The Grumpy Old Man and I went and saw a lawyer yesterday, just to be clear on our right and responsibilities in a situation where we are no longer our son's carers, but are still his guardians. I'm sure in his head, this is just about him moving out to get more freedom of choice - ironically, at least as far as school goes, the choices are still not his and not his carer's either - but the ripple effect here at home is huge.
I have just submitted the intermission application form to the university with the permission of my supervisors. So, my degree has been suspended. We need to contact the school and let them know Erik is no longer living with us, and that we can no longer afford to pay his school fees since losing the family tax benefit - they will need to make arrangements with his new carer. We will likely give our permission for him to change classes if that is possible as we'd already decided to do that before he left, anyway, and I had already spoken with one of the assistant principals about beginning that dialogue. I will seek some sort of assisted conference with the staff, the GOM, myself, Erik and his new carer to arrange things like parent-teacher conferences, reports and so on. Despite being unable to pay school fees and materials, we are still allowed access to his reports and his teachers to see how he is going. Obviously, his carer will need access to his compass, but I still want to be able to see that as well, to see that he is attending school and classes. At least until he turns 17.
He needs to get his own medicare card because he doesn't have access to ours and he will need it for his skin condition and eyes at the very least.
We found out that because there is only a sixteen month age gap between him and his girlfriend, he cannot be charged with statutory rape if their relationship is physical - that was a huge weight off our shoulders. Now we can only hope he at least filed away all the information about sexual hygiene I know was imparted to him by us.
I wonder what his carer will make of his unvaccinated status. He has had the choice to get vaccinations for a few years now, but hasn't taken up that choice. If she claims family tax benefit for him to help with costs, she will not be eligible for the end of financial year bonus because he is unvaccinated.
My main focus now, though is not on him. He has chosen to move out and there is nothing we can do about that. In the eyes of the law he has autonomy. He is safe and he is happy.
I have to focus on the well being of the rest of my family now. The GOM is terribly upset about this whole situation. He feels so deeply hurt, he keeps saying he may never recover. I worry about how the tension of this situation will impact his long term health, particularly his blood pressure. The boys, mostly Bryn and Ari, are acting out in their own ways, so we're working with them to reassure them Erik is okay, and so are they. Lukas has been so mature and level headed through this entire week, endlessly helpful and kind. He was already showing a leap in maturity in the second half of last year, but has stepped it up to another level this last week. We have to be careful that he doesn't take on too much responsibility for supporting everyone else, because one day it might become too much for him.
Today we went out to The Pancake Parlour to get out of the house and do something fun. Being the middle of the day on a Thursday, it was really quiet. We had a good time. There has been a significant drop in arguments and aggression in the house this week and it is quite noticeable.
We had a laugh at Harlem going from being a labrador when we arrived to being a sausage dog when we left.
In order to accept this new situation (accept that Erik is serious about this - he did take ALL his stuff, even the headphones he had let his father use for the past year because he had three others, he got a new phone and changed his number, he seems pretty determined - to respect that) we started the process of rearranging the house to suit the new family situation here. Lukas is now back in his old room. He has been given the second TV as it was in a sort of rumpus area down in the garage, and no one is living downstairs now. Lukas is the only person in the house who plays on the playstation 4 at the moment - the little boys don't have any games for that console, and they also have the PS3 and the Wii to keep them occupied in the lounge room. Lukas is pretty happy with his set up, I have to say. It feels good to do something nice for him in light of how great he has been this last week, too.
I'm going to set up what was Erik's room as a guest room for when my brother, or dad, or other guests come to stay, and then the space in the garage where the blue lounge and the TV and consoles were will become a sort of paint studio. While I'm intermitting, I'm going to get back into painting. I still owe my brother a star scape from two Christmases ago, so I'm going to do that first up.
Poor Harlem is all out of sorts. I would also say he was reacting to the stress here at home as well, but then I think I might just be anthropomorphising him. On Monday and Tuesday he vomited and had to go on plain chicken and rice for a few meals. He has not left my side, which is not unusual as such, but now he seems to want to be in physical contact all the time.
Another reason for this change in demeanour might be that his routine has been put all out of sorts. He not given the tasks of finding the grass, or the lift, or the office, as he is used to doing every day, so he's probably all at sixes and sevenses, poor boy.
So, April is going to be all about getting us all back on an even keel and letting Erik go until he is ready to come back, if he ever is. It is not that we don't love him. We all love him. It is just that loving him was not enough for him, and we can't force him to come home or to interact with us if that is the case.