I spoke with Colin's therapist before I came out for a strategy session as her boss, our psychologist, was on vacation. I told her I was going to change the routine slightly and not try to announce my arrival. Instead I would ignore Colin and let him approach me. My sister and I decided we would not continue the sick game of hide-and-seek but were concerned about what to do if he went missing before bedtime.
As per our discussion, my sister found Colin in the lower level and announced that I would be coming to stay that night. She told him we were not going to chase him and he was expected to be in his room by 10:00 p.m. She continued on, telling him that he didn't have to be in "bed" (he sleeps on the floor) but if he was not in his room, we would call the police.
Colin did not look happy and went to his room. Shortly after I arrived, Aunt "P" went to look for my son in his room. She has taken out the drawers in the bathroom to make it easier to open a locked door and harder for Colin to barricade himself inside. After a search of the room, with no signs of her charge, she found him hiding under the bathroom sink with a towel over him. Aunt "P" acknowledged his presence and left.
When 10:00 p.m. came around, my sister looked under the sink, at first glance it looked like her nephew was still there. She lifted the towel and found two pillows. Colin instead chose to hide behind some soft flip-chairs that were pushed up against the window alcove. He was burrowed down, hiding under a blanket. At least he looked comfortable.
Saturday At The Park
Saturday Morning, my sister's friend Kathleen called her to see if she wanted to meet at the dog park for a play-date with their pups. Aunt "P" gave Colin first right of refusal to come along. When he failed to respond, I went to the park instead. We stayed for over an hour and had a nice time. We came home with two dogs, my sister's pup and her friend's dog. My sister wanted to freshen up before we went out to breakfast.
She stopped in Colin's room to check on him. This time my son was hidden in the dark behind the bathroom door. There was a note on the floor. Aunt "P" had to turn on the bathroom light to read it.
The note said " Stay Out! (srsy) I'm not talking to her, and I'm not talking to you until she leaves!"
My sister smiled and announced that I would be staying at the house until it was time for him to go home. She then turned off the light. Both dogs were upstairs near the bedroom door so she brought them into the bathroom. As they greeted Colin with licks, my son could not help but smile. There was a definite change in his demeanor.
"Is Kathleen here?" (Colin likes my sister's friends as well as their dogs)
"No, but she will be over in a bit"
We then left the dogs and my son and went out to breakfast.
After breakfast, Kathleen came over and we hung out at the pool until mid-afternoon. There was a graduation party in the neighborhood and the gals needed time to get showered and ready to go. Before my sister and brother-in-law left, it was suggested that I send out for pizza for my son and nephew. As far as I knew, my son had been in his room the whole time on a hunger-strike.
Later that evening, around 8:00 p.m. I asked my nephew to see if Colin wanted pizza or Wendy's. I fully expected a negative response but was surprised to hear he wanted Wendy's. I also learned that my son had eaten chips, pretzels and pop earlier in the day. Apparently the hunger-strike was short-lived.
My nephew did not want to come along, and assured me that Colin was too busy watching t.v. to notice that I would be the person bringing back dinner.
When I came back, I alerted my nephew that I would be leaving their dinner on the kitchen counter and I would be eating alone in the game room. I took my salad down to savor in private. When I entered the room and turned on the lights, I saw a bags of chips, pretzels and an empty Coke Zero can. I was surprised that my son had chosen to risk this as I must have been in the lower-level steam-shower when he came down.
I ate slowly and meditated to give the boys enough time to eat. When I finally came back upstairs, I was greeted by the sight of empty bags and containers littering the counter. I was relieved that dinner was a success.
Time For A Breakthrough
I decided to spend the rest of the evening reading and using the internet on my Smart Phone while lounging in the family room. As I was settling in, just before 10:00 p.m., I noticed my son making his way down the stairs. He marched over to the fireplace and turned to face me, holding a neon-green piece of paper like he was ready to make a speech. This was the first direct communication in over 7 months.
He mumbled something about ready to leave and proceeded to rapid-fire announce a list of demands.
1. We will never speak of this past year ever again.
2. No more Swimming (swim team)
3. No more Piano (lessons)
4. (I didn't catch this but I think it had something about being home-schooled)
5. We leave TOMORROW!
He then handed me the paper. I looked at it and saw a name (Lennox), address and phone number. This was in a town over two hours away. I was confused and thought he found a foster family that would take him in. I looked at my son for an explanation. I was in shock.
It turns out that Lennox was a puppy he found on the internet through PetFinders. I asked if I could see a picture of the dog and he told me he had it up on his laptop. I felt an urge to hug, cry, and have a "moment" with my son but instead I quietly followed Colin up to his room. I wanted to be careful not to spook him.
As my son adjusted the laptop to show me "Lennox", he pointed to the screen and slowly moved away to the farthest corner of the room.Colin had already emailed about the dog and wanted me to call them right away. I looked at the time on my phone and it was 10:15 p.m. and told him it was too late for tonight but I would do so in the morning. I could see my son looking down at the ground as he answered my questions and from reading his body-language, I decided to take my leave.
Immediately I ran to the lower level to call my husband about the breakthrough. He was encouraged but concerned that our first communication was a list of demands. I reminded my husband that Colin was told (by my sister on our behalf) that he could have a dog upon returning home. This meant that our son was coming to terms with the inevitable. Bringing him home would not be as horrible as feared.
I was asked about the specific type of mix of breeds of the puppy and in my excitement, I did not write them down. I went back up to see if I could get another look.
I knocked and asked if I could come in to see the dog again and I could hear my son mumbling that it was still up on the screen. When I entered the room, I noticed that my son was missing and the door to the bathroom was closed. I quickly jotted down the information I was looking for and left.
We all have a lot to process......
We are a Work-In-Progress!