I was torn between topics this week and decided to go with one I've touched on before while it was fresh in my mind. It seems these days a thought flutters into my mind and quickly evaporates when I blink or sneeze. So, I need to jump on my ideas before they disappear in the great abyss of lost recollections. One thing that does not seem to be forgotten is the disappointments repeatedly experienced when Aaron's parents fail to live up to my expectations of them as parents. No matter how many times I tell myself not to expect their behavior to be different, a part of me hopes these young, selfish kids will suddenly transform into caring parents. No such luck.
Earlier this week we attended a Christmas dinner with our son (Aaron's father) at the youth detention center he resides in. It was rather loud but was set up quite nicely. The cold, stark visitation room was decorated for the holiday and the tables were draped in linen tablecloths and complete with a Christmas centerpiece. The first part of the meal went well in spite of Aaron acting out both from fatigued and overstimulation. But, toward the end my son who had not seen his little boy in several months stopped looking after him as he explored around the room. He was content to sit talking to his father and others while I chaperoned Aaron on his big room of strangers adventure. I was disappointed that my son didn't want to spend every moment possible with his little boy, especially when it will be several months before he sees him again.
Aaron's mother has been equally disappointing. She lives a 5 minute walk and 15 minute bus ride away, yet does not make the time to come and see her little boy. She visited him once in the first week of July and didn't visit again until the first week of November; she called three times in between those two visits. On her last visit she stood in the kitchen watching Aaron rather than playing with him. She said she had started a job and that she would like to come visit Aaron on her day off each week. The first week she cancelled stating she had to work. The second week she said she had strep throat and wouldn't be coming; she hasn't been in touch since. She regularly posts photos on facebook of her new baby daughter and boasts how much she loves her, while I choke on my resentment and fight the urge to leave a scathing comment about her total lack of interest in her son.
I thought that I could lower my expectations; convince myself that Aaron is here for a reason and that reason is because his parents don't know how to be parents. But, I have serious doubts about this becoming easier in time. We live in an era of instant gratification and it has created a generation of selfish kids popping out babies with no commitment to raising them. Sure, they're fun to show off and play with for a little while as long as they aren't a burden to their personal freedom. When family choose to step in and raise a family member's child, they are motivated by two principal wishes. They want to provide the child with a safe, loving, healthy, happy home and they want the family member, whom they also love, to always remain a part of that child's life. We hold onto hope that someday the parents will mature and outgrow the dysfunction, addictions and unhealthy choices to become active role models and parents in the child's life. There have been cases when this ideal has indeed been reached, however, the reality is that day may never come. I know this... and still the disappointments come, causing new waves of hurt and anger. I nearly convinced myself that my expectations of other people and their behaviors were too high.
I no longer believe that to be true.
I suspect we are among a quickly dwindling population who still believe in personal responsibility, accountability and commitment. I feel society has erased boundaries of acceptability and removed the stigmas attached to undesirable behaviors to the extent that excuses are the norm. We are now seeing the consequences of that and these sweet babies are living those consequences.
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