OT has been back at home for over a fortnight now and we are both working out our definition of normal.
I learned soon after meeting him two years ago that our versions of normality were very different. To me an average evening consisted of me getting dinner cooked while he played computer games upstairs; then a meal shared followed by watching a film together. What could be more normal? Well normal to who? After five years being pushed and shoved between his birth family, children's homes and secure estate I don't think OT even had an image of what was normal for him. Even coming to live in my quirky, one-woman-and-a-cat household must have felt like moving in with the Waltons.
Everyone has a different idea of what his normal should look like. His Probation Officer visited a few days ago and talked about getting him on his feet with a job and a place of his own. To most professionals moving a care leaver onto independent living at 21 is normal, it is the aim, by saying this he didn't intend to set off an attachment merry-go-round, he expected those to be the normal things that his client wanted to hear. OT is fortunate that I don't have a specific time frame in mind, he can move when it feels right for him, however that throwaway comment raised his anxiety levels a fair bit and he had to be reassured that this was so; that I understand that he is still enjoying the security of a home with me and that it is absolutely OK that he isn't ready to live alone yet.
OT desperately wants to be normal. For him this means having a job and a girlfriend. It also means telling people he lives with his auntie because explaining who I am marks him out as different. It involves playing football, getting drunk at weekends, making the occasional bad decision - not the ending up in a cell variety of bad decision but the regular, 20 year old, having a one night stand or getting drunk and not making it home kind.
Some of his choices worry me, a few make me nervous and others make me downright annoyed but I can't deny that his issues are now pretty much on the normal spectrum. For someone with his life experiences that's a pretty good achievement.