Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Blubber Pancakes With a Side of Grief
Losing a youth pastor just absolutely stinks. Pastor Bronson came by yesterday to spend some time with the kids, and try to explain that he's not leaving them, but moving on professionally. Thank God for Facebook as he wants to keep in touch, which is spectacularly necessary in a houseful of traumatized children.
Eleven of my children sat in stone cold silence at first, Chuy's jaw clenching with emotion, and I truly worried about CW who is very capable of attachment. Not to compare a youth pastor to dogs, but losing our two yellow dogs to old age last week has only compounded some loss issues that often rear its head around here.
None of my kids just cry with sadness, like children who've been raised and nurtured since birth within one family, instead they violently explode. I've posted pictures here, over the years, of destroyed furniture and many holes in the walls.
After Bronson left, I became the emotional target for their anger. Rudeness prevailed, which is a major step up from the violence and destructive aggression of earlier years.
I truly hate to see him go and I fought tears as well, doing what I do best, which is to throw my emotions into the dirt, pulling up some tomato plants that weren't doing too well, and replacing them with small patches of soybeans instead. Planting new hills of Hale's Jumbo Cantaloupes is my substitution for the Valium I don't take.
I'm using a photo, without permission, sent to me via Facebook yesterday from a guy who usually cracks me up, we're battling a mice problem like crazy, setting traps each night, another hassle of rural living, but the beauty of going outside in Georgia's searing blast furnace heat, sweating and working until totally drenched with sweat, while not having to make small talk with neighbors, nor explain why my kids act so crazy at times, far outweighs the mice fight.
I can yell at a teenage boy to stop peeing on the stepping stones, "Dude, aim elsewhere," without explaining to my non-existent neighbors that this is a fairly normal boy thing. Hey, I had brothers.
A friend called last night with a wonderful furniture offer I can't refuse, I'm ecstatic over it, need to coordinate our plans today. A queen size bed for the new room we gutted, construction halted until next month as my budget got sapped too quickly. That's OK, I'm learning patience in my old age.
JoJo asked me to make blubbery pancakes. What the heck? Blubber? You want me to use whale fat or something? He'd seen a package somewhere for blueberry pancakes, misread it in his haste, his disconnected thoughts always shooting randomly in weird sync with his wildly impulsive actions that generally causes trouble for him, all due to his own miscalculations regarding normal behavior. Always a beat off, but usually entertaining, as he does have a dead-on sense of comedic timing.
And lo and behold, I have a teenager with a fairly acute case of social anxiety. Yolie, with her advanced degree in social work, often helps me figure out my troubled children, and this one son of mine is interesting.
I've mistaken clinging behaviors and emotional neediness for his total inability to function properly out in public. Intimidated by large stores, like Wally's World, unable to be sent down another aisle to get milk without me walking with him, or left alone at the haircut place, heavy emotional meltdowns and shutdowns in school for years and years, unspoken fears, and an intense need to always be with his slightly younger birth brother. The signs have been there, but as he grows older, the natural need and progression for independence is gonna be very stilted, unless I get him some specific help.
"Behavioral cognitive therapy," suggested Yolie, knowing I'd discuss it all with Dr. Mandy. Since this child doesn't really act out all that much, since his small negative behaviors don't really provoke a massive need for therapy, it's very important that I don't overlook his still small need, to turn his ship around, and allow him to grow up to be a self-sufficient adult.
I mean seriously, how can any child acquire any self-confidence when his many, many moves, and multiple painful emotional breaks with different caretakers, have all contributed to an overwhelming sense of loss, and thereby provoking frightening, constant thoughts that this world is a very scary place? To him, it truly has been so.
He does well at church or other very familiar places, he does have a very intelligent, pretty girlfriend, and he does function well with her family. But I see the chinks and cracks in his emotional armor, and I dearly want him to grow up and function on a much higher level. He's a very good looking kid with a low level of emotional maturity. I love him dearly and want the best for his life.
"Look, y'all," sweet Bronson tried to explain, "It's like when your older brothers moved away. You're still in touch with them, it's just a different relationship now. Not over, just different."
Bronson, once a young single guy, fresh out of college, now an older, married father, has been a strong constant in my childrens' lives. They've literally watched him mature, now they feel bereft and left behind. I hope and pray that the transitional period will not be long. I'm praying for a new youth pastor very soon. I'm praying the new guy will be half the man Bronson is, if so, then that'll be enough. Bronson has been fantastic.
Youth pastors generally burn out in 14-18 months statistically, to have eight years with one is remarkable and a blessing. Interestingly Sarah had the same youth pastor from grades 6-12, Pastor Tracy, and he's still with us, he's still our mentor, as is his wife Lisa. I cannot imagine any scenario where I'd be comfortable without him in my life. He's long been our rock, our confidant and our challenger, urging us both on in our respective faith lives.
Since JoJo'd not very brightly walked off, leaving his Facebook account open, Sarah was unable to resist the urge to update his status using her own very proper English abilities, her other grandmother being very British, sometimes it's easy to tell Sarah wasn't raised in a large, loud and raucous family, other than her last few years of high school, when I'd begun adopting and creating the upheaval of her once sedate world.
Sarah's children, Ray and Hazel, think my very rambunctious household is too cool for words, so many hilarious older children, so much action and activity, leaving me extremely grateful that she's on a distant piece of our original property, right behind Yolie's house, yet none of us can see each other due to the trees.
Y'all sure can hear my family though. Likely some of y'all, my distant readers, can hear us from many states away from Georgia.