Friday, September 26, 2008

Gary in trouble for the first time

So, here's the deal...not a biggie, but still.

Gary hurt his knee a couple days ago while playing football with other kids during lunch break. There is no swelling or bruising and he has full range of motion, so I told him to take some ibuprophen. Yesterday he told me about how his PE teachers wanted him to do the activities anyway, and he wouldn't. He was laughing about it.

He has a short day today and made an appointment with this new helpful adult in his life: a one-on-one job/career coach. Really, I have no idea what he is called, although I know the name of the organization. He will spend five hours a week with Gary helping him to fill out applications, practice interviewing, get his first job (fast food, whatever), explore career ideas, follow up with job shadowing, internships, possibly a part-time job related to whatever he thinks he wants to do, etc. Anyway, the appointment is at noon and though classes are done early, the school expects people to go to the pep rally and parade. It is not difficult just to leave, but the busses aren't running. I'm in a workshop all day and said that I couldn't help him. I told him to call the job-coach-guy who I was sure would be willing to pick him up from school.

He didn't look happy, but he didn't say anything.

Then when it was time to go he wasn't ready. Roland said Gary wasn't going to school, because he had this appointment and there wasn't any way he could get home in time.

I sort of went ballistic. I told Roland that I had already had a conversation with Gary and told him to make a phone call. I told Roland that this was just idiotic. It was going to count as a full absence, even though it was a shortened day. Gary can only miss so many days before he might lose credit for his courses. Even if he was sick I would have encouraged him to go on a half-day. Staying home because he didn't want to make a frickin phone call was just too much. I wasn't going to excuse him. So sir, not me. If HE wanted to excuse Gary HE could call the school, but if the school called ME I was going to tell them to give him detention.

And then I got to my office, calmed down, and thought about what happened. I called Roland.

"You know, what he did was pretty classic triangulation. He's been told that one 'no' means no and that in order to something he needs everyone to say 'yes.' I think when we get home we should tell him that asking you after I have said no is not acceptable and he can have his cell phone back tomorrow morning."

Roland cheerfully agreed.

Of course, by the time I get home I might have calmed down enough to let him off with a stern lecture and a warning.

And I think that lecture/warning/punishment (sorry, I will not use the word "consequence" for a punishment I impose) should come from Roland. It needs to be clear that the infraction was setting Roland up, not defying me.

This is the first time he has done something that I believe he knew he shouldn't do.

I am getting calmer by the minute though. Right now I am thinking that a firm explanation about why the behavior was unacceptable is probably the best route.

It is going to take me a while to sort out what is really the best response to him for his own sake, and what I want to do because I am pissed.


  1. helpful adult in his life: a one-on-one job/career coach.In my area they are called Youth Advocates. I have a good friend who does just what you describer for youths in crisis, those aged out of foster care, etc.

    Good luck with Gary

  2. I am sorry, I am kind of chuckling. It is nice to know he is a real kid instead of a stepford child. I think you guys handled it well.


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