One day just as we were nearing the parking lot where Yasik’s team was set to play soccer, he blurts out that he doesn’t want to play. I don’t ask why. Appearing responsible is my default mode, so my blunt response was: “You have to.” Yasik came back with, “I don’t have to listen to you. You are not my mother.” Likely my eyes bulged a bit, but on the surface of things, I acknowledged his point, coolly countering that legally and in terms of his care, yes I was. We went to the game. Years later he told me he would never make his kids go to soccer. What was I not understanding? Was there a problem with soccer that I was missing? Or was this the first display of those ‘adoption issues’ adopters hear about? He was ten then. Nothing else surfaced for several years, at least that we were aware of. Then along comes a cold, wet night in March of 2007. Yasik was 14. Was this the night those deep seated issues of attachment determined to surface again, this time strong enough not to back down? Or was it just blinding, untested but quite normal teenage testosterone obliterating reason?
As a student with learning challenges struggling against parents who believed nothing, and I mean nothing, was more important than a solid education, fighting about doing homework was a nightly ritual by now. Yasik probably had more homework than most students, certainly more than he ever wanted. That made this night no different than usual; it started out as just another night with a flare up over getting homework done. Of course there is always more than just the tired, after work, homework conflict at stake. We were in the midst of another threat of flooding. TV weather reports had us uptight about the North Allouette pouring down the road instead of flowing sensibly under the too narrow bridge at 224 St. and 232nd Ave. If Yasik was angry, we were tense too; none of our tempers would have been at Calm on the emotional dial.
My journal entry of the night does not detail the fight we engaged in but does note that Yasik is arguing to go paintballing or skiing and we are countering with a negotiation of homework first. The fight escalates. Yasik, who deeply though sometimes selectively believed (you might read ‘stubbornly’ here) in justice, isn’t giving in. He leaves the house. Does he grab a coat? Does he slam the cheaply made front door? The journal doesn’t say, but it is likely on that cold, wet night threatening a flood, he is jacketless.
The first time your kid does that, you stop a moment. And I guess going outside into a night that does not warmly embrace his anger gives him a slow down as well because apparently he goes only as far as the front patio. A probation officer once noted that most runaways opt for warm summer nights.
Dave clicks in first, pulling a jacket on and going out after him, thinking Yasik is running off somewhere more in line with a great teen drama of fiction than merely hiding out under the eaves. I guess when it is your first move into rebellion you don’t always work out a detailed plan. Yasik lets his dad go off on a goose chase, slipping back in the house while Dave is out blindly checking up and down a rainy street boasting one lone streetlight on the corner.
Those of you who have a Bible-infused background may remember the verse in the gospel of Luke (my version) that goes, “Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” referring to the unusual activities of her firstborn, Jesus. This was the piece of the evening I continued to ponder in my heart for a long time after: when Yasik comes back into the house it is not with more fighting or cold slamming of doors. Instead Yasik comes into our bedroom; I reach out to him and hold him. While we stand there mute, me crying and shaken, Yasik says, “I always wanted to do that.”