Monday: my teenaged son’s friend (see Friend’s Indiscretion?) was texting in class at school and his cell phone was taken away by the teacher. The teacher who seized the phone takes the opportunity to read a few texts and notices discussion about drugs. The school’s zero tolerance to drugs is invoked and before the day is done the friend is expelled… no not suspended – expelled.
Tuesday: it’s our wedding anniversary. When we get back from dinner the expelled friend and another amigo are at our house. Later in the evening the amigo’s mother refuses to come and pick him up… he stays the night. He gets up in the morning and catches the bus to school – on his own. I have it from a fairly reliable source that the amigo is a pretty good student. Where did I go wrong.
Wednesday: I’m still upset because my teenaged son gave me a shove on Monday, still hasn’t done any math and thinks I should be apologizing to him. Oh, did I forget to mention the shove? Well the sh– has come so hot and fast this week I haven’t had a chance to blog, post or even collect my wits.
Thursday: Still no math and we learn that his other friend (see High Risk Friend) has not been at school for many weeks. To further complicate matters we also learn that this friend no longer answers text messages. But I’m not absolutely certain of that because my teenager has not had a phone to text him on since the shove on Monday. My wife and I attend at our son’s counsellor without our son, we’re at out wits end and need some encouragement. We are told that our parenting style is the big problem and here’s how we fix it. Thanks for the help.
Friday: Oh my god. It’s the weekend and now I can’t even go to work and hide for a few hours each day, still no math and I remind myself that it’s all my fault. It’s 8:00 pm and my teenage son is sleeping in his bedroom. If he wakes up maybe he’ll agree to do math. If he does it will likely be sometime between midnight and 3:30 am – for about five minutes. Of course there will be no advanced notice which five minutes he will be willing to do math. Just hang around… I’ll let you know.
Today was another difficult day. It was my teenage son’s day for counselling. The counselling sessions have been going on for awhile now. My wife and I attend as well. I drive there directly from my office. My son is picked up by this mother and the three of us meet at the hospital for the counselling session.
When they arrived they were both very upset. It was obvious that the ride to the hospital was less than pleasant. Our teenager was rudely telling his mother how much he hated counselling. That it was not doing him any good and he wasn’t going to attend any more. Nevertheless, we all went up stairs and managed to be civil to each other throughout the session. At the end of each session our son is required to give a urine sample. He decided that he would not comply. My response was, “Okay, give me your cell phone.” He immediately decided he would rather supply a sample.
After that he went with his mother, and I returned to work. Apparently, the ride back from the hospital for the two of them was infinitely worse than the ride to the hospital. There were several unplanned stops when the son was told to get out of the car and walk. He refused to do so. Eventually, she stopped, got out of the car and walked around the block herself. She rates this drive as one of the worst experiences of her life.
I had a late meeting at work so I didn’t get home until about two hours later than usual. Shortly afterwards I sat down with this same kid and did about 45 minutes of math. This kid catches on to math real fast. It was even enjoyable. Wow! What a crazy day. There are only two possibilities at the end of a day like this – cry or laugh. We laughed.
Today was the meeting with our son’s teachers. He is having difficulty with grade 10 math and will likely not have high enough marks to continue in the university entrance program in that subject. We were given the options he has to get back on track in that subject. It was a helpful meeting.
His options are to continue with his high school without the university requirement in math. He could then upgrade at college or university once he has completed grade 12. The other option is to redo his math this summer. He will have to do a half day of math every day for one month. If he gets 60% he can then continue his current math course next year in grade 11.
There are pros and cons to each of these options. I kind of like the one for the summer. It will give him something to do other than hang out with his friends, play video games or get into the marijuana. On the other hand you can lead a horse to water… but can I make my son learn math? A crystal ball, I don’t have.
Last year my teenage son took medication for his ADHD for the first few months while he was in grade 9. During that time he was doing very well in math. Eventually he refused to continue with the medication and stopped taking it. When he is not on his medication he has great difficulty focusing on math. Gradually his math mark began to drop until today, near the end of grade 10 it looks like he will not have a high enough mark to enter the grade 11 math.
He has a few options. He can go into a lower level of math in grade 11, but he will lose his university entrance option. He can take a summer course during July and hopefully to attain a mark that will allow him into the grade 11 course. Finally, he can wait until his has finished his grade twelve program and take an extra year of high school to upgrade. I suppose there is yet a further option to not worry about university entrance and ultimately not go to university.
We – my son, his mother and I – are going to have to make a decision within the next week as to whether we will try the summer math course option. If he takes that option we have to register him by May 8. that will mean he will have to attend school for half days for one month of his two month summer break. That is a serious commitment for a 16-year-old. The problem is that he believes he can still bring his mark up to a pass by the end of the year – that is doubtful.
PS: when I was in grade 10 I had to redo grade ten math. I did it by correspondence. I went on to compete a degree in Math and Science. So why am I panicked?
As I sit down to write this post I remind myself what it is I am trying to accomplish with this blog. A lot of things have happened since I posted yesterday – a lot of difficult things. I have thought about not putting any of it into the blog. I have thought about downplaying what happened or putting little bits of it in over several blogs. I worried about how my family may be perceived if I posted this. In the end I decided to post what happened and let things sort out as they may.
In yesterday’s post I mentioned that my wife and I were going to talk to our son about his marijuana use and ask him what he thought should be done about it. We did that and all seemed to go reasonably well. I went to bed at about 11:00 and was sound asleep at 1:30 when I woke up to my son screaming that he had just smashed his computer. That was the beginning of what would be several hours of attempting to deal with another tantrum. After about 20 minutes of screaming, throwing things around and amidst incredible stress in our house I decided to call the police. They came – all four of them. They talked to my son and to my wife and me. I was hoping they would take him to the hospital. He has carried on this way for a long time. His counsellor has recommended medication to help him control his anxiety but he has refused. In the end they informed my wife and me that they would not take him to the hospital, and they left. Eventually, we all managed to get back to sleep, and yes we all arrived at school and work at our usual times. After I had finished dropping him at school I was talking to my wife about the event. I reminded her that after the police left our son had said he would never come to me to discuss anything ever again. I chuckled and said, “Gee, I must have missed the discussion part while he was screaming f— at the top of his lungs.” We both laughed – the only other option was to cry.
Oh yes, I was reminding myself why I was blogging. I hoped it would help me cope with the stress – it does that. I also wanted to let others know that they are not alone in facing the difficult and painful times of shepherding a teenager into adulthood. If you have read all the way through this lengthy post and are having similar difficulties please know that you are not alone.
We had a call from the mother of one of K’s friends today. She had found a lot – and I mean a lot – of money in her son’s bedroom. Of course the first thing that came to her mind is that he is pushing drugs. I was not entirely in agreement. There is other ways an adolescent can come up with money – a lot of money. Both my wife and I knew that we had to ask K what was going on and whether he was involved. After dinner I went into K’s room. I started the conversation by suggesting that we have an agreement. I suggested that we agree we to tell each other the truth. If either of us are not ready to tell the truth we would simply say that we are not ready say any more. I told K that we had a call from his friend’s mother, and I told him about the money. I asked him if he knew. He said “No.” I asked him if his friend was pushing drugs. He said, “No.” I asked him if he knew where his friend got the money. His answer was uncommitted. I asked him if he was taking the option of not answering. He said, “Yeah.” I asked him if his friend was involved in anything illegal. He said, “No.” I told him that if his friend ever needed help he should let me know. That was the end of our conversation.
K is out again tonight hanging out with friends and getting something to eat. This is a nightly ritual on Saturdays. Go out with friends and then bring them home. He always asks first, we always say yes. It is better to have them here. In that way we know where they are. We know that they are safe. They are very quiet and seldom any trouble. For this I am thankful – I consider myself lucky. My teenager and his friends prefer my house.
Once again, the weekend is upon us. K and his friends are – as they call it – hanging out. Initially, he said he would be home by eight. Then he sent me a text asking if he could stay out until nine. He asked for the extension before it was time for him to be home and while he still had plenty of time to get home. Under those circumstances I was inclined to say yes. I would have given him permission to stay out until ten when he first left if he had asked for it. So, under the circumstances, it was really easy to say yes to the request. Oh my! What am I going to do if this level of maturity continues? Get a new blog?
I have always assumed that there are certain things children should not know about. Today I struggled with my rules for need to know. A few days ago it came to my attention that one of K’s friends has had some difficulty. This young fellow’s father has done a lot of drinking and is violent with him. His father has discussed the violence with both my wife and me on a couple of occasions. Today I decided that I would discuss this with my son. I was surprised to learn that he did not know anything about the drinking or the violence. We didn’t discuss this for very long, but I made it clear that if his friend ever needed help he should let me know. I assured K that I would do whatever I could to help his friend. I still struggle with the need to know issue.
The mid-year marks are in, and all are in fairly respectable territory. Except, that is, for math – what happened to math? That is his good subject. Is he rebelling against his teacher? Is he compromising math for his father’s sake? Maybe he thinks I need something to worry about and decided it may as well be math for a while. It’s very kind of him to think about me, to help me out even though it might compromise his future. What a kind son I have.