My eldest son who is almost 18 has not returned to the family home since he walked out in November 2017, on the day we cremated my mother. Things had been building for a couple of years between him and the rest of the family but since he left school at 16, things took a turn for the worst.
Growing up he was always a headstrong individual and knew what he wanted and nothing would stop in his way. We thought that one day he would emigrate or travel the would such was his single mindedness. Once he turned 14, he changed and became more of the mumbling, grumpy teenager. Yes I can put up with the messy bedroom, the smells and disorganised lifestyle although it is annoying. The trouble came when we tried to help him and encourage him around his school exams. Anytime we tried to motivate, encourage or even just give it to him straight he would always reject our help and claim we were always “having a go at him”. This went on for a couple of years and no matter what we did or tried it did not work.
He would always set his bar low, maybe to avoid disappointment? So it was no surprise when he did not do too great at his final exams. He was always a very capable child but never had the motivation to push himself from maybe a C grade to a B or an A grade which was achievable. His answer was why, when a C grade is a pass? Yet at primary school he was in the “gifted and talented group” yet chose to apply as little effort as possible.
He always had issues with teachers even from primary school days. He hated people telling his what to do or that his actions have consequences. When he left school at 16, I gave out a sigh of relief with no more telephone calls home about his behaviour or attitude. We thought that going to college would help as it is more relaxed and not as regimental as school. However, he only lasted a couple of months at college after kicking over his work, swearing at staff and storming out. That college no longer wants him back even after an apology and I cannot say I blame them.
He had previously left home in a huff for one night and then for one week once and we never knew where he was as he would not keep in touch. Whenever I was out of the house, he would start arguments with his brother or his mum, yet did very little of this when I was around. He was aware of his height and weight advantage over his mum and younger brother and would bully his brother when we were not around. This we found out after he had left. This added so much stress in the house when I was working in the evenings as I did wonder what he may be up to when I was not at home to keep the relative peace.
The night he stormed out, I had left the house to drop my dad off at his home after the funeral and all seemed fine in the house. We had been trying to encourage our eldest to apply for part time jobs but everything we suggested was a rubbish idea.
When I returned home after dropping my dad off about an hour later, the whole house was in uproar. He had kicked off with his brother over the use of my laptop, he wanted him off the computer there and then despite him having an arrangement with his brother about this. When my wife tried to intervene as peacemaker our eldest flipped his lid and went into a rage. So much of a rage that he squared up to me and I really thought he was going to punch me. That was the first time ever that he has done that and I knew then this was a game changer. He went upstairs threatening to leave for good and started to pack his things.
After 10 minutes or so, I went into his room and gave him an ultimatum. Stay and we try to work this all out or if you are going, your going for good and I want his house key back. If he was to go, I was not prepared for him to return sometime later when he felt like it and expect the world to go on as normal, we had been here many times before and I wasn’t prepared to go through that again. Looking back he clearly had a plan that night. The next day, I got a call from the local council who deal with young people especially homeless ones and he had turned up there at 10am reporting himself as homeless.
He would never have known where to go and what to do so I suspect he had been finding this out for himself in the weeks prior to him leaving. Also, he was never awake before 2pm most afternoons such was his lazy attitude, yet here he is at 10am reporting himself homeless. That was another frustration in the house that he would not get up until mid afternoon yet claimed he was going to find a job without our help.
I used to see his friends walking to college in a morning or going for lunch in the local supermarket all before he had even woken up. And he was expected to be trusted to sort his job prospects out?
I was then and still adamant now that he will never return to our house. We have had some support from the social workers over the last few years with him and that continued. We tried reconciliation and I did go and see him a few times, sometimes taking our youngest too but he never wanted to see his mum. He always for some reason blamed her for all his failings. He has lived in a flat run by a youth project and I am happy that he has a roof over his head and a support network of staff who help his with benefits and job offer’s, etc. So I know he is not living on the street.
Whilst he was living with us the atmosphere was terrible. We only realised how bad it was when he left. Whilst he was under our roof we were all so tense, like a balloon blown up so much it is about to explode. Yet when he left, it felt like some of that air had been let out of the balloon and we could all relax somewhat. No one should have to live like that in their own home.
One evening a couple of months ago, I was around at his flat talking and he started arguing over old ground. He still claims that I threw him out of the family home when I demanded his key. However, like his brother says, who was there during the argument that night, he left of his own free will, I did not throw him out. Anyway, when he started arguing I left and have not heard from him since. He did however, kindly report that night to staff that we as parents used to beat him and his brother with a belt when they were younger.
That was the final nail in the coffin for me. There was an investigation by social services and as expected no evidence to his claim. We had to be spoken to and his younger brothers school was visited to establish how he is in school. To see if there are any concerns from staff around him, which the school said there were none and his brother is a happy well looked after child.
We did tell social services that this was clearly a malicious claim and the timing proved that. He made this accusation in a temper when I left and decided to cause us problems which they agreed.
So as we approach his 18th birthday, we should be getting him driving lessons, looking forward to a party of coming of age. He should be in education or maybe employment like a lot of his friends are, but no, he is being left behind as he has no motivation in him.
He stayed at my dads the other night, which is fine none of us want him to miss out on seeing his granddad. My dad stated he could see our frustrations as he was clearly uninterested and lacking motivation in trying to get somewhere in life. He has been to job interviews but does not chase things up. My dad told him to chase up the company who had interviewed him, which he finally did to find out they wanted a couple of things from him before processing his application. His attitude was one of being so relaxed he was never going to get around to doing what the company wanted. Like my dad says, he needs a rocket up him to get him to do anything. Yet when you ever try to help him or tell him to pull up his socks, he claims you are having a go at him, we despair.
In truth, I do think about him and the situation almost daily. It is a crying shame how things turned out but we never wanted any of this, it was all of his own doing yet he always plays the victim. When I see photographs around the house of him when he was younger, it seems a shame how he turned out. People say that 16-17 years old is a tough age and they will come through it. I understand that but our son was on a whole new level one which I dare Mother Teresa not to lose her patience with him.