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Next morning Sean and I were up at 9. After breakfast, he went upstairs to shower and get ready for the family gathering. Most of the rest of the morning I was treated to a fashion show, as Sean decided that the new sweater maybe didn’t go quite as well with what he had picked out yesterday as he thought. It was déja vu, as this was what my girls did when they were living at home. I thought that this type of behaviour was reserved for the female of the species, but apparently I was wrong.
In the late morning, Dana arrived to start preparing the meal and appetizers. She also brought her youngest daughter Susan, who sometimes helped her out with catering jobs on the weekend. She was a friend of my youngest daughter Carol and worked full time but supplemented her income helping her mom.
“I love your kitchen Al,” Dana said with a big smile. “This 6 burner gas stove and these double convection ovens make meal preparation easy, especially when I’m cooking for such a large group.”
Sean asked if he could help, and Dana gladly gave him some of the food prep to do. I was very glad, as he was driving me crazy with all the indecision over his wardrobe, and this would occupy him with something useful.
My girls arrived about 2 in the afternoon, as I wanted to go over some Foundation business with them and let them get to know Sean before everyone else arrived. Even though Katie wasn’t officially involved she frequently gave marketing advice on different aspects of our business. Katie, her significant other Marty and Carol drove together, as they lived a few minutes from each other in the large city 70 kilometres away.
Both girls gave Sean a big hug when they came in the front door. Sean smiled, but blushed. I knew he like what he saw, as he couldn’t keep his eyes off of them.
“So Dad, why didn’t you tell us he was a hotty,” Katie said with a big smile as she looked at Sean.
“Yeah, and where were you 14 years ago when I lived here,” Carol said smiling as she eyed him up and down.
Now the blush turned to beet red, and Sean smiled as he dropped his eyes to the floor. The girls put their arms around him and led him into the living room as they chatted him up.
We all sat for about a half an hour talking, as the girls and Marty got to know Sean. He was able to participate in the conversation without some of the shyness he had showed over the last week.
Carol, Katie and I excused ourselves and went to the Den while Marty and Sean went downstairs to play on the Playstation. We were just finishing up our business and I noticed the two girls glancing at each other.
“Dad, what are your intentions for Sean?” Katie said out of the blue. “Katharine said you were unsure about whether you were going to adopt him or not.”
I was a little taken aback at the words ‘your intentions for Sean’ as those were the words I wanted to use with her boyfriend Marty, but have resisted doing so.
“Well I just don’t know if it’s fair at my age to make that type of commitment to him,” I said in a very shaky voice.
“Dad, we can see that you love him as much as you love us,” Carol said.
“And he loves you just as much,” Katie added. “We can see that in the short time we’ve seen the two of you together. Dad wake up and do the right thing. Carol and I haven’t seen you this alive since Mom died.”
How things change. Here were my two babies acting as my parents. I was a little annoyed at their frankness, as I felt that I was being unfairly pressured. They were of course right, and I just couldn’t continue to deny that this was indeed what I needed and wanted to do. My annoyance quickly changed and I became very emotional. They came over and put their arms around me in a group hug.
“You’re right girls, Katharine and I will talk this week. I can't promise anything, but I will definitely do a lot of thinking about this,” I said with a lot of emotion in my voice.
They both gave me a bit of a scowling look, as that was not what they wanted to hear from me. They weren't at all happy with my indecision.
I composed myself, and we went down to the media room to join Marty and Sean.
About 4:00 everyone seemed to arrive together; Katharine her husband Joe and kids Alana and John, my other niece Janet, her husband Bob and her kids Rachel and Derek, my sister Maryanne and Lorraine's brother David and wife Rebekka. My sister was very affectionate with Sean, which I was very pleased with.
“Come here young man and let your aunt Maryanne give you a big hug and kiss,” she said with a big smile on her face.
Sean’s face had just turned back to it’s natural colour after his other aunt Rebekka had fussed over him and now it was back to crimson red. I think he was getting a little used to it, as he didn’t hang his head down in his usual bashful routine.
We all went into the living room, where I had used dining room chairs to augment the seating. My grandniece Alana and my two GrandNephews John and Derek went down to the media room to play on the playstation. My grandniece Rachel however, stayed up with the adults and Sean. It was obvious with the looks Sean and Rachel were giving each other that there was some mutual attraction there.
We chatted together, and brought each other up-to-date on our busy lives. Sean and Rachel were able to participate in the conversation, when they weren’t looking at each other. Everyone seemed very interested in Sean and were very positive in their conversations with him. They also were very careful in what they said, as I had briefed them on his background.
About 4:30 Dana and Susan brought out the appetizers. She had made some new ones I hadn’t seen before, and I particularly liked the Provolone Prosciutto Packets that she made. The guys had beer (Stella of course) and the women had red and white wine. After a few rounds of appetizers, Sean and Rachel joined the younger kids downstairs. I was sure at this point we didn’t need a chaperone. Even Rachel’s somewhat protective mother Janet seemed to agree, as she made no move to join them downstairs.
After a few minutes, Katharine and I broke away from the group, and went into my den. After what the girls had said to me I wanted to talk to her.
“My girls just gave me an ultimatum earlier Katharine about adopting Sean. I’m still not sure that’s the best thing for either of us, but I think I need to do some real soul searching this week,” I said.
I asked her to outline what the process would be if I did agree to adopt him, and she went over everything with me.
“I know the investigation of you will be a piece of cake, given your track record with your girls and your financial position,” she said with a smile.
We went back into the living room, and by now we were being called to the table by Dana and Susan.
Supper was wonderful as Dana outdid herself. She started with a Lemony Lentil and Arugula salad followed by the main course of Roasted Turkey Rouladen, with Ginger Carrots, Broccoli done in a Stilton Cheese sauce and Parisienne potatoes done in garlic. For dessert, she made Raspberry Crème Brûlée. Even Sean was stuffed after this feast. The kids (except Sean and Rachel) had something more appropriate, and ate in the kitchen as there wasn’t enough room in the dining room table.
Dana and Susan had cleaned up and left shortly after 8. The rest of us sat around after supper, and everyone left about 9 P.M. Again, Sean was showered with hugs and kisses as the women fussed over him.
My sister softly said in my ear as she hugged me on the way out, “You take care of that young man. He’s a treasure, and he loves you very much. It’s obvious to all of us.”
Sean and I were both tired, but very happy at the day’s events. We got ready for bed and I went into his room to tuck him in.
“Did you have a good time today young man?” I asked with a smile.
“Yeah Pop, I really did. Your family is neat,” he said.
“Our family Sean, you’re a part of it now,” I reminded him.
I noticed he had a funny reaction to that statement, but I didn’t pursue it.
“I also noticed you and Rachel got along very well,” I said with a wry smile.
“Yeah pop, she was real neat. I almost forgot she was a girl, cause she was easy to talk to,” he said with his customary tinge of red on his face.
“I guess I hit the blush button again didn’t I young man,” I said as I smiled. “Good night buddy, I love you.” I said as I leaned down and kissed his forehead.
“Good night pop, I love you too.”
I had slept in a little later than I usually did on Sunday, as the family gathering had taken a lot out of me. Things had gone very well, and everyone had done a great job of welcoming Sean into the family and making him feel at ease. When he had relaxed and settled down after his initial nervousness, he enjoyed the company and the attention. I was very proud of him the way he was able to overcome his anxiety and participate in the festivities.
I walked down the hall and looked into Sean's room expecting to see him sound asleep, as he was never up before I was. As a matter of fact, he was a little hard to get going in the morning, and I usually struggled getting him up and moving. I was surprised when I saw the bed made and no Sean in it.
I went downstairs and I heard some noise coming out of the laundry room. As I entered, I saw Sean at the washing machine putting his sheets into it.
"My goodness, what are you doing Sean?"
As I stepped closer to him he backed away into the corner of the room. He covered his face with his hands and slumped down and started to cry.
"What's the matter Sean?" I said with a puzzled tone to my voice.
I didn't get a response, and the sobbing got a little louder.
"Please help me understand Sean? I can't help you if I don't know what's wrong."
I sat down beside him and put my arm around him. I held him for a couple of minutes, and finally he calmed down.
"I peed the bed, and I didn't want you to find out. I didn't want you to be mad at me, so I was gonna wash my sheets and stuff before you found out," he said in a feeble voice.
By now he had removed his hands from his face and I could see his red eyes and tear stained face. The poor little guy had quite a crying fit.
"Sean, it was an accident, and I'm not mad at you. Let me put the washer on and you go into the kitchen and start breakfast. I'll be a couple of minutes here."
He went into the kitchen and as I put the laundry detergent into the washing machine I noticed that along with the sheets he had put his pyjamas in as well. I also thought something was odd as they didn't smell of urine as I expected. I picked out the dark pyjama bottoms and I noticed a large whitish stain with a familiar distinctive odour. I instantly realized that Sean had had a wet dream, not peed the bed. I guess my grandniece had made an impression on him.
I knew what we were going to be doing after breakfast, and I wasn't relishing the thought of having a father-son talk about the birds and the bees. This was something I had avoided with my girls, as Lorraine took control of that task. I also knew, that no matter how uncomfortable I felt about it, I owed it to Sean to be a responsible parent and give him the information he needed to know.
Both of us were fairly quiet during breakfast; Sean because he was embarrassed and me because I was trying to rehearse what I was going to say to him.
"You're mad at me, aren't you pop?"
"No I'm not Sean, I've just got something on my mind. I'm sorry if you thought I was blaming you."
After we finished up breakfast, we cleaned up and put on the dishwasher.
"Let's go into the living room Sean, we need to have a talk."
We sat down on the couch, and I put my arm around him and pulled him close to me. He was a little stiff, and I knew he still thought he was in trouble.
"Sean, you didn't pee the bed last night, you had a wet dream," I said. He looked at me with a very puzzled look on his face.
"What do you mean a wet dream?"
I then went into a long fumbling clinical explanation about male anatomy and sexuality, and Sean clearly knew I was uncomfortable. He finally broke away from our cuddle and looked at me.
"Do you mean like when you fool around and stuff?" he said as he blushed.
"So why didn't you tell me you knew all about this before I made a complete blithering idiot of myself?" I said with an exasperated tone to my voice.
"I wasn't never sposed to do that cause it's dirty, that's what my mom said. She caught me once and she hit me. I didn't know that's what was supposed to happen when... you know... that feeling happens," he said as he blushed and looked down at his feet.
"Sean it's not dirty, every male past puberty does it," I reassured him. "So you've masturbated and had an orgasm before, but it was dry?" I asked.
"I don't know what you're talking about with all those big words pop. All I know is when I got the feeling before, nothin came out," he said matter of factly.
His comments brought me down to earth, and I said, "Let's start again Sean. Also, maybe you could concentrate a little more on correct grammar and I'll try to do a better job explaining any terms you don't understand."
We talked for about an hour and had a frank discussion about more than just the mechanics of sex. We got into feelings, physical and emotional maturity, sexual orientation, puberty and all the topics my father was too embarrassed to talk to me about. We both were relaxed after we had calmed down and had a very natural conversation as it should have been.
"So do you feel better now young man?" I asked.
"I do pop, do you?" He said with a big grin.
He was a very perceptive young fellow. I hoped that in the future when we needed to have frank discussions that they would go as well as this one had.
"Let's go get you a box of Kleenex for your bedroom young man, I think you're going to need it."
The rest of the morning and afternoon were fairly uneventful from an emotional point of view. We went to the mall and picked up some more clothing and games for his playstaion. We stopped in at the Tim Horton's and had some lunch, and stopped by the grocery store to get some needed things and something for dinner.
Sean pitched in willingly with supper, and he was becoming a real help doing what we call in the restaurant industry food prep. I also was teaching him a lot about nutrition. This was something that became more important to me after my Prostate Cancer treament, as I was determined to do everything I could to make sure my cancer didn't return. I had beef once a week, lots of fruits and vegetables and lots of chicken and fish. As well, I didn't buy or drink pop, which was something Sean was reluctantly getting used to. I also avoided using white sugar where possible, or a lot of salt.
We had a meal consisting of Salmon steaks done on the BBQ (which in February in Canada necessitated a very warm coat) , Green beans with almonds, peas and carrots and a tossed salad made with a mesculun mix of greens. Now that Sean was with me, I made an extra effort to make sure I included healthy amounts of protein in each meal.
"What flavour of frozen yogurt do you want with your fresh fruit?" I asked.
"How about one of each pop," he said with a wry grin.
After we cleaned up Sean went downstairs to the media room, and I went into the den to do some work. I emailed Scott about the Wet Dream incident, as I thought he should know for tomorrow’s appointment. About 9:30 I went down to see what Sean was doing and to chase him upstairs to get ready for bed. As I went down the stairs I thought I heard sobbing. As I got to the bottom, the noise became a little louder. When he heard me coming toward him he buried his face in his hands and curled himself up into a ball in the corner of the couch.
"Sean, what's the matter?" I asked softly. I sat down beside him and put my hand on his shoulder. He didn't answer, but continued to cry softly, so I asked again, but this time I pulled him into me and put my arms around him.
We sat like that for about a minute, and finally I said, "Are you unhappy at something I did, Sean?" Again no answer, but he did shake his head no.
"Can you tell me what's the matter young fellow?"
"I don't know what's the matter," he said in a shaky voice.
It was now becoming clearer to me what the source of some of Sean's behaviour was; such as his emotional roller coaster, his difficulty getting up in the morning and the times when he quickly spiraled down into the depths of despair for no reason. He was depressed.
Unfortunately I had experience with this as my older daughter Katie had a brief bout with this early in adolescence. We were able to overcome this without medication and some sessions with Phil, and to this day she hasn't had any recurring bouts.
"Do you just feel overwhelmed Sean?" I asked.
"Yes," he said with a feeble voice.
"You're alright Sean, I'm here to help you. You've had a great weekend, everyone in the family loves you, and you're making great progress with your studies. You have a lot of positive things in your life, and a lot more positive things to come in the future. You also have an old fart who loves you very much. How about you turn off the tears and we go upstairs and get you some nice hot chocolate and you'll feel better."
He reluctantly let out a little chuckle when I made the old fart remark, and the tears finally dried up. We got him cleaned up and he finished his hot chocolate and went upstairs to get ready for bed. I knew what Phil was going to be talking about tomorrow with him, and I would email him as well when I got Sean into bed. I was also nervous about Sean sleeping by himself as I didn't know if there was a suicide risk or not, so I decided he would sleep with me.
I waited outside the bathroom for him to finish and when he came out I said, "How about you sleep with me tonight in my bed Sean."
"I'm Ok now pop, I can sleep in my bed," he replied with a voice that was not very convincing.
"I'd feel a lot better if you were with me tonight Sean. Why don't we get you set up. I promise I won't wake you when I come to bed later."
He agreed, and I could tell by the little resistance he put up about my idea that he was glad to have company tonight while he slept.
I tucked him in and sat on the bed.
"Are you feeling a little better Sean?"
"Yeah pop," he said as he sighed.
I rubbed his arm for a few seconds, leaned down and kissed him on the forehead.
"Goodnight Sean. I'll be up later, and I'll be right beside you tonight, so please try to relax. I love you."
"Thanks pop...I love you too."
I went downstairs and crafted my email of the observations of Sean's behaviour for Phil next day. I knew from my past experience what was important to include and how to phrase it. I was also positive that I could deal with this and help Sean overcome his difficulty. What I wasn't sure about was how long it would take. Some of this I knew was coming from the recent events in his life, but what I didn't know was how much was coming from past events.
I knew from studies and reports on Childrens' mental health issues that 1 in 5 children in Canada suffer from some type of mental health problem. It ranges from anxiety, depression, attention-deficit to bipolarism. The key to overcoming this was early diagnosis and treatment. I was hoping that we were not too late, but I'm sure Phil would be able to enlighten me more after a few more sessions.
I quietly got ready for bed and gingerly slipped into bed. He didn't waken and I could tell by his breathing that he was in a deep sleep. I was hoping that he would remain like that until morning.