Charles had a lot of habits that were challenging.
He was a nonconformist to the max, a dreamer to a fault, pushed the envelope non-stop and was the most stubborn person I ever met in my life. When you have a child like this, you learn a lot about rolling with things and setting boundaries early. Not that boundaries ever inspired him to let up. It didn’t. But I held them for the sake of my own sanity.
It’s funny those habits that drove me the craziest are the memories I laugh the hardest about after his death by suicide. So here are a few of them which would just be scratching the surface.
1. Cooking at night
Charles was never hungry when anyone else was. He’d sit at the table at dinner and talk and rarely eat. He was a grazer. Even as a baby, he’d drink a little milk and then he was done. So around 1am or 2am, Charles would get hungry and cook. And burn. And set off smoke detectors. Or leave food out. Or fall asleep on the sofa with food in his lap.
2. Kept people up all night
Charles never slept well and could never get his fill of fun. It didn’t start in high school, it started at about age 3. He was always a night owl. And when people spent the night or he spent the night over, he’d keep everyone up all night. They’d often wake us up because Charles would be entertaining people and they’d be laughing.
Other parents didn’t relish having him over as a result because their kids would be cranky the next day and totally worthless. One time at Indian Guides, one of the Dads scolded Randy over his lack of control over getting Charles in his tent sleeping. So Randy looked at the Dad and told him he could probably do much better and went to the tent and went to bed. The next morning that Dad relented that he had not been able to accomplish anything with him.
3. Took him forever to pick out new shoes
He shopped for shoes like some people shop for a house. No one took longer. He never wanted expensive shoes, he just had to see all that existed. Decision making went back and forth, back and forth. As he got older, I thought I could go off and shop and he’d just call me when he had chosen something. But no! He wanted me as part of the process. He didn’t want my opinion, he just wanted me with him. Which in retrospect is pretty sweet.
4. He refused to learn to swim
Other mothers would smugly tell me they insisted their child take swimming lessons as if they had the magic touch and I simply wasn’t firm enough. I didn’t let that get to me. They didn’t have a Charles! When he was 4, he did the very basics and after that he was done forever.
The pool was cold at the times when lessons were offered so he wasn’t going in. I tried indoor pools, outdoor pools, heated pools. I probably spent $500 on swim lessons where he didn’t as much as stick a big toe in the water. For weeks, there Charles stood on the side of the pool refusing to go in no matter how much cajoling and bribing the lifeguard offered.
5. Never wanted to go to bed
I thought it was stubbornness but in his case it was that he simply didn’t fall asleep often tossing and turning for hours. I think from an early age, his brain was wired differently and it lit up at night. He would be jealous that others just went to bed and fell asleep
7. He hated needles
He was so needle-phobic that even when we needed to take a blood test, he screamed and yelled like a 4 year old. And this was when he was a teen. He had an irrational fear of them which made it really difficult at the doctors. While he suffered from a heroin addiction, he never used a needle and couldn’t watch someone using one. I naively thought his fear of needles would keep him from finding that drug.
8. Everything he did was a mess
Everything! If he was going to make tents, every single sheet would have to be used. Our house was punished for the sake of YouTube videos with fake blood and more.
9. Lost everything
His coat, his backpack, homework, books, lunch, clothing. The only things he’d go retrieve would be his phone and his earphones. Otherwise it was all expendable and replaceable.
10. He was relentless
When Charles wanted something, he didn’t give up. He’d come at it from multiple angles and develop all sorts of elaborate arguments. He’d have friends call to argue his angle, show me videos, make presentations that were hilarious. There was no such word as “no.” To him, no was an invitation to pitch something in a different way. He literally would argue some things for years.