. Thankfully, he did not take enough to kill himself, but he was in the hospital for a night and his parents were terrified that he might not make it.

When they were done at the hospital, Jeremy and his ex wife decided it might be better for Jason to live with us. That is how we acquired our new resident. He is enrolled in a high school that is 45 miles from where we are parked right now. Getting him to school at a reasonable time before we have to go to work has been the biggest struggle. Picking him up after school has been just as hard.

With all of that, we are doing pretty well, though. There has been disagreements about rules, screen usage, and space. Those are bound to happen, no matter how much space you have or what your teen’s been through. I think those are natural discussions at all households have. But we love each other and all 3 of us are working really hard to gain trust and put the past behind us. We’re hoping to move The Girl Next Door closer to Jason’s school without taking us out of range of the jobs that we currently hold. It should be an adventure. With that adventure coming, we’ll see you on the road.

If I can’t see it, it didn’t happen

A visual journal is much like a diary, but instead of just writing things about your life, you make art with your life included. I’m excited to be starting my visual journal as part of this Lent writing every day goal. So far, I have written 3 letters, a few diary entries in my physical diary, started layering a few of my visual journal pages, 2 in my prayer diary, and now the second entry here.

The fun thing is that a blog is a visual journal of sorts. I can include pictures and videos of what is going on very easily. I have some pictures to share with you of what’s been going on with The Girl Next Door.

She got moved into the shed at Jeremy’s parents’ place a few weeks ago when one of the windows was found leaking. It’s a good thing with all the wind over the last week.  Thankfully, we got the windows out with no problems. Jeremy and his dad started insulating the front wall right away for when we put the windows back in. 17193715_1873220836247273_144457305_o

In the meantime, we took the windows home and started cleaning them off to change the glazing. One day, while I was at our office and Jeremy was at home working on the windows, he came to the office. He informed me that he had cracked a window pane. We had to go to Indianhead Glass in New Richmond to get the glass in the frames replaced. Then, they gave Jeremy some pointers on replacing them in their spots and he did it last night. They look great!

17193973_1873230032913020_657374277_o

While we were waiting to get the windows back from Indianhead, we had to find some work to do to keep moving toward our move in date. We decided on creating some window insulators that can be removed when we want to use the windows. We took some foam siding insulation that Jeremy’s dad had, taped the ends together, added a Reflectix wrap around it, and placed velcro around the window to hold it in. Now, we’ll be nice and toasty.

Jeremy also got busy with some other insulation that we had been planning: the interior vent covers. He added reflecting foam to the inside of it just big enough for the vent hole. Then, he added Reflectix to the outside to provide even more protection from heat and cold. We had just enough of the foam to add it to the bedroom window as well. Instead of Reflectix there, we’re able to get a little bit of light still.

When it was all done, I tried out how well it worked. The bedroom heated up in about 15 minutes with our little electric space heater and stayed warm for a long while. We are more and more ready to move in on the 18th.

Our next step is to finalize the list of things that need to be done before we park at our semi-permanent location. We have already gotten so much done that it’s hard to remember when we hadn’t started yet. And, like every household, there’s a running list of things that need to be checked, fixed, and maintained. Let’s raise a glass to home ownership, whether it be on wheels or not. Enjoy the almost spring weather and we’ll see you on the road.