Sockpants & Super Heroes: Trust But Verify
I don’t know about you, but I love saving money. When I was recently offered the opportunity to have a smart thermostat installed in my house, I was ecstatic. While my kids were away visiting their dad for the weekend, the device and bedroom sensors were installed. It wasn’t surprising that within hours of being home, my astute eight-year old daughter brings me her bedroom sensor and asks, “What’s this?” Putting it back in its place, I explained that the sensor helps me monitor the temperature of the house so we can be more energy efficient.
Weeks passed and frankly I didn’t give much thought to the newly installed thermostat until I received a notification that the sensor placed in my son and bonus son’s shared bedroom went offline. Immediately I became suspicious. The boys were gone for the evening so it gave me the opportunity to investigate. I didn’t find the thermostat sensor, but I did find a hidden cigarette lighter. I immediately felt sick. I called Tyler on the phone and learned through a heated interrogation that my boys had destroyed the sensor thinking it was a hidden camera installed in their bedroom. Many expletives flew out of my mouth that night as I explained acceptable alternatives to their act of vandalism: putting it in a drawer, covering it with a dirty pair of underwear, or even confronting me with the perceived invasion of privacy. Destroying the camera meant there was something they didn’t want me to see.
At 10pm that night, I drove to the store and purchased two home drug testing kits. I didn’t sleep a wink that night as I mentally prepared for what I was likely to learn that coming morning. With my two boys standing sheepishly in front of me, I presented them with their respective drug kits and gave them two minutes to deposit a urine sample. Five minutes later, both boys were rolling on the floor laughing with negative drug results sitting on the back of the toilet. “If you’re not doing drugs, why did you destroy the thermostat sensor thinking it was a camera?” Between giggles, Tyler says, “Guys play with themselves. We didn’t want our mom watching.” That was a mental image I could live without.
The following week, I sat on my patio enjoying the quiet of the warm summer night when I heard footsteps on my rural gravel driveway. To my surprise, a shaggy, un-kept man appeared out of the darkness. It was my bonus brother who had been part of my life since the day his parents accepted me warmly into their family when I was just 16-years old. “Hey, sis. I was wondering if I could hang here for a bit and charge my phone and get a glass of water.” I was stunned. “How did you get here? I live miles from town.” He shrugged, “I just walked. I don’t have anywhere else to go.” I became choked up looking at the shell of a man standing before me. It seemed like just yesterday that he was a young kid running through the neighborhood, playing army rangers, and shooting neighborhood boys with squirt guns. “You can’t stay here. You’re using heroin. I’ll charge your phone, give you water, and clean up your infected injection sites, but then I’m dropping you off somewhere in town.” Hearing me talking, Tyler came out to the patio where he finds the uncle he once idolized crying, shaking and rocking on our doorstep in a drug induced stupor. “What’s going on?” he said. I looked in my son’s eyes. “This is what drug abuse looks like. You mocked me the other day. But drugs ruin lives and robs families of the people they love.” It was heartbreaking to watch my son plead with his uncle to enter a treatment program and get help before it was too late.
As I left my bonus brother outside a church on the lower south hill where he would prefer to sleep so he could continue to feed his growing drug addiction, I felt overwhelmed. Am I doing enough to keep my kids off drugs? While I don’t have the answer to that question, I can say that I won’t give up the diligent fight. I will lecture, I will question, and I will verify without an apology because, frankly, I have too many more chapters I want to write with my children in our crazy adventures of Sockpants and Super Heroes.
Holly Lytle is the founder of The ISAAC Foundation, a Spokane-based autism non-profit. In her free time Holly enjoys chronicling her many adventures of motherhood mishaps raising her three biological and one bonus son who joined their family in early 2018. Holly shares these stories in this column and many more hair-raising experiences on social media.