I showed him the door

Benno came home. He came home in a mood. He wanted to speak to me in private.

He wants to be homeschooled. This is a new one. Add it to the list of demands. 

He’s hysterical. He’s screaming. “I’m not going back. You can’t make me go back.” 

I sigh. I’m trying to breathe before speaking now. And I ask him: “How would that work?

“You can teach me or someone else.”

And I ask again, “How would that work?”

Now he is angry. And he keeps talking. I’m not listening. He can tell so he keeps talking. 

I remind him that not ONE night of any night he has had homework to do has he EVER done it without hours of fighting. I remind him how I tried homeschooling him once. How he fought me every step of the way.  

I said it again. “How would that work?” 

He says he “will do it now.”

I get up. “Well great, we can talk about it after you show me.” I remind him of his math book. The TWO problems he is supposed to do a day. The promise he made to be able to drive the boat. The broken promises among so many. He has yet to do this without a FIGHT. I only fought prior to Jacob’s diagnosis and only twice. I know the book sits empty. 

He says he will start “tomorrow.” That’s a good bet to take. I would “short” that bet. I can promise you that it will not happen, but hey…there are statistical anomalies right?

I walk out.

He follows me. Steve is here too now and he begins to loop back to an old demand. “When am I going on a plane?” And he is crying about this. 

I ask him to stop. Stop talking. I remind him he knows the answer. We have had this conversation dozens of times now. He insists that he is the ONLY child not going on “vacation” this summer. He is the only child who “won’t go on a plane.” He is the only child…never thinking about the child sitting in front of him.

AND definitely, never thinking about the fact some children have never seen planes. 

I try not to scream, but I am. SCREAMING in my head.

Jacob walks in to show Benno his new wallet. He is so proud of it. 

Benno now wants a wallet. 

I remind him he has one, but it’s not like Jacob’s. He wants one like that now.

He won’t play with Jacob until he gets the wallet. I say we are not going out right now. It’s too hot. Maybe later. He asks if he plays with Jacob then can he get the wallet and I…

He cuts me off. He can tell I’m upset and he chooses to continue. 

Continue to fight.

Now he complains that he doesn’t get to go outside. He can’t “breath” in this apartment. 

I Showed him the door.

I showed him the door

I told him in life you have choices. You get to control all of you. I don’t have any say in how you feel the world, how you chose to be happy/sad. I have no idea what it feels like for you, but know this, you have choices. You have a choice to be in this family or not and here is the door.

It is always unlocked from the inside.

You have choice.

You can go.

And I show him the buzzer. If you ever want to come back I will click on the button. I will let you in, but know this, you can go.

I open it to help.

My mother-in-law is angry. I’m handing Benno money. I tell him to go. Go!  Buy yourself that wallet. Go do what will make you happy. You have choice. 

My mother in law is getting her shoes on. She will go with him.

NO! I yelled. I yelled. NO. He can go on his own. And now she is yelling “Stop it Abby. No he can’t! This is ridiculous. It’s dangerous!”

I want to pause here. I want to bring us all back to reality. Why are we all yelling “danger” all the time?! And why are we yelling it so freely?! It’s like crying wolf and now our children think the danger is everywhere. In 2002, the US Justice Department published a study and there is an estimated 797,500 missing children in a year. Of that number, only 115 children were a victim of non-family abductions. That is .00014%. And that number is ONLY going down. That was 2002. The USA is MUCH safer since then. At least from this perspective.

It’s not funny. That’s DEFINITELY the wrong word, but the danger is usually someone you know. Danger comes from someone wanting something of yours. They need to know what to want. So in the end, a stranger is less dangerous than “Uncle Bill.”

Now I hear you… NO percentage is worth the risk, but giving your child anxiety is a risk too. Which one is more dangerous when anxiety is crippling 50% of our youth. 

But, back to the door. In the back of my mind, because it is Benno (and this is his worst nightmare being alone on the street or even in a room), I knew he wouldn’t go.

But, seriously I wanted him to go.

I wanted him to go, TO COME BACK. 

I wanted him to see that the world is not scary. I want him to solve this fear of his. But more than anything I wanted him to CHOSE to be with us.

This our family. This is our reality. You can go or you can stay. The door is that way.

And he stayed. Probably out of fear, but he stayed.  He played with his brother (and of course had fun) for two hours. Who knows how long it will last, but the door will always be there.

It may not have been my best parenting day. Or maybe it was.

I showed my son the door. 

I opened it.

You can exit stage left.

I also left it open. 

Open to come in. 

Open to be with us. 

Open to do this with us. 

Open to be part of this family. 

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