I wonder many times why I never had children. If I delve deep enough, I produce five or six potential reasons. Being single isn't an excuse these days. Now that the fertility bus has left the station, it seems like a moot point.
But there are times like this past weekend that show me I could have been a parent. I possess the number one attribute required for any parent - worry.
Kevin is my pseudo-child. I feel responsible for his well-being and happiness. I call him everyday, because no day seems complete without saying "I love you, O'Connor-Boy." But I also want to gauge his contentment (i.e. - how well I'm doing my job), by the only barometer I have - the timbre of his voice. High-pitched and elongated words are good. Quiet, low-pitched and staccato are red flags.
When Kevin's group home called me last week to report his misbehaving/aggression, I asked to speak to him. A barely audible "hi" greeted me. I did my best to reinforce that good behavior yields rewards. Once I used the magic phrase "going out to dinner," he perked up to his usual self.
But I worry. Kevin never has issues during the week at his group home, only on the weekends. It is a combination of frequent staff turnover and a low activity level compared to weekdays. If I spent all day watching TV, I think I'd go a little nuts too. So I need to step in, be the guardian, be the parent. I suggest ways to coax Kevin to good behavior and activities that he can do on the weekends. He likes to hear that he's a gentleman. He responds to rewards. Scolding has never worked. It's hard to get a 160 pound man into a timeout if he doesn't want to go. I've tried.
And still I worry. Am I doing enough? What if his behavior continues, escalates? When will the next phone call come? What if they kick him out of the house? I try to keep myself grounded in reality, to trust that I'm doing everything I can, but I want Kevin to happy 100% of the time.
So I really am a parent after all.