Another Year

When I last wrote about n., (Dec. 15) he had gone from trying to show me that he could live at home, back to living on the street, and then back into a hotel placement with CFS. He was able to continue with the TRY program, but it wound up for Christmas. The successful students finished the classroom work December 22 and are moving into job assignments in January. N. is supposed to go back for a remedial week starting January 10, and hopefully into a job placement the week after that. But he is homeless again, choosing not to stay in a new placement that CFS gave him after serious misbehaviour towards the workers supervising him in the hotel placement.

I didn’t hear from him too much between December 15 and Christmas. Just before Christmas, he had some ideas about what I might do for him at Christmas. He suggested that I should pay for the first month’s rent on a room in a rooming house, which would help him until he had a job through the TRY Program. A couple of days before Christmas, he wanted me to rent him a motel room on Christmas so he could have some private time with his girlfriend. I said I would buy him some clothes when I knew what kind of work he would be doing – something warm if he had to work outdoors or something that would serve as working clothes.
He called me Christmas Eve. I was alone because Claire had left with her mother to spend time with her mother’s family for Xmas. I took n. and his girlfriend for dinner. It was peaceful except for a discussion about why it was my fault that Danielle was homeless. He went back to the fact that I had talked to Danielle’s mother, which had made her parents paranoid about n. and very restrictive with Danielle, which had forced Danielle to run away (her issues with drugs and boys and his issues with sex and controlling her not being issues for discussion). I have the sense that he was going to ask me for money for the rent on a rooming house again. Danielle left to use the washroom and when she came back, she said she did not want to interrupt our conversation. I had the sense they had talked about something and that she had expected n. to raise the issue when she left us alone. I can’t prove that, but they were exchanging glances and body language, and something was going on. After dinner I drove them to the apartment complexes near Portage Place. They said they were going to visit someone.
I had stopped the car at one point on the way to let n. make a phone call. I told Danielle that n.’s mother and I had had a hard time last Christmas, just after we had kicked him out of the house, and that it had been impossible to contact him at Christmas. I thought that if she was spending time with him, her parents would not be able to reach her at the shelter where she was supposedly staying. I thought she might take the initiative and get in touch with her parents.
On Christmas I found him at the hotel, and she was with him. She had a safe bed in a shelter but had opted to spend the night with him. The CFS worker had tolerated this. I invited him to join my family for Christmas dinner at my sister Teresa’s house. He agreed if Danille could come. I went to pick them up and found them in the bathroom (sex or drugs or both?). I said I was leaving. N.said I was early (I wasn’t). When we arrived for dinner, n. and Danielle took their plates to the basement where the younger people were eating and watching TV.
Part-way through dinner Cory (Frank and Jan’s second eldest daughter, who is n.’s age)brought the younger kids out of the room because n. was sharing street language, street knowledge, and edgy insights with the younger kids. I immediately offered to drive n. and Danielle wherever they wanted to go. I dropped them at the 7-11 at Young and Sargent. He did not want me to know where they were actually going. I since figured out that they know some young people with a suite in rent-subsidized apartment block on Kennedy near Sargent, a couple blocks away. I thought his paranoia about my knowing where he was going was tied in to the fact that drugs were to be purchased and consumed.
After I got home, Danielle’s dad called me. He hadn’t heard from her for a few days and the shelter said she had not been using her bed. I was able to tell him that Danielle was getting food and seemed to be finding shelter. He said that n.seemed to have been responsible for harassment and vandalism of their home, but he did not hold n. responsible for Danielle’s involvement with drugs or for her decision to leave home. We agreed that n. and Danielle did not seem to helping each other to make safe and healthy decisions about their lives.
N. called me on Monday (Dec. 27) or Tuesday to press me to take him shopping for his Christmas present. I had said I would buy him some work clothes and he decided I should buy him some metal band merchandise at at a head shop. I agreed to re-allocate some of the gift into that purchase. He said he needed the new clothes for New Year’s Eve. I said I was tied up that day but I would find time if he called me Wednesday or Thursday. He said he would contact me but didn’t and the rest of my week was peaceful, as regards n.
I later learned that Danielle has cystic fibrosis and has not been taking her medication since she left home in early December. She was in the emergency shelter on Mayfair a few days after Christmas. A worker at the shelter noticed her terrible cough, and she was transferred to hospital.
I didn’t hear from n. until Sunday January 2. He told me that Danielle had been in the hospital although it took a bit longer for the whole story to come out. I gave him a ride to the hospital on Sunday and Monday, and I bought him cigarettes on Monday (Jan. 3). I had to drop him and Danielle (who had a pass from the hospital) near the 7-11 store at Sargent and Young with his promise that he would get Danielle back to the hospital before 10:00 PM. On Tuesday he was upset because the hospital had imposed restrictions on Danielle. She could not leave the hospital, and n.’s visits were restricted. (I talked to Danielle on Thursday and she said n. got her back on time, but they had left the ward for a few hours).
I don’t have a clear picture of what n. did on Tuesday. I think he said he had visited Danielle, but he had to leave the hospital at 6:00 PM. He later said something about a sleepless night, which may mean that he was out with his friends. I think he did return to the hotel because I also later heard from n. that he met his mother early on Wednesday. She helped him make an appointment with his psychiatrist and made an appointment to have his eyes checked and to get glasses.
He called me on Wednesday (Jan. 5) and pressured me to meet him for lunch and to buy him some clothes at the head shop. I met him, and bought him a hoody with the logo of the metal band Korn. He started to pressure me to buy him some music. I pointed out that I had just paid a lot of money for a cheap hoody with a band logo and that I was saving my money until I had a better idea of his real needs. He couldn’t let go of the issue until he started to talk about the tsunami disaster. He said he would like to be involved in something important and intense like a war. I said that the Canadian military were involved in relief and peacekeeping operations. He said he did not want to help stupid foreigners who lived in disaster areas. I got upset at that point, and told him that the victims were poor people trying to get by in their own country. He said that he was a poor street person trying to get by, and I should show more empathy for him. I said he was poor by his choice to stick with criminal friends, his refusal to accept any help or advice in dealing with his addictions and his resistance to putting his time and energy into a job.
He said he was going to see Danielle, but he didn’t. He called me just before 11:00 AM on Thursday and asked me if I could give him a ride to the Health Sciences Center so that he could keep an appointment with his psychiatrist. I had my car, and I had an appointment there myself at noon, so I was able to give him a ride. He was blaming the workers assigned by CFS to supervise him during the last 12 hours for various misdeeds. Both were black men, immigrants who spoke with accents. N. claimed that when he had returned to the hotel the previous night, the overnight worker had been lying on n’s bed and masturbating to a video on TV. N. claimed the worker had been guilty of other acts that annoyed him, and basically claimed that the worker had pretty much invited n. to verbally abuse him. The next worker who succeeded the first worker had walked into the situation. N. said he had reduced this man to tears. He had gone to take a shower. He was blaming this man for not getting him out in time to catch a bus to his appointment. When I told him that his behaviour sounded bad, he told me not to defend the stupid boat-niggers and launched into a racist diatribe.
I dropped him at the door of the Psychiatry building and I visited Danielle for a while. She said that n. had not come to see her on Wednesday. She said she was hoping to be discharged, and she hoped that her parents would help her with the rent on a downtown apartment while she looked for work. She hoped n. would start to earn some money through the TRY program soon. I told her that n. did not seem to be managing to stay away from drugs and she agreed that he always had a reason to continue. I said that n. had been saying that he was going to get a job and place of his own for nearly two years, and he kept getting hung up on the fact that somebody (his parents or CFS through the Independent Living) have to get him a place before he could get a job. I said that n. had friends who seemed to hold him back. I said that if she got an apartment and n. moved in, she might find soon herself hosting and supporting a real life version of the Trailer Park Boys.
N. called me at dinner time. He wanted a ride from the hospital back to the hotel and he wanted rolling tobacco or cigarettes. I agreed to pick him up after I ran some errands and to drop him on my way home. As soon as he was in the car, he started in on me for cigarettes, and I got quite angry at his needy and manipulative tricks. He said he thought I had been in a good mood on the phone and was surprized I was angry. I said that the story I had heard from in the morning had left me in a bad mood. I said I was tired of taking care of him and cleaning up his mess.
I didn’t hear from n. until Saturday (January 8). He said he supposed I knew he had been kicked out. I said I had not been told but I was not surprised. He wanted me to meet him, buy him lunch and give him some money for food. I asked if he had been offered another placement by CFS when the hotel arrangement collapsed. He said they had told him that he had a bed at the Salvation Army. I said the worker had told me, back in October, when this happened before, that he would have his own room in the youth wing, and that he would not be with the adults. He said he was not going to stay there. I said I had nothing else for him. He called me repeatedly on Saturday and Sunday, and I agreed to meet him for breakfast on Monday in a restaurant in the building where the TRY program is run. He kept accusing me of being harsh. I said that I was not willing to do anything else to help him escape the consequences of his actions. I said that he had to stay with the TRY program, or get a job on his own.
He has been reasonably happy for the last few weeks. He has had time with Danielle and with his friends, although it has come at some cost to Danielle. He was able to bend the rules with most of CFS workers to get time alone with Danielle, and freedom from curfews. He started to lose control of the situation when Danielle went to the hospital. I think he was using drugs during that time, particularly after the hospital restricted Danielle from going out.
His idea of the good life seems to be more of the same street life – freedom, sex, drugs, good times with his friends, with someone else providing food, shelter, and clothes. It’s pretty close to the life he had before he ran away – his mother to take car of him, food, video games, metal, drugs, porn, sex but no rules, no job, no school to intrude on the happy flow of his life. This has been going on for over two years. N. was in this flow before Christmas 2002.
I hated it and tried to change it, but I was useless.


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