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Some days parenting is less “I love my kid so much” and more “I cannot strangle my sprog. I’m too weird for prison”. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jeremy but that love gets buried when I walk in the door after a 9 hour shift to discover zie’s done nothing around the house (again). Especially when Jeremy’s excuse is that zie was too tired followed by a retort that zie doesn’t see me at work so zie doesn’t count it as me doing anything. Seriously, this kid is 18 years old and still thinks I disappear out of zir life and do nothing until I appear again.

The excuses I hear for the lack of help are varied. Basically zie’s much too tired/dizzy/overheating/headachy to wash dishes, pick up zir stuff, or take the recycling downstairs to the blue recycling bins. However Jeremy has more than enough energy to rearrange zir room, shuffle around computers/monitors, and rearrange zir plant stand (including moving the entire 6ft shelving unit). As you can imagine, my patience for zir varying issues has faded appreciably.

To make life that much more complicated, I do think zie is struggling with serious issues on top of zir drama queen attitude (zie rocks a tiara for a reason). Jeremy’s sleeping is chaotic at best. Zie’ll spend several weeks going to bed early and sleeping all night then several more weeks will pass where zie sleeps in brief patches, often staying awake for 24 to 36 hours at a time. Some days zie’s chattering and happy, talking non-stop to anyone and pretty much anything.

“Who are you talking to hon?”
“Oh no one, just my laptop.”
“Okay hon. Umm, please let me know if your laptop starts talking back.”

While others will have zir staying in zir room almost constantly, playing video games and watching videos with headphones on.

Then there’s the days zie gets angry. Jeremy’s whole personality changes to the point where zie reminds me of zir father. Zie’ll barrage me with questions, give me no time to answer, then claim I can’t answer them because I’m a) too stupid and b) obviously lying. Zie’ll bring up purchases I made years ago to prove that I’m incompetent at buying things. After all, I bought a computer in 2013 that doesn’t have nearly enough speed for zir current video games. Plus zie knows zie could have fixed our old computer now. Zie’ll swear, call me names, and…

“Mom, I just want you to know I’m not rational when I’m angry,” Jeremy explained in an abashed voice. “It’s scary because I don’t even remember a bunch of the time I’m angry. There’s gaps in my memory.”

I asked my doctor for a referral to a psychiatrist back in September for both Jeremy and myself then double-checked that one was sent. Last Tuesday I decided to call the psychiatrist’s office myself to see where we were on the waiting list. His receptionist called me back while I was looking at coconut milk in the grocery store.

“I always call people within a month of their referral,” she assured me. “Oh yes, I see you now. I called you back in October and left a message.”

October. I tried to remember when I changed my cellphone. Was it October or November? I stayed with the same carrier but maybe the call happened when the phone were being switched. Could she have called right at that time? Did the voicemail disappear during the transfer?

“I have you down as number 905-240…” she listed off a number while I listened in disbelief.

“That’s not my number,” I replied. I changed my number with the doctor when I got rid of our home phone over a year ago. He’s called my on my cellphone to return test results.

We set up a phone interview date for me for the end of June, which I have to call and confirm because a) I was standing in the grocery store holding a tin can and no pen and b) the next batch of information knocked it right out of my mind. I asked her about Jeremy and it quickly became apparent they had no record of zir being referred even though the referrals were sent at the same time. Our doctor is great. He’s patient, friendly, a good listener, and willing to take time to discuss issues with his patients. He’s also really close to retiring. I have no idea where Jeremy’s referral went. The receptionist is going to check with the psychiatrist to see what they can do and call me back. She’s got the right number now.

As of this week I’m not arguing with Jeremy over chores. Zie knows what needs to get done and zie has the choice of doing them or not. The flip side is zie now has a sheet of financial responsibilities that come from zir disability cheque. Once the bills are paid, zie has exactly $100 to spend on zirself. Zie can buy junk food, computer parts, or save it. Meanwhile I have my money. If zie helps out around the house, I will buy zir treats (soft drinks, video games at Dollarama, yet another RC car from Value Village). If zie does nothing, zie gets the bare minimum. Basic healthy food, clean clothes, medication, and a home to live in.

The one chore zie’s not ready to handle is zir daily medication. I gave Jeremy zir pill organizer last week and zie lost it after one day and still hasn’t found it. Then I told Jeremy twice on Saturday to take zir morning medication only to be informed zie’d forgotten while we were at the drug store. At least that explained zir sudden dizzy spells and headache. The down side to me controlling the medication is zir pill schedule is not at regular times. Some mornings Jeremy gets zir pills at 4:30am and other mornings it’s closer to 9:30am, but it’s better than not taking them at all.

Both yesterday and today Jeremy worked on cleaning up zir balcony (we have two) and zie also went on a long walk through our local conservation area with me. Jeremy brought zir laptop and put a webcam on a stick then took pictures from varying perspectives. Hopefully the warm, spring air and sunshine will provide some energy and optimism to zir… and the lure of Dollarama video games and potting supplies will convince zir to wash the dinner dishes!

Colin on zir laptop3

Jeremy taking a picture of the other side of the tree.

Too old for tantrums…

This was the first time Jeremy and I have been to the Toronto Pride parade and, if he continues this behaviour, it could be the last.

Two months ago I sorted out what day the main Pride parade was on and made sure I wasn’t working. Two weeks ago I checked out the parade route and decided we’d go just north of the Eaton Centre to watch. Two days ago I sorted out the bus and train schedules. Last night I went grocery shopping for treats, bought sunscreen, baked the mini cupcakes, filled water bottles and placed them in the fridge, got out my big gym bag, and put all our supplies on the table for easy packing this morning. Here’s the cupcakes before they were packed…

purple cupcakes

I got up this morning, had breakfast, woke Jeremy, then looked at the clock while I packed the bags and cringed.

“Jeremy, we’ve got to go. Your breakfast is on the counter. I’m just getting dressed then we need to run to catch the bus.”

I quickly got dressed then went to hand Jeremy his bag.

“Wait, I just need to use the washroom,” he blurted then he hurried away.

Crap, I thought he’d just gone ten minutes earlier while he was in the bathroom, which would have made sense. I grabbed both bags and both water bottles then hurried to the front hall to slide on my sandals. Then I waited impatiently by the door. We’d had just enough time to catch the bus when I came out, I hadn’t counted on Jeremy; he takes longer in the washroom than most people I know. Jeremy finished then went into the living room and started rummaging through the stuff on the desk.

“What are you looking for?” I yelled. “C’mon. We’re going to miss the bus.”

“My cell phone. Can you call it?”

Crap again. My phone was in my pocket and I was holding two bags, two water bottles and our keys. I called and the phone started ringing just as he picked it up. We ran out of the apartment with it ringing in his hand.

We had two options for buses this morning. There’s a regional route which we needed to catch. It went by about two blocks north of our place at 9:07am but from there it takes a huge detour before coming back about 10 blocks south of us. We needed to leave our place by 9am to catch it.

Our second option was catching a bus in front of our building at 9:25am and it would connect with the regional bus at 9:29am. But, as I’ve mentioned before, we haven’t always had good experiences with connecting buses. We had no choice this morning, the regional bus went by when we were still half a block from the stop. Luckily we caught our connecting bus.

Jeremy was quiet on the bus and the train, preferring to listen to a book with his headphones on…

almost there

We got to Union and were immediately confronted with chaos. The whole building’s being renovated and we were routed to an exit I’d never seen before. Finally we got turned around and heading in the right direction for lunch at The Old Spaghetti Factory.

This restaurant was a childhood favourite of mine and one I’ve brought Emma and Jeremy to countless times through the years. It is absolutely incredible (and the food’s good too)…

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Lunch was enjoyed thoroughly by both of us and then we set off to find the parade. Jeremy was in an amazingly good mood and, like usual, the conversation got a bit odd.

“It’s so hot, I think I’m going to melt into a puddle,” I commented. “You’re going to have to scoop me off the sidewalk and pour me home.”

“That’s not going to happen,” Jeremy retorted. “You’re far more likely to burst into flames than melt.” Umm… thanks?

“It’s scientifically proven. I read that three people have burst into flames in the last…” his voice trailed off, he’d obviously forgotten that part. “Anyways, I learned about this in school.”

“Wait? What? You’re learning about spontaneous combustion in class?” I blurted. I wondered idly if the women in front of us could hear this conversation.

“Yes, we were reading about it in Rodney’s Believe it or Not.”

I figured that would be how you know your school board has really run out of budget money.

“Umm… I think you mean Ripley’s Believe it or Not,” I said dryly.

“Okay. Well the book said it happens to people who drink a lot of alcohol…”

One of the ladies turned. “Oh dear,” she blurted. Apparently they could hear us. I just laughed.

I turned back to Jeremy. “Hon, they call the book Believe it or Not because not every story is true. You have to figure out which ones aren’t true on your own. I’m thinking this would be one of the not true ones.”

We walked a bit further then I asked a police officer directions to the parade.

“Just down there,” he said and pointed. You can’t miss it.

The first thing I saw were huge pride flags. The second was the protesters. They were pretty lame. Two or three men, two banners, and a megaphone.

“Let’s cross the street,” I blurted. The light was about to change and I didn’t want to get stuck on the corner right beside the protesters.

“I want to punch them,” Jeremy muttered. “I wish this was a video game so I could punch them.”

“Well, it’s not and you can’t,” I replied absentmindedly. I was scanning the corner ahead of us for a spot to watch the parade. While I’d planned to wait farther up, the crowds made me realize that would be impossible. It didn’t take us long to find a spot though. It was in the sun but there were only two short people in front of us so we’d have a good view. There was a restaurant directly across the street, which would have been good, but there were also barricades. Behind us was a plaza offering some sort of VIP event. Hopefully neither of us would need to pee.

“Can I just cut their cord to their megaphone,” he asked a short time later as he glared toward the protesters. I was closing the cupcake box with no small amount of discouragement. I’d had no idea it would be that hard to give away free cupcakes. Only a handful of people had taken any. I’d long since tuned out the monotonous rant.

“That’s destruction of property,” I pointed out. “No, you can’t. Look, the parade starts in 15 minutes.”

That was when Jeremy looked up and noticed the patio…

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I’d noticed it almost as soon as we arrived and immediately pondered it for next year. The pluses were space, a pretty good view, and those mist machines; it was really hot. The big minus was the view would be awkward from that many floors up.

“Mom, we have to go up there,” Jeremy pleaded. “Look, they have space over by the green window.”

The space was there but so were the barricades. Even if we found a way across both barricades, I had no idea where the entrance was or how long it would take to get up there, and chances were they’d probably booked for reservations months ago. I explained this all to Jeremy. He was still begging 10 minutes later. If this parade was anything like the Santa Claus Parade, we could be waiting for another hour until the parade finally reached us.

“Fine,” I sighed. “Go ask.” I knew they wouldn’t have space but it would keep him busy until the parade arrived. He grabbed his phone and left.

Five minutes later a cheer erupted from the crowd. Holy shit, the parade was almost here and Jeremy was nowhere in sight. How could it be here already? I frantically called him.

“Jeremy! Come back! The parade’s starting now.”

“No,” he replied. “I’ve found a better spot.”

“C’mon,” I urged. “The parade’s about to begin.”

“Mom, I’ve found a better spot,” he repeated irritably. “I’m right beside a fence and there’s no one around me at all.”

I hung up and went to join him. I liked the spot we were in but did not want to argue with him, not that we had time. I crossed the street, found him, then agreed it was a good spot. There was barely anyone over there, even though our spot was packed (that should have been my first clue), and we were in the shade. Moments later the police drove by…

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… this was going to be great! I could see flags in the distance and then they turned. What the hell? We went running back to the intersection just in time to see them go by…

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I looked at the narrow road and the lack of barriers and realized there was no way floats would make it down here. We were at the end of the route, all the walkers were going one way and the floats another. Our former spot was on the real route where we could have seen everything but now we needed to make a choice which we wanted to see more. There were more walkers, it wasn’t that hard a decision. But I still wanted a chance to see a bit of the floats.

“I’m going to move up a bit,” I told Jeremy. He didn’t feel like moving.

I ended up wedged against a barricade with about five or six people in front of me and at least ten or fifteen between me and the floats. I could see both if I stood on tiptoes. I rested my heels against the barricade leg and leaned back to watch the rest of the parade.

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I had trouble seeing the floats but my camera has zoom which helped. You can see the protesters on the left. I’ve seen those lists of who’s going to hell in several atheist groups (people try to figure out how many points toward hell they’ve gained, with kudos going to the ones with the most points) but I’d never realized people really used them. Also, I have no idea what a “lukewarms” is.

The parade was very colourful…

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I idly wondered how Jeremy was doing. We chatted briefly via cellphone and picked a meeting space for after the parade. A short while later he called wanting to know how to find me. I waved my hand repeatedly.

“Mom, you can turn off your phone,” Jeremy said from behind me. I hadn’t even seen him. “I want to go home.” His voice was firm and irritable. “Now,” he added.

“The parade’s not over,” I pointed out. “Plus there’s going to be entertainment afterwards.”

He crossed his arms. “I want to go home now.”

“Jeremy, I want to see the parade. Our church hasn’t even gone by yet.”

He complained that he wanted to go home repeatedly over the next few minutes. I quickly realized this wasn’t fair to anyone else around us.

“When the next break comes, we’ll leave,” I promised.

Soon the next break came and along with it came Jeremy’s rant. It was all my fault. I was stupid and hadn’t even bothered to make plans, so I was lazy too. Obviously I couldn’t have planned this in advance, obviously I’d never even tried, or I’d have known that was where the parade ended and I’d have warned him not to go that far. It was ugly, nasty, loud, and totally uncalled for.

On our way to the Old Spaghetti Factory I’d given away my full container of fresh Ontario cherries and half a bag of potato chips to homeless men. Now we passed a man sitting on a patio chair. A hand lettered sign rested beside him saying welfare didn’t pay enough. That’s not a surprise.

“See, that’s how selfish and self-centred you are,” Jeremy sneered as we walked by. “There’s a homeless man begging for money and you didn’t give him anything.”

I ignored Jeremy and kept walking. He continued to rant. I walked into Cloud Gardens, a small greenspace in downtown Toronto, for a chance to breathe. Jeremy trailed along behind.

“What are we doing now?” he yelled.

“Giving me some space,” I retorted. “Put your headphones on and calm down.”

There was all sorts of entertainment at Dundas and Yonge. My original plan was to head there after the parade and hang out for a little while, picking up veggie dogs from a street vendor for dinner. There was no way I was inflicting Jeremy on anyone though. The next train was in twenty minutes.

I knew there was a homeless man sleeping nearby, I’d noticed him as soon as we’d entered the park. Meanwhile he slept through Jeremy’s rant, through a police officer checking on him, and my approach.

“Excuse me,” I said quietly. He didn’t stir. He was dirty and exhausted. All his possessions were in a grocery bag beside him and one hand firmly clenched his cardboard coffee cup, in an attempt to keep someone from taking it. I placed the box of remaining cupcakes beside him and walked away.

“I can’t believe you tried to wake him,” Jeremy ranted. “And I can’t believe you gave him those cupcakes and not the other man. He was probably a hardworking person with a home who just happened to fall asleep while drinking his coffee.”

“He was homeless,” I said quietly.

“How do you know?” Jeremy snapped. “Have you been following him?”

“Yes,” I snapped back. “I’ve been stalking him for weeks now in my spare time.” This time Jeremy shut up.

We got to the station ten minutes before our train’s platform number was due to be released.

“I’m going to use the washroom,” I told Jeremy. “Your washroom is over there. Meet me right here beside this Dairy Queen sign.”

I was back within five minutes. No one was near the sign. Crap. How long was Jeremy going to take this time. I watched as the time ticked on then finally called him. I didn’t want to call him in the loo but I wasn’t going to wait for an hour in Union Station for the next train.

“I’m waiting for you,” he replied. He sounded cheerful, which was a surprise.

“Where?” I looked around and couldn’t see purple hair anywhere.

“By the nine screens,” he replied. I could see nine screens all together. I hurried over and Jeremy wasn’t there. Seriously? I was not playing hide and go seek with a seventeen year old less than ten minutes before our train left.

“Look, we don’t have time for this. Meet me at our original spot,” I snapped. That was when he came around the corner.

“You wanted me to walk too far,” he smugly informed me. “So I waited over there instead.”

“Jeremy, you waited in a spot I didn’t know about. We make plans for a reason. Wait in the right spot.”

I read our platform number and hurried off. Jeremy tried to tell me we were going the wrong way but I ignored him (we weren’t).

The ride home was uneventful. Jeremy fell asleep on the train and was quiet on the bus. He snarked about getting the desktop first but settled down immediately. I went in and uploaded my pictures then emailed them to myself so I could access them on my netbook. Then I came in here to write.

“Mom? Everyone’s saying this guy was wrong but I think the fire department’s being an ass.” Jeremy sat down on the end of my bed. I sighed internally. “He parked in front of his own house and they broke his car windows to get to the fire hydrant.”

“Good for them,” I replied. “He was in the wrong at least three times. He put other people’s lives at risk by parking there, it’s against the law to park in front of a hydrant, and he parked in a no parking zone.”

“You’re a fucking asshole and I’m not doing dishes,” he yelled as he stomped out of the room.

It’s going to be a long summer for the both of us. For me, because I’m stuck with Jeremy’s volatile attitude and for Jeremy because he’s already noticing I’ve dropped down to necessities. I refuse to buy any treats for someone who’s treating me badly. No cans of iced tea while I’m at the grocery store, no chocolate bars from the dollar store, no containers of instant hot and sour soup for a snack, no downloading a video game because it’s on super sale for just a short time, no iTune songs. He gets a dollar a chore for allowance and loses a dollar for chore refusal and bad behaviour. So far he’s minus four dollars and the week started yesterday.

I don’t know what’s gotten into Jeremy lately but it better get out of him soon.

A mother’s intuition…

Jeremy loves to build things. My apartment is full of items that have been taken apart to see how they work then put back together again (with varying degrees of success). This Christmas my parents bought him a circuit kit that allows him to build all sorts of devices, most involving a variety of siren noises and/or flashing lights.

Last night he built a lie detector which came equipped with a bright red LED light and a whining noise that changed pitch if you told a lie. I was the proverbial guinea pig. I placed my hand on the sensors then waited.

“Okay, first question,” Jeremy said, eyeing me intently. “Do you love me?”

“Yes,” I replied. He grinned as the pitch stayed the same. Then he asked me when my last period was and I told him.

“Eww…” he blurted. “You’re telling the truth.”

“Is there any reason I should lie about that?” I replied. “Besides, you’re the one who asked.”

“Fine. Now it’s your turn to ask me questions,” he said as he tugged my hand off the detector and placed his hand down instead.

“How old are you?” I asked.

“Sixteen,” he replied, rolling his eyes. “Mom, you need to ask a tricky question.”

“A tricky question…” My voice trailed off as I thought. “Okay. Are you straight?”

Instantly his hand shot off the lie detector then he burst into laughter while hastily disassembling the detector. He didn’t say a word. Then again, with that reaction, he didn’t actually need to.

He’s still claiming to be completely 100% straight but my intuition and I are going to hang out and wait. His closet might be comfy but he can’t stay in there forever.