Hi again. Dr. L.
I would like a followup exchange with you, and of course will be submitting payment for same.
First, I need to tell you that I have received emails from this site in 3 languages so far, besides English, asking if I would like to ask another question. I tell you this so that perhaps you can let the administrators of the site know that this is going on. The four messages came one after the other, in English, then German, then Spanish and then what I believe was Korean or Japanese.
Now to the matter at hand. I have been reading the Love and Logic books over the last few days, and am getting many good tips for handling my problem, however, I will tell you that I am not yet ready to face the situation. I really need someone to coach me through it and give me some specific words to use with my son in these specific circumstances. I have at the same time been seeking a counselor here in the area so that I can do this in-person. I have some requirements for that person-- he or she must speak both Spanish and English and be familiar with the cultures of USA and Mexico because of the nature of this family. Most everything that any trained counselor can tell me applies, but there are some things that can only be understood by someone familiar with the two cultures and the subcultures that have developed through the mixing of the two. I found just the right person here, a Mexican woman who is also a naturalized US citizen, who took her psychology degree at the U of Guadalajara and did a specialty in Palo Alto, CA. The problem is that she is currently in the US doing further training and will not return until June. She is uncomfortable doing any counseling through email. I asked her to recommend someone else and I continue to search, but in the meantime, I would like to continue to address this with you, even if I have to rehash with another counselor later.
Okay, here goes. You may want to have a map nearby for reference. You asked me why I spend so much time at my son´s house. It´s a long story. I hope I can tell it without boring you with too much detail. I feel I have to give you the background.
My husband and I returned to the US from overseas in 2006, moving to San Diego, CA. That is the city where both my kids were born, by the way. At this time, my son was living in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, which is about 90 miles south of San Diego. My husband has relatives in Ensenada, and he and I had lived there for a few years before we had kids. Our son at that time was working in bars in the tourist section of the town, which catered to American tourists. Most of the other waiters were Mexicans who had been deported from the US, or American criminals on the run. Our son has no criminal record and was there out of choice, and nobody who knew he was born in the US could understand why.
My son does not drink alcohol. He tried in high school and decided very early that it was not for him. He still went to parties and became popular as a designated driver. To this day he complains that people always give him pressure to have a drink. Anyway, he despised this bar environment with the drinking and the cigarette smoke and the obnoxious American tourists. He has been in sports all his life. We had him in soccer and swimming and karate and many years he played hockey while we lived for 10 years in my hometown in Washington state. In junior high he took wrestling, and then got into grappling and kickboxing. The guy is in superb physical shape.
When he went to Ensenada he asked around about kickboxing and was told the best place in town was at a gym run by a local guy ¨Jose¨ who then and currently holds the world title for kickboxing in his weight class. My son joined the gym and became a very good competitor in MMA-- mixed martial arts. Jose also rented our son an apartment nearby. All our son did for a couple years was work in the bar and go to the gym.
When he decided that he wanted to go to college again and take physical ed, we began to provide financial support so he could quit his job. He did great in school and became relatively pleasant to be around. We both were still working in San Diego, and we visited him every other weekend or so.
Around 2008 I think, son decided he would like to move to Guadalajara, where my husband was born and where most of his relatives still live. We as a family had visited Guadalajara many times over the years and our son knows all of his aunts, uncles and cousins. Son asked his dad to ask one of his relatives to take him in for a short time until he could find a job, get into school and get settled on his own. Now, over the years we had taken in various of their children for periods of time, so we felt comfortable asking for this favor. We told them we did not expect them to coddle him, but just help him out for a short time and get him on his way.
One of our nephews, Juan, who had stayed in our home in the US for weeks in the past when he needed a hand, had told our son he would have a job lined up for him, no problem, and that son could stay at his place, no problem . . . . when son arrived in Guadalajara, Juan was not there to pick him up as promised. Instead another girl cousin Andrea, same age as our son, who had spent a summer at our house as a guest when she was 13, had been dispatched to pick him up, which she did very resentfully. Juan´s offers were withdrawn, sorry about that. ..... no reason given.
So from the US we got on the phone and had to plead with one of my husband's sisters, whose son Luis had also stayed with us for several weeks in the past when he was running from trouble, to take our son in. He stayed with them a few days, they gave him a job at one of the family's many restaurant/bars and rented one of their many family-owned apartments to him.
For a while, all was well. Son was happily employed and trying to do a great job, getting along fine with his cousin Luis, making friends, looking into getting back into school, wanting to get his degree.
Son came down with scabies, and if you know anything about that infestation, it can literally drive a person crazy. He would call me at night because he could not sleep. These critters are most active at night when the host person is trying to be at rest. He had been to a doctor but the problem was not correctly diagnosed and the treatment was not helping. He told me that his cousin Luis would not give him time off to go to the doctor.
I got on a plane and went to visit my son. He was still working every day. Part of his job was to pick up pots of food everyday at one of the restaurants and deliver it to several others, and while at each restaurant he had to check on restrooms, inventory supplies and check the previous day's accounts. I accompanied him on his rounds for the week I was there. I also went with him to another doctor, a dermatologist, and got him the right medicines which eventually took care of the scabies.
During the week that I was there with my son, his cousin Luis was on vacation at the beach. I was with my son when Luis called him on the phone and accused him of goofing off instead of having done his rounds at all the restaurants, as some employee had alleged and told Luis. My son told Luis that was not true. I was witness that my son had indeed appeared at all the places he was supposed to, and that he had not taken time off the job at all to entertain me, but Luis did not believe him. I was tempted to jump in and vouch for my son, but I resisted this temptation. I realized this would do more harm than good. I just let him handle it. Eventually the two guys agreed to part company. I never asked Luis what the other side of the story was. I know my son is no angel, but I was witness to certain elements of the story, and I firmly believe that my son was given the shaft. I believe that Luis may have found my son to be a rival for attention of some of the female patrons at the restaurant. And many family relationships were damaged in the wake. Lots of things swept under the rug. Now that we live in Guadalajara, we have seen Luis at several family events, and he no longer looks me in the eye. We used to be buds when he was a kid. anyway . . . .
So, my son was out of a job and still had rent to pay, and so he hustled up and got himself into a college to learn business, and got back into going to the gym, which he had not done since he had arrived in Guadalajara about a year before. We agreed to support him financially in this. He did well in his courses and loved the material, and learned a lot.
Our daughter, who was living with us in San Diego, had met a Mexican guy who lives in Mexico and was on a vacation trip to San Diego. They started a long distance phone relationship while she was in college in SD. Each traveled to visit with each other several times. The boyfriend was in our home several times. He is an electronic engineer with a good job and we liked him very much. Eventually she moved to his hometown and got enrolled in a university there to finish her studies.
So with both of our kids now living in Mexico, although in different cities, it was a no-brainer for us to decide to retire there. I threw myself a big retirement bash in San Diego in August of 2010. Both of my kids flew up and attended, and despite my fears that the two of them would have an altercation like so many many many other times, they behaved civilly toward each other, posed for pictures and everything. My dearest brother, who had been my son´s good buddy forever, but had had a falling out with him a few years ago, was also there. Much to my surprise and relief and joy, my son and my brother had conversations and seemed to have patched up whatever problems they had.
My daughter and her boyfriend secretly got married on the morning of my party, and told us about it the next day. She and I had been sort-of planning a wedding for months. I feel sure that she did it this way in large part because she did not want to have to involve her brother in a wedding. Anyway . . . . .
So my husband and I decided to rent out our house in San Diego and go live in Guadalajara and help our son start his own gym. We agreed to let him live with us for one year, provide for all his needs as he got started, and we loaned him money rent a place and equip it. His dad did a lot of work at the gym, and I took care of the house, the meals, the laundry for him and his friend/roommate/fellow MMA practitioner. Lots of the time things were great as far as family relationships. He showed appreciation for our help, but eventually he and his dad had their altercations and I as usual tried to be the referee . . . . I know this is all pathetic and dysfunctional, but when you are in the middle of the hurricane it is hard to find your way out without getting battered. And here I stay stuck.
So the gym is going great. Son has done well, and is proud of his success, and thanks me often for my help. Son works very hard for many hours-- opens in the morning 8 am, does three classes, closes for middday, opens up again at 4 pm and closes at 11 pm. I got breakfast ready at 7, sometimes served lunch to them if they did not stay at the gym to clean and sleep, and then had dinner ready when they came home at 11:30 or midnight. The quantity of food and laundry involved here would blow your mind. Dad also continued to do maintenance and improvements at the gym.
The year was up in February of 2012, and my husband said let´s go. With my husband´s sister and her husband, who are godparents of our daughter, we rented a house on the shore of Lake Chapala. (We have since moved to our own place nearby.) When our son found out, he had a tantrum. He and my husband had many fights. I had many futile arguments with son as well as husband. I struggle to appease them both. I have been trying to gradually wean my son from my services. Things have been up and down all this time, some peaceful periods and some blowups.
For the last several months I have spent 2 or 3 days a week at my son´s. I hired a lady to come clean one day a week, while I get all the laundry done and stock their fridge with food, and cook up some easy to heat up meals for them to do by themselves. I get lots of appreciation, but I also get complaints that I am not there enough, that he needs my support, and the good food, that when he eats out it costs him more and he is not as well nourished and he frequently gets stomach problems, which is all true. He had a cow about me having a cleaning lady because he does not like strangers in the house, and because it is shameful to exploit poor Mexicans and perpetuate a corrupt system, and besides he and his buddy will do the chores. Their idea of clean, at the house at least, is disgusting. The gym, however, is clean because he has a couple of students there doing cleaning because they can´t afford to pay for their gym memberships. How this is different from me hiring a housecleaner, who I pay twice the amount she asked for and give tons of stuff to (like my sewing machine), I do not know.
By the way, the house he lives in is rented under my husband´s name, and we are on the hook for the rent. My son and his roommate were living there for free until about 6 months ago when we agreed that they were doing well enough to start paying rent. Also, a lot of our stuff is stored at that house. The boys pay me rent, but in reality, what they give me does not even begin to cover the food they consume. Yes, things are way out of balance here.
I am going to take a recess here and let you chew on all this before continuing. I am in deep, and want to get out of this jam.
I know that my son will walk away from ME, storm off and not talk, which I would be okay with, except I don´t want to let him walk away from the rent he needs to pay on the house he lives in, as well as the damage that was caused by him and his dogs that will have to be repaired before vacating. The lease will expire this coming September. I want to tell him that he has to take care of those responsibilities, that he cannot just storm out and be gone.
I look forward to your input. To be continued.