Things may be cooling off with Evan a bit. I emailed the teacher he was having conflicts with. Evan thinks that I only asked for class handouts and that that alone made the teacher suddenly be nice. Actually, we exchanged quite a few emails. The teacher was sad to learn that though both he and Evan were enjoying the verbal debates it did sometimes go too far from Evan's perspective. He does still, by the way, blame the teacher for his poor grade in Political Philosophy. This in spite of the fact that he has an A from the same teacher in Economics, he has missed twice as many days in Pol. Phil., and doesn't do the Phil. reading.
Anyway, I am slipping from my original commitment and I don't know if I should. I had been saying that I was only going to worry about Evan's behavior with respect to the family. I was not going to get involved in trying to make him do his homework, get good grades, or even get a job. That was all supposed to be up to him. Now I find myself really tempted to tell him that I will only give him rides or let him use the internet if he finishes the paper or applies to a certain number of jobs. We had a conversation about that -- especially the job part. He really does not want me to impose restrictions on him and I think he understand the pressure I am under to do that very thing. I hope he pulls it together.
My house is just too much fun. The kids have so much gaming equipment; we own so many movies on DVD (which he can watch on my computer in his room). Perhaps with the next kid we should not initially allow them access to various fun stuff until they already have a job. I don't know that that will work though -- since Brian and Andrew have access.
Evan spent a good part of the weekend working his political philosophy paper. I helped him with an initial outline, and he wrote it. He asked Hubby to proof it. Hubby says it is okay. (I recommended that he ask Hubby. He did not have time to do a serious re-write and he did not want to hear about major re-write issues).
He is no longer talking about transferring. I am hoping that finding out he would have to buy his own bus pass along with his improved relationship with Mr. H are helping him re-commit to being here. I hope so anyway.
We had a talk about jobs. I think I at least convinced him that it was not a Beth and Brenda being pushy thing. It was part of the permanency program.
I explained that I was torn because on one hand I had said that I was only going to worry about home behavior with him. I was going to assume that he could handle school and job. He pointed out that I was suddenly very involved with school. I said that's right. When he has excessive absences, failing grades, or no job after two months, it becomes very difficult for me to do nothing. I told him that it occurred to me that I could make use of the cell phone, internet or rides to The City contingent on applying for jobs or turning in all his assignments.
He was pretty appalled at the idea. He told me that he did not respond well to that sort of program. I told him I understood that and that I really, really did not want to go there. On the other hand, if he was not trying to find a job it would be increasingly difficult for me to do nothing. I also pointed out that his getting a job was on the basic list of rules he had agreed to in the beginning.
Somewhere along the way he told me that he was not applying for jobs because he had skills (computer and cooking) and yet he did not believe that local employers would give him a chance to use them. He would be supervised by someone who knew less than he does -- they probably wouldn't even give him a job anyway. I pointed out that he had not turned in any applications and so he had not given them a chance. He asked if you would "get off our backs" if he was at least turning in applications. I said that if I could say that he was really trying but not finding a job it would help. (I did not tell him that if he applies to jobs he will almost certainly get one).
On a hunch, I told him that I knew some gay college students who had worked at grocery store and that they reported that it was a safe environment. He seemed interested and said he would apply there.
I think the first thing we need to do though is get his social security card fixed. I am nervous that applying under a different name than the one on the card is going to be a problem for him. He tried to do the registration for the draft on line and was rejected for that reason.
The college fair went really well. Evan was very excited about a culinary arts institute that he found. He talked all about how impressed the representative was with his experience at the summer program. He said that many of their students get jobs all over the world. He told me that he was really debating between law and cooking. I only he could be certain that he could make a good living cooking. He said he could get an $800 scholarship just for visiting in the spring, and maybe could manage the funding himself since he knows that the foster care agency will not help him to go out of state.
Afterwards we were all very hungry and went to the co-op. Andrew and Evan shared a sushi package and I got goat's cheese and crackers. We all shared. I tell you this because this morning Evan said he felt too sick to go to school. It is not exhaustion, he insists, it is the goat's cheese and sushi. He is nauseous and just a bit dizzy. I did everything I could think of to encourage him to go to school. I even told him that I would not excuse this absence. It did not work. When he gets up around lunch time, as I expect he will, I will try to get him to go for the afternoon. It is in the afternoon classes that he has the most absences. I will tell him that I will excuse the morning if he does. (I just called the school and BEFORE today he has a total of 8 absences in some afternoon classes. The maximum is 9).
Hubby and I agree that we have to take the cell phone and computers away from him at night. He will be angry of course. He does not think the problem is lack of sleep and he will point out that we said we were not going to worry about school and jobs -- just house. I will remind him that that was based upon the assumption that he was going to be going to school and getting a job -- and they are our cell phones and computers. If it seems to us that something we own is hurting him then we have to take that thing away from him. Of course I will not be able to stop him from watching TV or using the land line (for local calls) -- but it is something.
I am frustrated. I suppose the magical thinking is more or less normal for his age -- but I don't really understand it. How can he believe that he can not sleep and still feel well? How can he think that he can average 1 1/2 absences a week and still learn the material? How can he think he can be failing Political Philosophy and have any chance at all of succeeding in law school?
Grumble, grumble. So I will restrict access to the cell phone and computer at night, but I will not expect that it will make a significant difference -- other than that I will not feel like I am adding to the problem. He will do whatever he will do at school and his life will take him where his choices lead.
By the way, yesterday afternoon we went to the Social Security office and requested a new card. He should have it soon. I told him that you were going to come by sometime next year to the do the regular goals making and assessment -- and that a job would probably be the main topic of discussion. Yesterday he expressed willingness to apply for jobs today. He was thinking it would be cool to get a job before you showed up -- that would show you! Hah! (I did not tell him that I doubt that you would be disappointed not to be able to give him the lecture that you were so looking forward to giving him.)
If he has not put some real energy into finding a job by the time you get here next week, I will be ready to make take away luxuries.
Evan is choosing to make some bad choices. I agree with you that taking away privileges is probably the smart thing to do. Evan can be angry but my guess is that he will get over it. I wish I had time to meet with him today but it looks like it will be impossible with my schedule. Could you please have Evan call me when he gets up. I realize that you cannot “make” Evan do anything and if he chooses to not go to class in the afternoon then that is his choice. I agree that you should not call in an excused absence for him – obviously he is not sick. I am beginning to wonder if Evan is consciously setting himself up to fail. Anyway, if he could call me when he gets up that would be great.
Evan's Story Part 1: The Beginning
Evan's Story Part 9: the Job