Quote of the Week

"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Max and Mels Terrible Adventure
Posted by:Sally--Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Our younger son, David, is 14 1/2. He was always a kid with lots of nice friends, kids with involved parents. Even as he moved from elementary school to middle school, the friends he chose always seemed to have a home with a parent who was paying attention......

With a cell and house number I could (and did) call. He played lots of sports: was on 2 baseball and 2 basketball teams. Was the star pitcher. Was a pretty good golfer. He was a "sought after playmate" according to teachers. He was always having friends over, meeting them at the field for games, going to summer camp, ect. All parents whose homes he frequented told me what a great kid he was - always a pleasure and always welcome. School was a slightly different matter; he was diagnosed with ADHD as a young kid, and as having mild dyslexia in about 3rd grade. Because of this, school was always difficult & stressful. I have had hired tutors for him for after school support since 1st grade, and he always responded well to them, and did better because of them. Homework was always a hassle, for the aforementioned reasons. Because of these issues, and because of David's older brother Michael's poor experience with the public high school, we decided last year that a boarding school would be the best option for David's high school. We planned to find one that provided built in academic support for his learning needs, and some built in behavior modification for his somewhat oppositional demeanor. This is still in the works...

Max and Mel's Terrible Adventure, Part II

My husband Mel, son Michael and I were sitting at dinner one night at the beginning of this school year, last fall. David was to be home for dinner, but was late (again) - he had been not coming home for dinner more and more lately. He also had a new crew of friends that Mel and I weren't too thrilled with. They were from a different neighborhood, and from homes that suddenly didn't have numbers that anyone would hand out. The parents didn't seem to care if they met me or knew who I was. We had been talking to David about this, and tried to encourage him to reconnect with some other friends, while understanding a teen's need to try new people, and not be told with whom they can hang out. The phone rings. It's Officer Jones saying he has David in the squad car, that he was high, that he had confiscated marijuana from his possession. I drove to the exact house in the exact neighborhood that I knew this took place. Was told we would be receiving something in the mail. Took David home, screaming my lungs out at him all the way - not the best choice, I now know, but the only thing I could think of at the moment. We grounded him. Took away his telephone. Forbid him to hang out with these undesirable friends...we did our best to sit on him, punish him, limit him socially. David didn't seem to be as rattled about this incident as I expected he would be. So my plan was, when we got something in the mail, I would jump in and make sure he got what he deserved. It seemed to take forever, but finally something arrived that happened to have Val Ketter's name on the letterhead. BINGO. I called and said "I need help with this kid -- he needs to be rattled - can we get him a PO or something, so he understands the seriousness of this situation?" And, that is how I found PSST. Not long after, Val hooked us up with David's PO, Larissa. Larissa is a tough woman, who made sure David knew that it would take her very little to send him to Shuman, which thankfully frightened him. She made David sign a contract to go to rehab at Gateway, to attend school, and to get periodic drug tests. He signed.

Max and Mel's Terrible Adventure, Part III

David went to one-on-one counseling for D & A at Gateway as instructed. He did not stop smoking Marijuana, as his test results clearly showed, so he was referred to the Adolescent program, 3 days per week, 3:30 - 7pm. He started skipping school with these newfound friends, hiding in my basement, breaking in through the basement window when they couldn't get in the house. Smoked pot in the house (out the window), left evidence around. I had him taken to the Magistrate for skipping. He was disrespectful to him, and was therefore given a double fine. Lost a text book for $100. Stole money from us. His accumulated debt, which started with fees incurred by the first incident, now hovers around $1000. We have given him lots of opportunities to work it off, but he refuses. Refuses to be grounded by us ("I don't care, I'm leaving anyway"). He has not played a sport, not even skateboarded. Doesn't want to go to camp this year. His oppositional behavior has become more pronounced, not adjusting his attitude for teachers, principles, magistrates and certainly not his parents. At Gateway, his THC counts rose. He is now considered "Partial", 3 days per week, 3:30 - 9pm,. Refuses to go to AA/NA meetings, which are required. On Wednesday the 24th, David informed me he was suspended from school the following day because he did not attend his after school detention (which, by the way, he received from accumulating several lunch detentions, those received because he either talked back to a teacher, disrupted the class, refused to pull up his jeans, etc). I said he was officially grounded at that time through the day of his suspension. He said "no I'm NOT" , and jumped out of the car (not before asking me for money, to which I said "no") and slammed the door. Mel and I attended the family meeting at Gateway anyway, even though we knew he wasn't going to be there, and discussed with the group our situation. Everyone in attendance - the therapists and other kids said, "he needs to be kicked out of the house, the locks changed, and not allowed back in unless he is willing to follow house rules." He simply hasn't had serious enough consequences to shake him up. Mel and I were ready - we had enough.

Max and Mel's Terrible Adventure: The Final Showdown

With the help of the PSST group and the very brave parents who came before us - along with the guidance and help of the great people at Gateway, we had our final showdown, last Thursday, March 25th. We could never, ever have done this without knowing others who have been through it as well, and lived to tell the tale.
David "came home for a shower" after staying out Wednesday night, even bringing with him his most egregious friend. We stopped him in his tracks and said - "We cannot tolerate your behavior and lack of cooperation any longer. You are no longer allowed in the house unless you plan to follow the house rules. Otherwise, if you go, be prepared to stay out. We are changing the locks today. If you break in, or try to break in, we will call the police". He left.
Even though we feel confident that we did the right thing, the best thing for him in the long run, we are sad, worried, and unsure of what to do next. We haven't seen nor spoken to him since last Thursday. We are hoping that he tires of running from house to house, and will want to come home. I am looking forward to some much needed support from anyone who has been there, done that - as well as talking it out this coming Saturday.

1 comment:

Sally said...

Thank you, Max and Mel, for sharing your story with us. I feel empathy for you as you sit and wait for your son to come around.
You have made the right decision. Your teenager must follow the house rules or feel the consequences. I know that doesn't make it any easier but hang in there. I am sure the PSST meeting this Saturday will be helpful to all of us. I wish resoluteness for you.


This layout (edited by Ken) made by and copyright cmbs.