Tuesday, January 27, 2009

About driving

Someone asked what we were going to do about enforcing the stupid rule that he can't let his seventeen-year-old girlfriend give him a ride anywhere. The answer is that whenever we catch him we will inform the social worker and ground him for two days.

I don't, in case you are wondering, expect this to have any significant affect on his behavior. Those who have studied behavior mod know that punishment only works if it is severe and immediate. I don't think there is anything I am willing to do that would be severe to a kid who has been in detention facilities as much as he has. 48 hour grounding is nothing. My opinion is still that if human beings regret their actions they don't need to be punished and if they don't regret their actions, the threat of punishment is likely to just make them be more sneaky.

I learned today that the girlfriend minds him being grounded. She gets out of school a bit before he does and is at his school to greet him every single day. In the past she has either driven him to the bus stop five blocks away and waited for the bus with him, or he has texted to say he is staying after school. Then they spend an hour together and she drops him off around the time the next bus would get here.

Anyway, she is very upset about Gary being grounded. She showed up at the school today and, I am told by Gary and Brian, protested that she can hardly survive this separation. She said she wanted to come to me and beg to let him off being grounded, and presumably promise not to drive him ever again. The boys assured her that would not work.

So she drove him to the bus stop.

It's a good thing that I don't have "prevent Gary from getting rides from the girlfriend" as a goal.
Oh, in case you are wondering, she won't turn 18 until December. And Gary did volunteer the information about the daily ride to the bus stop. I think it was a test to see which mattered more to me: him telling me the truth or him getting into the car with the girlfriend. (Answer: telling me the truth).

After thinking over the problem I suggested to him that she leave her car at the bus stop and ride home with him. They can visit here and then she could take the bus back to her car. He doesn't like the idea of her riding the bus alone because of all the "creepy people" but he agrees it might be a solution that will work he will tell her about it.

Of course it is also possible that what they will do is drive to the bus stop on THIS end and CLAIM that they rode the bus together.

Stupid rule.


  1. I agree. Stupid rule.

  2. Somehow I don't think they are going to fool you. You seem to have a very firm grasp of the situation.

  3. It seems in light of things there are more serious things to worry bout than the driving rule. Would guardenship take away that rule? or is that completely off the table right now for Gary?

  4. Guardianship and adoption would both give me the right to give him permission to get in the car with his girlfriend.

    I exited the room when they talked about it. Right now the ballis gently in Gary's court. What I mean is that no one wants to make him feel responsible for these decisions, but nothing will be done unless he feels like he can deal with it. Right now his dad is... well, a giant sleeping dog.

  5. I love your grounded grasp on reality.

  6. Can you explain to the social worker how stupid this is? Perhaps get them to make an exception? And maybe if they were willing to consider it Gary could be proactive and write them a letter asking them to be flexible, which would both make him feel empowered and show a level of responsibility and maturity.

    Could girlfriend meet Gary at the house (him taking the bus, her the car)? You would see that they didn't arrive together and they could visit together without breaking any (stupid) rules.

  7. The social worker can't make an exception to a state rule. We might be able to come up with an agreement based upon the understanding that it would be damaging to my relationship with Gary to work too hard to enforce this.

    Comparable to homework. When I have really tried to make a kid do their homework the only result was that they proved to me that I can't make them do something and an excessive amount of tension was injected into our relationship. Time we might have spent bonding was spent arguing. In the end I told the social worker that I wasn't going to monitor that any more. It didn't change the fact that the kid was supposed to do the homework, just that I wasn't going to be the enforcer.

    In this case I need to know how aggressive she needs me to be. I could put child tracking on his phone and/or meet the bus every day (a block away around the corner) to make sure he is on it. Or make Brian report on him (not).

    Or I could not worry about it, not look for trouble. If I find out that he has got a ride from her, maybe all I need to do is report it to her. We've done that too.

    Some rules are MY rules and I hold him accountable. Some rules are agency rules and all I do is tell the social worker and any consequences will (or won't) come from them.

    Right now, until I talk with her, my plan is to ground him for 48 hours when I know it happens, but try to monitor so that I know whenever she has given him a ride home from school -- or a ride the five blocks from the school to the bus stop.

    I'm not losing sleep over it.

    You know, maybe they wil break up and the problem will just go away!

  8. Remind me, is this still trouble two?

  9. Current girlfriend is still "Trouble's Friend." Given how long she has been around, she probably needs her own bloggy name. Maybe I should call the "She Who Has Her Own Car"

    Little wordy.

  10. Why are you punishing him for breaking a rule that you think is stupid?

  11. Ruth,

    That is an excellent question.

    I'm assuming your not a foster parent, and do not otherwise occupy a role in which you are obligated to enforce stupid rules.

    Maybe I will write a post about the insanity of it.

  12. It really is a stupid rule. Oh well, we all have to do our part and follow the rules as they pertain to us. At least it is one that he will not really be hurt when he disobeys (because we all know he will). :)


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