My son called last night and just had to talk to us…in person…because he can’t say much at the shelter without it being everyone’s business. So we went, picked him up. Let him talk. Much is happening. Not all bad. So I’m not sure what I’m feeling. First, I just got a call and he starts bell ringing for the Salvation Army today. It doesn’t pay much, will be over on Christmas Eve, and they’ll take 10% for his room and board at the shelter, but it’s a job. He told us last night he expects to be hired by a company that cleans one of our state office buildings here. Another man at the shelter just quit his job there in favor of another cleaning service, so we’ll see. Hopefully he’ll get hired, but as he starts today at noon bell ringing, he may not have gone to apply. He was planning to though and last night said that he might have two jobs, bell ringing and cleaning…so I think he’s applying, he’ll just have to find the time. Oh - and he is seeing his counselor. In fact, she picked him up for his last session! Apparently my really quite brilliant 19 year old son can't figure out how to read a city bus map. That's the good news. He spent a good long while last night just griping about J-1 and the shelter in general. Apparently he got into it with J-1 earlier in the week and almost came to blows. The head of the shelter wanted to talk to him because he was so obviously livid, and my son was sure that he would catch heck about that and sure enough, as soon as he walked out of the office J-1 was there saying, “Oh, ran to ___ about it, huh?” But they apparently patched things up as well as they every do. J-1 still making him crazy. There was lots of ranting about how J-1 never does his chores and still smokes pot and is rude and still he doesn’t get kicked out; how he is the only one following the rules and if he were to step out of line he’d get kicked out but it doesn’t happen to anyone else. Playing the martyr, as he has done for years. There was lots of complaining about the people he’s being forced to live with…how everyone there is crazy (there’s a guy who apparently is a vocal Satanist (kind of odd at a Salvation Army shelter), wears a cloak and talks about summoning demons), or has criminal records (one guy who apparently has served time for manslaughter and been in and out of jail since he was a juvenile), and the best guy he’s met, “D”, is a 31 year old former neo-Nazi (this is the guy with the cleaning job). He went on to say that he plans on getting an apartment – with D and J-1! (And J-1’s new girlfriend, who is an ex-girlfriend of my sons!) When I mentioned that living with J-1 wasn’t the best idea, he kind of blew, saying he didn’t have a choice, that everyone he’s friendly with are friends of J-1 first, that he can’t afford a place on his own and he only can stay at the shelter until January (which is true) and he has to get out of there. J-1 is a very personable kid. It takes a long time to see him as the bully/user that he is. Heck, we used to really like him, enough that we let him live with us! So yeah…I can see where he can attract friends better than my son, who is much less of a people-person. I can’t help hoping that J-1 doesn’t get work (he hasn’t yet) and that D will say no to living with him for that reason. But I don’t know anything about this guy other than he’s a former neo-Nazi, was a Marine, is homeless, and plans to go to Virginia in the spring. Oh, and he drinks a LOT. He was turned away from the shelter earlier this week when they did the night-time breathalyzer and ended up sleeping under a bridge and waking up covered in snow. My son said the guy blew a .14 and he couldn’t even tell he’d been drinking…it takes a lot to build that tolerance. On the up side, he said that he told D all about our situation and that D was very impressed and had the utmost respect for us for still giving our son the things he needs instead of just cutting him off and turning our backs on him…so I guess he’s at least hearing that from a 3rd party. Of course, what this all boils down to is that in my heart, I want him to come home!!! I don’t want my son living with convicts and alcoholics (not to mention J-1) and satanic wacko’s! I don’t want him around bad people! Of course, as Jabber pointed out, he wasn’t doing much better in the line of friends when he lived at our house. He still had friends who were in and out of jail (if not prison – though that’s probably more a function of age over morality) and who did drugs or drank a lot. I know that can’t happen - he can't come home. First, Jabber doesn’t think he should and I won’t fight it this time. I know he has to learn to make his own way and he wasn’t learning at home. We gave him everything, every opportunity, and it did nothing. On top of that – he was stealing from us! I have 700 reasons to NOT let him come home and only one to have him…I miss him. Sadly, as I told Jabber during my crying jag last night, I miss him, but I don’t miss HIM. I don’t miss the kid who steals and lies and screams and punches holes in doors and can’t have a conversation without peppering it with “eff” this and “mother-effer” that! I miss the son who spoke to me with some respect. Who was helpful and obedient (even grudgingly). I miss my son from about age 12 and down. I miss the young man he was supposed to be! I don't understand his behavior. I don't understand this life. I was a good kid! I did everything right when I was a kid. I respected my parents. I went to college. I went to law school. I followed the rules. I tried to be a good mother. I tried to teach him right from wrong. I treated my son with love. I respected his individuality. I didn’t push him into things he didn’t like. I was kind to his friends. And now he’s out of our home and living like this…This was not supposed to be his life. It was not supposed to be my life! I’m tired of having this ache in my chest and being near tears half the time. I swear, I cry at church almost every Sunday during a sermon or a prayer or even the choir anthem – it’s embarrassing! I’m tired of thinking about the holidays and wondering how rude it is to not invite his new buddies… that I either don’t want anything to do with or who I’ve never met. How I’m going to face the family at Thanksgiving if he doesn’t go with us. What I’m doing for Christmas. I’m so tired of the whole thing. I'm just ranting. I know there's no other way and I think that's the worst part. I feel so powerless here.