Another few weeks have passed since n. came home sick. He didn’t stay, but he has made some changes and wants to come home. We are talking a lot, and he is being less angry.
I checked with his social worker the next morning to find out why the Night Desk had refused to provide care when he was sick. The social worker said the Night Desk had “challenged the family”. N. was sick. I juggled some work commitments and worked at home. I made sure he took some fluids and that he was taking his medications. When I went out, I asked n.to come with me. I told him that he should not expect to stay after he was feeling better and that if he stayed sick for too long, I would logically take him to a hospital. He felt I was being harsh and pushing him. I said he had faked and overstated illnesses too often to be trusted. We had some harsh words, and we kept talking. On Friday, he was making a great show of his symptoms. I had told him that I was taking him to meet his social worker, and he was afraid the worker was going to billet him at the Salvation Army. N. doesn’t want to be with Aboriginal street kids and with “huffers” (glue and solvent sniffers).
During the month before n. was kicked out of the placement, he had applied for place in a training program called Training Resources for Youth (TRY) which would provide classroom instruction, and a small salary for attending classes for a few months, with job training and job placements. I followed up with the TRY program and the social worker. I learned that n. had been accepted for their intake starting November 8, but had lost his place due being on the street instead of in a stable environment. I tried to negotiate with the program and the social worker to get n. into the program and into a placement again.
At the meeting the worker told n. that the only shelter available was at the Salvation Army. He said n. should stay there or at the emergency shelters and stay in touch. N. desperately did not want to go there, and I let him stay home another night because he was still sick. His sister Claire was not invisible through this. She was not comfortable with him and not friendly. As Halloween was approaching, she had already made plans to be out on Friday night. N. and I spent some quiet time together.
On Saturday, he began to connect with his friends and decided he was well enough to go to a Halloween party or rave and he understood that it was time to leave. For the next few nights he stayed at the emergency shelter on Mayfair, and checked with his worker every day. At the end of the week, the worker placed him in a hotel again, and n. started the TRY program on November 8. During the first week, his attendance at the program was perfect, but he was fighting with a couple of the workers responsible for his care in the hotel. I had frequent visits from him, and he has been asking about coming home.
I have seen some changes in his whole manner and affect and I think he is more sincere about trying to live with me and come home, but I think he is not really stable yet. I have agreed that we are working to let him come home if he can get his life under control.
He came to see me on Monday (November 16) and introduced me to his girlfriend. Her name is Danielle. She is 16, and n. met her a few weeks ago. He had been supporting her conflict with her parents but has switched to encouraging her to work with her parents and stay at home. We have had some discussions about whether his need for affection is making him too obsessive about his relationship, and he seems to be getting it.
I was making plans to get him some more winter clothes and to spend some time with him on the weekend – a short drive in the country, a small hunt for rabbits or chickens.
I had a call from him yesterday. He said he had been kicked out of his placement. He thought it was because he had verbally abused a hotel restaurant worker and one of the workers in charge of his room. His social worker said that his behaviour in the placement had been aggressive, but the main factor was that they wanted to move him to a less expensive placement in a group home in North Winnipeg.
N. tried very hard to convince me that I should let him come now, and he argued logically that he will not progress in these placements which are stressful. I argued logically that he has made several changes but has not established himself in the TRY program, or any other school, or in a job. He has some good insights into our relationship. He still presents the same argument – he can’t be well unless he comes home, and that I am making him unstable by keeping him in uncomfortable placements. I still tell him that he can’t come back if he has not changed some of the patterns of his behaviour.
He asked me to spell out what he has to do to come home and I tried to spell it out. He decided to stay at a shelter instead of the group home placement that was offered yesterday. He is going to check with the worker again today, and come to see me today.