Last night Tom decided to leave home. Yes this came as a bit of a surprise to me too!
Apparently he felt it would be a good idea to go and stay with his friend for a few days as I didn’t really want him around and I only care about Elsie and I am always shouting at him and life would be better all round if he wasn’t there. Seriously?
Anyway, let’s start at the beginning…ish.
It was around 3.45 pm my mobile was ringing with an unrecognised number, usually I wouldn’t answer it but after the last few weeks I answer all calls as they are usually Tom related.
This call was no exception, it was one of the mums from the school. I am going to try to keep this to the point as if I relay everything word for word (including the swearing), we will be here for a while. She informed me that she had seen Tom riding down the hill, from the village into the town, crying his eyes out. She had made him get in the car and once in town had called me to find out what I would like her to do with him.
Answers on a postcard please!
Firstly, I feel I must explain that the hill from our village to the closet town (which is not a big town by any stretch of the imagination), is steep, there are no footways, it has sharp corners and is a 50 mile an hour speed limit, which most cars exceed. It is dangerous. He is not allowed to ride down the hill, hence the reason why I always drop him off and pick him up when he goes to the skate park.
To say I was fuming is an understatement. She put Tom on the phone and in my don’t you bloody dare to think that this is even remotely okay voice, ordered him to come to the surgery, where I was going to give him 50 lashes and tie him up outside for people to throw mouldy produce at him.
He was still sobbing when my friend came back on the phone and offered to bring him round.
Now my colleagues all know the struggles I have been having with Tom of late and had quite quickly assumed more trouble was brewing, so when I slumped on my desk with my head in my hands, they were brilliant.
Reasurring me that it is a boy thing and giving me hugs and trying to make me feel better about the fact that I seem to be failing miserably with him. What the hell am I doing wrong?
Then he appeared, he rushed over still in his helmet with his face red and eyes full of tears and said ‘I’m sorry mum’ before giving me a massive hug. Of course, I hugged him back and the first thing that came out of my mouth in sheer desperation of the whole bloody debacle of the last few weeks/months was just: ‘Oh Tom, we simply can not go on like this’.
I felt like someone had taken the last breath right out of me.
The mum was hovering by the door so before I tied Tom up outside I went to thank her for probably saving my son’s life or at least some of his limbs. She was very good about it all and said ‘Oh it’s a boy thing, they are a handful aren’t they. Still he is okay and that’s all that matters’.
For now, yes!
Then while we were talking I noticed that Tom had ridden his scooter… I did a double take at this point… as it was not his bent up old scooter that he hardly uses now because he has buggered the handlebars up on it… No… it was his shiny brand new £200 scooter that I had bought him for Christmas, the one I had locked and hidden in the garden shed… Yes… that scooter!
My shock was clearly evident for all to see and as I said goodbye to the mum, I turned on Tom with a wrath like I have never felt before. He looked terrified and well he might. I frogmarched him to the car and told him that while I went back into work to finish up what I was doing and explain that I would now have to leave early (albeit only ten minutes or so by now), again, he had better have a good long think about what the hell just happened.
I left work to a chorus of ‘try not to kill him’. I am not making any promises!
In the car I could barely speak I was so angry. I wanted to try to calm down, have a vodka, or three and then talk rationally about what is going on in his head at the moment. It is times like this that were just made for smoking.
As we pulled out of the car park he started apologising again and saying that he supposed I hated him even more now. For goodness sake Tom don’t you get it, I don’t hate you. I love you. I want you to live, although you are not going the right way about ensuring that happens at the moment. None the less I do still want you around, even though you make every nerve in my body twitch on a daily basis. I LOVE YOU FOR FLUFFS SAKE!
Now this is where it gets slightly complicated. The whole thing with Tom is a mixed bag of pent-up emotions, some old, some new and while we were trying to talk it out later in the evening it became clear to me that the boy has some issues.
The new issues are the school ones, the dyslexia and people thinking he is stupid and getting to grips with the whole secondary school thing, new friends, new rules, new everything. The old issues are the issues he has with people leaving. First his dad and then more recently the guy who kind of became their dad. My Dad died 7 years ago and Tom still struggles with that. He was also very close to his cousins, two boys on his Dads side who we no longer see as their mother cut contact with us when I found a new partner and ‘moved on’. These were all the male influences in his life and he is struggling now, it seems, to cope without any.
His Dad and I separated when he was a baby. Contact was maintained for a while, albeit on a very unpredictable basis but he was a drinker and things were not ideal. I do not want to get in to the whole thing of it but suffice to say that he was not a pleasant man when he had been drinking and even when he had a new partner (also a drinker) the arguments were too much. I could no longer allow the kids to be involved with him while this continued. He has now not seen them since 2011.
In 2010 I met someone else, we had a fairly long relationship and he eventually moved in with us. All seemed well despite some initial teething problems with each of our children, he had two daughters but for some reason we couldn’t make it work. He was a good guy. Dependent, reliable, hard-working, all the things a man should be but for some reason it all fell apart. He left one day without so much as a word.
I will not speak badly of him as he was not a bad person, but to say I was angry doesn’t quite cover it. I knew things hadn’t been right for a while but I didn’t think we had got to that. I especially didn’t think that I would come home from work one day to find he had taken most of his things and he wasn’t coming back.
When I questioned what was happening he just said he was sorry but he wasn’t happy and do you know what? I can deal with that but what I can’t deal with, or struggled to deal with, was the aftermath. Over the course of a week he came while I was at work and cleared all of his things we never saw him, he never spoke to us and he never once thought about how it would affect the kids. Not once did he think that it might be worth explaining to them what was happening.
Tom was away on a school trip this particular week and so when he came back I had to explain that S had just left. That he wasn’t going to see him again. I thought he liked us he said. My heart sank. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Tom had only really known S as a father figure and he was devastated.
I tried to explain this to S but he felt it was better to cut all ties and not to have any contact with the kids after all he was not their biological father. Tom took a while to accept this and for months after still asked if he could phone him, wanted me to take videos of him at the skate park to send to S and in the end I had to be a bit blunt about it all.
I had to make him understand that he wasn’t going to see S again and that we had to move on. Easy to say not quite so easy to do, clearly.
Tom is still struggling with the fact that S is not in his life anymore. They had a rocky road to get to where they were and they were not always the best of friends but as a male role model S was everything a boy would want. Tom looked up to him and had grown to love and respect him.
He simply does not understand what happened and why he doesn’t want to see him anymore. He blames himself and thinks it is his fault that we broke up. Of course it wasn’t.
We talked for a long time about everything, school, dads, being responsible for your actions, homework, girls, Elsie, me, family, you name it we talked about it and I think it helped. I sure hope so.
I did obviously have to mention the fact that despite him being very emotionally unstable at the moment he did still steal his Christmas present out of the shed and attempt to ride off in to the sunset and for that he will have to be punished.
He is back under lock and key, grounded for the foreseable and until I see a marked improvement in all things Tom related he can forget about getting that bloody scooter for Christmas. He knows and I know that we can’t go on like this.
It is time for some tough love. He is being made to communicate more and we have set aside half an hour every night together to talk about stuff. He is not enjoying it as he would much rather be on his social media but that is how it is for the time being.
He needs to know that despite everything that goes on in his life the one thing that will never change is the fact that I am his Mother. I will do whatever it takes to ensure that he stays on the straight and narrow and grows up to be a steady, strong and responsible man. It’s my job.