I just looked at him and grinned.
Because while both assertions are debatable
and we would have that debate
Again and again
We would have it
There is always a ring of truth to all his hyperboles and occasional allegations
And maybe I’d humor him on that day
with a simple ‘Uhn-uh’
Just for the little charge I know he’d get out of it
Like when he pokes and prods
Opposition-ating and Defying
(easier than Acutely Stressing)
his way through the sea of youths in a 24/7 shit show
a Disorder, if you will
saying with his Bx’s
what he can’t say with his words
I got thrown away before I could crawl
The one home that kept me couldn’t be bothered to keep me
from seeing exactly what Dad did to Sister
and then couldn’t be bothered to keep me
Every piece of rhetoric I’ve ever been given is that Family--
And every reality I’ve ever gotten is that Love is conditional
I am not secured
And I am detached
And yeah, I am reacting
But this is where I was sent
And you’re the guy who got assigned
And you are not going to ignore me now.
Connections get forged through hard work
And he was
Nothing if not hard work
So we agreed
That I would not ignore him
(not that I was planning to)
That we would hold each other mutually accountable
to our assignments
No matter the weeks after the full benefit of treatment
that turned into
For each one, my report to the County reading between lines in attitude
What I could not write out in words:
out of here.”
Lest his world become that much smaller
Which it did
Lest he have nothing else to do
Which he didn’t
But ruminate on the monsters in that world
which the local news was making all too plentiful at the time
and reminding him daily:
And what exactly can I tell him?
it just happened.
But it did happen
And under his bed is about the only place they’re not hiding.
More hard work
Entailing much immersion with stuffed animals
and me learning all of their names
and dedicated night staff tucking them in with him
Making sure there were surrogate stuffies
for weekends and days off
(My supervisor’s idea)
Never less than five to end a session
(His idea, supported by my supervisor)
a factor of 3 to 10
holding the social service’s hands
pulling over a finish line
what seemed curiously either like heels digging in or an immobile body slumping over
I don’t judge
I just make lots of phone calls
And occasionally curl up into a fetal position of my own in the middle of the office for all co-workers to see.*
Then I judge.
Because the longer he’s here
The harder to make the transition
The needed goodbye
The more difficult for it to be a healthy one
Because when exactly has he ever had that?
But there we were
On that last session
In his new home
a temporary, hopefully long-term, one
but one I fought hard for and knew I could trust with him
Still occasionally Defying
But well on his way to Adjusting
(Not his idea)
“This is hard.”All he could say.
All I dared to say.
No less than five small hugs.
Then one long full one.
“This is hard.”
(for both of us)
This time looking right at me.
His voice shaky