September 2, 2011

"Grippers" (how to get homeless without even trying # 11)

Episode # 11 What about Jake  (click on the "grippers" tab and scroll down for the previous 10 episodes)

Lest we forget 12 year old Jake. What has been going on with him through all of this?

Jake, an only child, (he did not know that he had a sister that had been still-born two years before he had been born) had been the "shining star" in the lives of his parents. However, he had not been overindulged. His parents assigned him certain chores that were his ongoing responsibility and they checked his homework every night. He received a bi-monthly allowance and if he had not completed his assigned chores part of his allowance was withheld. He was being taught that there are consequences to what you do and do not do, an extremely important lesson for the character development of any child.

Bob, a blue-collar, fix-it type of guy, had Jake by his side anytime there were house or car repairs to do. Jake knew all about hand tools and power tools, could change the oil in the car, pull the spark plugs, maintain the lawn mower, mix concrete, and had, under his dad's watchful eye, replaced the broken belt in the electric dryer. Bob had Jake out in the back yard at four years old teaching him how to throw, catch and hit a ball and Jake had been in Little League since he was six. Jake loved his parents deeply and his dad was his hero.

Bob and Tracey had decided to be honest with their son about the family situation. They did their best to explain the unemployment situation, why they had sold mom's car and the two TV's (they still had the big TV in the living room) and why new clothes and shoes for the beginning of 7th grade were going to have to be put "on-hold". Jake understood it all the best he could and was happy that his parents had trusted him with this "grown-up" information and had confided in him. What he did not understand were the changes in his parent's moods, their new abruptness, their ongoing  pre-occupation with things inside themselves and the sudden lack of laughter as the joking around and good natured teasing that used to seem to always fill the air was mysteriously absent. Bob had no idea the effect his new found cranky quietness was having on his boy.

Bob had always taken good care of his family and was proud of it. But his ego had taken a hit when he was laid off even though it was not his fault. Suddenly, not having the necessary monies available for paying bills and taking care of other things was new found territory he was traveling in. He could not turn around and go back to where he had been and this provided another heavy shot to his ego. The two roofing jobs and work for his landlord gave his ego a temporary reprieve. It had felt good to be sweating again. Then came the back injury. Making things more stressful than they had been was the fact that he had been cut from unemployment because his injury had caused him to be temporarily unable to work. He had been humiliated once again when he was forced to apply to the Department of Children & Families for emergency medical assistance (only poor people get medicaid) and that application was still pending. The fact that he had applied enabled him to get some medical help contingent on the application being approved. It also allowed him to acquire his new monthly prescription of 90 oxycodone pills for "pain management". Quickly and unexpectedly those pills were becoming his "new best friend". He was supposed to take three a day. A few times he took four. The problem with that was a person would run out of their "meds" prior to the renewal date and with strict rules in place about prescription renewals, especially on "controlled substances", being out of an addictive medication  two or three days before it could be refilled could present quite the dilemma for the patient. The fiend called withdrawal would rear it ugly head.

Jake, bewildered at his father's behavior, did not and could not understand. He began to withdraw into himself, his grades began to slip and he was suddenly feeling insecure and unhappy. Tracey was beginning to notice the changes in her boy. As for Bob, he did not have a clue.

Next time: Episode #12  "Trick or Treat"