Just when we thought things could not get any worse or crazier,we discovered it can. This is a little story that happened to Jack a few weeks ago. We were living a reality show without the cameras. Catfishing to many southerners such as my generation & older generations means going to the river & trying to unearth the biggest catfish the water holds. Catfished on the other hand takes on a whole new meaning. I am familiar with the term, never had any experience with being catfished myself (until recently), I’ve really just heard about it on talk shows or the radio. Catfished means a person is in an online relationship (never met the person) under false pretenses & either person or both share pictures that are not real, lies are told, & come to find out they are not who they said they were altogether.
Our Jack was catfished! He has been catfished before, but not to this extreme. Jack met a “girl” online. I’m using quotes because I don’t know who it was, could of been a man, but my instincts tell me it was a group of girls from who knows where playing the worst kind of trick on my boy. I knew Jack was talking with someone, I could hear pieces of conversations & would look on his phone after he went to sleep. This “girl” told him she was coming to see him. The nightmare started a few Saturdays ago. He would wake early, rush to the front door to open it & stare outside. The following Sunday, the situation intensified. Jack until this point has kept the entire story hidden from us. Jack called me at work to tell me a girl was coming to the house to stay & there was nothing I could do about it. Imagine the things running through my head. I was terrified to go home, scared of the what-ifs. What-if a person really did come, what-if this person told Jack another lie that she came & we wouldn’t let her in, what-if the excitement from all this caused him to have seizures, what-if he got mad about all of this & became volatile? The list of worries went on & on. I was nearly 100% positive no one was coming, this was confirmed the next day when the “girl” kept telling Jack they were running behind due to traffic or got lost. The biggest lie & how I finally knew she was not coming was when she text Jack & said she was coming from Florida, made it to Raleigh, then ended up in South Dakota. This person or persons taunted Jack for days. Thankfully with the medication he would go to sleep, however would not stay asleep for long because he had to go play lookout in the living room watching for her car. I tried my best to reason with him, telling him this person was lying. Remember, Jack has zero reasoning skills. What he hears or sees on the computer is the gospel, plus he’s a teenager & parents know nothing.
The following Monday, one of our helpers with Jack got involved. Jack wanted his helper to reach out to this person & see when she would be arriving. It was a pretty smart move. His helper made Jack think we were on his side & anticipating her arrival. She used phrases like his family loves him, his disability makes things difficult, when was she coming. Finally, by Monday evening, Jack told me he was going to tell this girl if she wasn’t going to come, he was going to tell her they should breakup. I can not tell you the relief that came to our minds & hearts when he made that statement. I called on family & friends to join me in prayer about the situation. Because of God’s grace, the situation ended peacefully which was so not what Lee nor myself were expecting. We were expecting an explosion. For three days, Lee & I were literally worried sick. Our stomachs felt the constant fluttering of butterflies, we couldn’t eat, sleep, be the parents Ava needed. We sent Ava to stay at Mama & Daddy’s since we weren’t sure what would happen at home, we teetered on the edge of greeting a stranger with a 45 pointed at them or a physical outburst from Jack. I have said before that it is always something every single day, I truly mean it! Not only do we have to deal with the daily struggles of seizures, behavior, sleep issues, not eating or drinking, obsession with electronics, now there’s this. Jack was trained too well by me, he knows his address & phone number by heart & will share with anyone. The boy is too smart in some areas for his own good.
Jack is sort of like any typical teenager. He urns for social interaction, wants a girlfriend, loves loud music, spends a large chunk of time on electronics, ignores his parents. However, all the the qualities teens possess, Jack takes to the extreme. He is an extremist in everything. Where your teen might want a girlfriend, Jack looks to “friends” that he’s never met to help him find one, therefore leading to catfishing. Loud music for your teen might be too loud for you, you ask him or her to turn it down & they do. Loud music for Jack means when you ask him to turn it down, it gets louder. This time of year it’s is like being at a dance club for Christmas music fanatics in our own home! We are literally rockin’ around the Christmas tree all day & night long or living with Buddy from Elf!
There have been some improvements in Jack’s behavior since last December when he was hospitalized for a physical outburst. We aren’t scared of him like we were before (although the potential is always there), he voluntarily went to Mama & Daddy’s house for the first time in nearly a year, his door has been open more, & I’ve been able to get him to the dentist a few times. Getting him to bathe & brush his teeth is still an ongoing issue. The teeth ordeal is such a hard one for me. My family will tell you I am fanatical about dental hygiene. I’ve never missed a day of flossing since I was an early teenager, I waterpik & use a dental brush every day. My bathroom sounds like the state fair with a generator running when I get ready for bed at night with my dental machines going. As I write this, Jack is at the dentist getting his first fillings. Jack always had beautiful teeth & smile. I never thought he’d have cavities because he’s like me-doesn’t like sweets & used to take care of his teeth.
Over the last year, we’ve learned to pick our battles with Jack. We have accepted not to get too comfortable with him because anything is apt to occur, we can never let our guard down. Thinking 10 steps ahead of the game is absolutely necessary to survive this crazy hand we’ve been dealt. All we can do is pray that Jack’s obsession with finding a girlfriend or wife passes. He honestly thinks it’s okay for him to get married at the age of 17, not have a job, & leave our care. Never mind the care he receives at home & his medications. Jack simply doesn’t possess the quality to think things through long or short term. I would love to go back to the pre-electronics age where information could not be found in three seconds. The web has made ugly people uglier. It has robbed innocent people of their dignity, money, & mental well-being. I am stunned by the things Jack has dug up on the internet. There is no going back now for most of us, Jack especially. It’s practically the only activity he can participate in due to his health. What an unfair world we live in. I told you my life was unreal!