I can recall going to see my doctor and asking him a question during my checkup.
I wanted to know his opinion about me possibly marrying a woman much younger than I.
I respected him, because besides being an excellent doctor he was also a regular guy.
Over the years I had been using him as my doctor, we had had many good conversations without the doctor patient thing getting in the way.
On one particular visit he had asked me how things were going, and I replied that growing old was the shits.
Without batting an eye, he responded, “Well, it is a privilege that some people do not get to experience.”
There was no need for me to comment any further.
So, when I asked him the marrying question, I was very interested to hear his response.
It was quick and to the point (as usual).
“Nothing wrong with it. Many men do and they usually don’t regret it.”
I felt a glow of relief… but then he queried: “Does she have any children?”
“Yes.” I replied. “She has a nine year old boy.”
“That could be a problem,” he said, moving the stethoscope over my chest without missing a beat.
I did not respond to his remark. Instead I tried to think of why he would say that.
Would having a stepson put a strain on my relationship?
A few months later I married the woman in question.
The stepson turned out fine and was certainly not an impediment to my marriage.
However, as he approached senior high school, we began to see a change in him that was concerning.
He was becoming withdrawn. He had no friends and avoided going out.
Over the next 10 years, my wife and I tried many things to entice him out of his shell. But it was to no avail.
He bounced from job to job. Left home and then returned, only to continue his existence as a recluse.
To say that his behavior was frustrating would be an understatement. My wife fretted over him day after day, and often we would argue over the proper way to deal with him.
It was during these times that I reflected back to my doctor’s comment—was it coming to fruition all these years later?
The boy was not a problem around the house. He was quiet. Clean to the point of being OCD, and very polite.
The problem was he just lacked motivation. He shunned monetary gain and only worked enough to pay his way. He had no interests other than video games and movies.
A job was just that—a job—something to be despised but necessary if one is to have enough money to live.
The wife and I read and consulted until we felt we could do no more. It was a conundrum.
We felt he had some sort of disorder, but he refused assessment or treatment.
The only time he would go out was to either get groceries or have a haircut. He ordered all his clothing online.
We tried to coax him out with us, but he always used his standard answer: “No”.
Such was our predicament until one Saturday morning.
I was making my first cup of coffee when I turned to the rustle of someone coming down the stairs.
It was him! Dressed in fine clothing I did not know he owned. The leather jacket was obviously new.
I was in shock but managed to ask him where he was going.
He responded that he was going to Karaoke.
I twitched a little and recalled that when he was younger, he loved being taken to Karaoke where he would sing for hours on end.
I smiled and congratulated him on his decision to go out.
The wife and I were ecstatic! He had gone out—on his own!!!
He returned several hours later, and we asked him how it had gone. He replied “Fine” and went up to his room… well… at least he had gone out.
This Saturday ritual continued for a number of weeks. During this time, we noticed he was showing signs of coming out of his shell. We congratulated ourselves for finally getting our son on the road to a normal life.
I was self-congratulating this particular Saturday morning when the young man came down, dressed in his usual sartorial splendor. However, instead of heading directly to the door, he approached me.
I tried not to look taken aback and flashed my best fake smile.
He stopped just at the edge of my personal space and said:
“I have to tell you something.”
“I haven’t been truthful to you.”
“Oh?” I replied. “In what way?”
“Well, I have not been going to Karaoke.”
“Oh? Where have you been going?”
He paused. He was obviously having difficulty getting it out.
“I’ve been seeing a prostitute.”
To this very day I am still amazed by my response. Amazed because I congratulated him.
It never entered my mind to chastise him for lying to his mother and me. It never entered my mind to express horror at what he had been doing.
I congratulated him—no second thoughts—no regrets.
And, as he walked out for Karaoke, I wondered why I had never read about this method of dealing with adult children at home.