Monday, May 01, 2006

We're on our way to 4K... Eighty-Eight Finger's Story

Reader Advisory:

This entry involves introspection and the self- analysis. Details of my Big Mistake are revealed, namely falling for a sociopath. But, really, the heart of the story is about my over-active four-year old son, who has been fondly deemed Eighty-Eight Fingers for his many adventures in breaking things and wreaking havoc upon an unprepared world. This is the story of his sad beginning in life and a new beginning, his eminent enrollment in Junior Kindergarten...so help us all.

My middle boy is four. In September, he is eligible to start Junior Kindergarten. While he is excited, I am in a way terrified. Now all of my fears for him will be realized. I will have to see him as others see him and not through my "Mother Eyes," coated with familiarity and denial.

I have always known Eighty-Eight Fingers was different, almost from the day I realized I was pregnant with him. I guess to tell his story, I must explain about his biological father, and the story of my very traumatic pregnancy.

His biological father was a man who was living with me, who I thought I loved, whom I thought loved me. But the pregnancy brought out his true character. To call him a loser would be a kindness. I think my father described him best as a "Serial Mooch." You see, he is one of those guys who comes on really strong in the beginning, offering his gifts and services to get the girl hooked so that he can mooch off of her, have her support him, so that he doesn’t have to work, and can party all he wants. As a single working mother at the time, I did need some things done around the house that I was not very handy with such as repairs, lawn work, jobs requiring mechanical skills I did not possess. As a master-manipulator and probable sociopath, he saw these undone chores around the house as opportunities to endear himself to me and indebt me to him.

I met him through a friend, and at first I did not care for him, even though he had charmed my friends and they all insisted what a great guy he was. I thought he partied too much and was not well educated. However, he saw my reluctance and rose to the challenge. He showed up more at my friend’s house when he knew I would be there, making himself present and available for more conversation. He heard I did not like his drinking and strategically curbed his intake. He pretended to like the things I liked. He paid me complements on the things that were important to me. For example, he would tell me how hard I worked, what a good mother I was. Then he would sell himself. He poured on the charm. He would offer to fix things around the house or cut the lawn. He could tell I was lonely, and played that up. He would spend time with me, just talking, just listening. It only occurs to me now he probably never comprehended a thing I was saying. He told me I needed a real man around to "take care of me." Slowly, slowly I began to agree. Since I had a lot on my plate, I eventually gave in and let him cut my lawn. That is how he treated it, like it would be a favor to him if he could cut my lawn. He even offered to help my family move or with projects. He charmed them. They loved him, just like my friends loved him. Eventually, I started to question my instinct to avoid him and let him come around more frequently. After all, if everyone else loves him, why didn’t I? And he did his best to convince me I was well loved and valued. His love was like a bad drug, and I became addicted to his attentions.

We had been together almost a year when I realized I was pregnant. Unfortunately, I had just started considering breaking up with him. He could not keep a job. That was obvious. And he was adverse to any type of responsibility. I told him my news one night while he was playing a video game. He neither paused nor looked up from his game. His fingers kept hitting the remote, the figures continued their plight on the screen. I might have said nothing, or been the far off droning of a fly in his ear. I guess a baby changed nothing for him, for did a child not cement my bond to him forever? He knew my weakness, my terror of being alone, a single mother again. Oh, how he knew these things. And the knowing gave him power. So why should he look up?

Once I was pregnant, he started drinking more, spending more time away with “friends” doing who knows what. When I was three months pregnant, I started spotting. I went in for an ultrasound only to discover a subchorionic hematoma, or a “bruised” placenta, with placenta previa, which meant complete bedrest and, most importantly, no sex. That was it. What was bad became worse. Now we could add verbal abuse to his list of crimes. He started kicking the dog. He lost another job and anoter job and another job, so many I could not keep track. We fought and I cried. He used his power, his knowledge of my fear, to keep himself around.

I supported us all on my disability checks until about 27 week pregnant when I was released to go back to work part-time. Then one day, unexplicably, he was gone. He vanished like the morning fog on a hot day. I was seven months pregnant with a high-risk pregnancy. I was not even able to take the garbage out and he left! Turns out it was for another woman, no less. Well of course. Remember, no sex? I stopped eating and gaining weight. I couldn’t let him go. Part of me thought, “Well, good, that’s that then and who needs him anyway.” But that part was very small. The part that spoke the loudest was the angry, enraged part, the part that hunted him down in his home state and all but dragged him back by is ears. He agreed to come back, as if he was doing me a favor. But he did not come, not right away. He made excuses like he was saving up some money. Finally, the stress caused me to go into pre-term labor at 32 weeks. Fortunately, after a short stay in the hospital, the doctors were able to stop the labor, but I was back on restrictions again. Suddenly, he did me the great honor of returning to accept his responsibility.

He returned and was worse than ever. Now, added to his ever-growing list of crimes was an extreme jealousy that ate at him like a cancer. He insisted that because he cheated, I would cheat too (yeah, because I really felt like sleeping around at 32 weeks pregnant).

One week before I had our son, I was fired from my job. They called it a “position elimination,” but I knew it was because they did not want to deal with any more of my “Mama Drama.” Fine. I would raise my baby boy on unemployment. After a few months I found work. Since he could not keep a job, he stayed home with the baby. That caused a situation where I was dependent on him for something. It gave him more power. I was forced to endure his constant accusations of my infidelity. If I was a few minutes late it was because I was with someone. Once, when it was hot, I had taken my stockings off to drive home and left them in the car. He found them and insisted I was screwing a co-worker. This when he was the one who went out constantly, partying, drinking, doing who knows what, I stopped caring. It was about this time I realized that even though he was staying home with the baby while I worked, it was not helping. He was spending all of our money on his vices, verbally abusing everyone, physically abusing the dog, threatening me he would take the baby from me and I would never find him. Yes, he had to go. But how? I couldn't afford my mortgage and childcare on just my salary. Finally, after an exceptionally bad fight, when he threw things at me, scratched me and grabbed my son and threatened to take him from me, I knew it was time no matter what. I would find a way to deal with finances. I fled my house after winning a physical struggle for the baby. I think he put him down so he would have both hands free to stuff his bags with my valuables to visually demonstrate to me he was "leaving." He was not seriously leving. He had played that game before. This time, however, I was serious. I fled the house and called the police (knowing that he would want to avoid any encounter withthe law like the Plague) who issued a warrant for disorderly conduct. It worked! He did not come back this time. I heard he stayed around town for a few months, got into trouble with the law, moved back to his home state, and I haven’t seen or heard from him since. He is transient. I don’t receive child support from him, but that is fine. I want nothing more from him except this silence forever.

Eventually, there was light at the end of that dark story. I met a man, a wonderful man, who loves me and whom I love wholly, completely and forever. He loves my son as his own and accepts all of our “baggage.” He is not a twisted sociopath. We are equals in our marriage, no power plays. We even have some twin brothers now for Eighty-Eight Fingers to teach all his troublesome techniques.

Back to Eighty-Eight Fingers. With a beginning like that, I guess the child is bound for a difficult life. He must have been exposed to my overwhelming grief, rage, and stress throughout that pregnancy. I think it may have been instrumental to his development. Formed through pain. Imagine what that does to a child.

He always has been a child on the go. He started scooting around backwards at five months, crawling before seven and walking, I mean running, by eleven months. And he must touch, feel, and basically disassemble/destroy everything in his wake. He is quick, he is sneaky, and the poor kid is always in trouble. Whenever we leave the house, it is like he short-circuits. You can almost see the confusion and how overwhelmed he is with all the novel stimuli written on his face. He is basically rendered incapable of paying attention or controlling his impulses. He does not listen when I scold or redirect him. He does not remember rule from one instant to the next, so I am constantly scolding him for the same things day in and day out, things that his two year old brothers have already learned (I know, you shouldn't compare your kids, but JEEZE, the contrast is striking). His father had a history of ADHD in his family, and I am almost positive my son will be diagnosed with it. The test will be this new journey, Junior Kindergarten.

I know he is active, I know he gets into things, but now he will be compared to other children his age. Is he simply “All Boy” or a "Handful" as I have heard him described. Or is it more than that. Is there really some motor, some excess force in his brain, driving his every movement in fifty million directions at once? What will the world make of this boy, who has been through so much, who will must endure much more if he is ever to learn in our society and succumb to “normalcy.” Is it possible for him to be normal? Should I even desire it? Is it not better to embrace his exuberance for life? I must admit his boundless energy and curiosity frequently is too much for me. Once I even screamed at my husband in a fit of utter exhaustion from his ceaseless antics, "He has to go on drugs or I do!" How can I expect a school, where order is essential, to endure it? I myself am constantly telling him to settle down, leave his brothers alone, listen, behave. Everything I tell him must be retold in minutes, in seconds. He is a wind-up toy that never winds down. I often wonder what my desire, and ultimately the school’s and society’s desire, to reel him in will do to my boy who has already been through so much? And what if we don’t reel him in and he just can’t cope in this world and is constantly reprimanded for not succeeding? How much more will he suffer then?

2 Comments:

Anonymous Susan said...

Wow! I hardly know how to respond. I have only girls and I often marvel at the energy of the boys we encounter at our activities. I certainly don't mean to make light of your concerns: I know that they are heartfelt, stay awake at night sort of questions. I have the opposite concern--my daughter is often so passive that I worry she will be eaten alive at school, in the world. I think it is the most difficult parenting delemma...balancing just how to ease them into the world.

I hope that this transition to Junior Kindergarten will be a smooth one for you little boy.

02 May, 2006 11:31  
Blogger macboudica said...

I knever had to worry about my daughter being eaten alive. She ate other kids for breakfast. She still does. She's a tough one.

02 May, 2006 11:42  

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