Some of you know the ongoing struggles I've had with my son since a very early age. Learning disabilities, attentional issues, depression --you name it, it's probably been diagnosed. We've seen more specialists --even at fancy institutions, than I even knew existed.
Years of me trying to reach agreements with school districts over a ten year period came to an end, when I finally hired a lawyer.
Well, we got more services, though I can't say lawyers necessarily will give you what's best for your kid. Mine charged me $350.00 to meet my kid for the first time over lunch. That's the most expensive hot dog I've ever paid for.
My son is 17. He hates school. He's super smart. He wants to drop out so he gets in fights at school, then comes home and makes our lives miserable. It's all manipulative, I understand.
No high school diploma? Yet, for all the emotional upheaval, I know he doesn't want one. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Not for him. You ask him about the future and all he says is:
"I want to work. I want to skate, I want to chill."
"Yeah, but you have to have a job," I say.
I don't say this to be a smart ass. But I say it because by job, I mean something you love and are engaged in. I don't mean that he has to be an executive, I just mean he has to be doing something that interests him. As long as it's legal, and doesn't cause harm to anyone, and is an area where he can grow.
And I know this kid has a natural aptitude for work. I've seen him at his best when he's on a project that he loves, where he gets some social feedback for what he does, where he's learning. I mean, this is the kid --who if this had been the era of manifest destiny, he'd of been leading connestoga wagons to the west. He'd of had the name of every tribe, would've brokered deals in order to cross their lands, would've ridden in the forefront. He'd of discovered Montana and had brains enough to get the hell out in time for winter in San Diego.
Yet, no GED? No CAHSEE? No Diploma?
Who will hire him? Who will take a chance?
But then I think ....damn. There can't be just one path in this world. And I want to buck conventional wisdom. And then I get scared again, because I think of my friend Melanie's son Andy.
But, I'm flummoxed. I was the kid who did everything they were told.
And what's this? Karma kicking me in the ass for something I missed?
The school psychologist says "Maybe he needs Juvenile Hall." (Like it were a cruise).
And the psychiatrist says, "Why doesn't he just go to a normal high school?" (We tried that).
The therapist says, "I think school for your son is way too anxiety producing." (No lie).
And the lawyer wants to put him into a residential placement school. (And probably charge me $350. for another hot dog).
But something says.... no.
That's not where he belongs.
"What's it going to take?" someone once asked me.
"A thousand acres and a horse," I replied.
They thought I was joking.