Almost a year ago I wrote a post about my eldest son. You can see it here
I’m want to write about him again. Once again, don’t read if your kids are perfect, or you never have had a moment’s worry about them. Don’t read if you need to judge my parenting – I’ve made mistakes, and there are definitely things I would do differently If i had my time again, but i LOVE him, and I know he loves me, and through all of the trials, we have a strong, enduring bond.
This last year has been an up and down one for him, and for me as his mother. After his success at the NCS programme I wrote about last year, he ditched his unsuitable girlfriend and had a lovely girlfriend for about 3 months. He got a job, as an apprentice at the local University. He paid rent, attended work regularly and all seemed to be going well.
BUT, son 1 is bright, he’s articulate, he’s clever and the job was very dull. He quickly got bored, and although he stuck at it for 4 months in February ( without discussing it with me) he gave in his notice.
At the same time, his dream, had been to join the British Army. We started the application process, and he started to try and improve his fitness. I think I wrote how we attended a recruitment centre which filled him with excitement and enthusiasm. He hoped to join that Army air corp after basic training and become a helicopter mechanic.
He received a flat rejection from the Army, on the basis that he had had a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome. The letter said that we could appeal, if we could get a letter from a psychiatrist who could confirm that his condition was mild and did not affect his activities of daily living. I paid to see a private psychiatrist who wrote such a letter, and we resubmitted the application along with other supporting evidence. The Army website says if you do this, you may be offered an appointment with THEIR specialist to see if they feel you will be suitable for training. This was what we had hoped for.
Sadly we again got a flat rejection. With a code S8 , which means not suitable at any time.
This was a big blow, and I don’t think, at the time, I realised HOW big a blow.
Son1 got himself another job, at a warehouse packing boxes in the evenings into the early hours of the morning. It paid well, but was hard work, played havoc with what social life he had and was extremely regimented ( timed loo breaks etc) He didnt like it much and after about 6 weeks started not turning up – lying to me that he had a day off. He got fired.
The then got a job at a paintball centre – because some of his friends worked there – friends who are at college and do it as a weekend job. They took him on, but he quickly realised it was a zero hours contract, not regular, it was very poorly paid and he was not ‘with’ his friends at all… That lasted about 2 weeks
So since April he has been unemployed, directionless, started smoking too much weed, hanging around with people who do drugs, not helping at home, creating mess, doing nothing constructive. he decided he would like to join the Police force, great idea, but you need English GCSE which he does not have ( I also don’t think he’s mature enough yet tbh)
I have been very sad, stressed, disappointed, concerned, alternatively frustrated and despairing.
The ONLY positive thing about this time, is that there was no ExP going nuts and being abusive in the background, so I could set my own rules and boundaries…
Then, probably as a result of having no money, he stole something from me. Something valuable, and tried to sell it. I cannot express how disappointed, desperate and worried I was. Two years of slow trust building destroyed, once again this habit emerges.
So I decided to act. His life as it is, is going nowhere.
Next Saturday he will be going to Scotland on a three week wilderness / therapy trip. You can read about it here
When he comes home, we will have a week at home together and then he will have one further week to get stuff together and then he is leaving for a 6 month volunteer trip to Nepal, Nepal
He will live in a volunteer youth hostel, be fed three times a day, and expected to work rebuilding community amenities destroyed in the Nepal earthquake of 2015. He may go on to do conservation work in the Himalayas, he may then travel independently for a while.I dont know.
He will be away for at least 6 months.
I have many hopes for this trip – and a few fears. But its time. Hes almost 19. he needs to grow up and see that most of the world is much less privileged than he is. He needs to learn to work, he needs to learn life skills away from home. I hope , though he leaves as a boy, he returns a man.
I will miss him, It will change the dynamic in our home, but he needs to DO something, and for better or worse, this is what I have decided to do with him. He agrees and is actually quite excited now …
Watch this space …