One of the hardest things for me, as a parent, is watching my boys struggle. Sure, all kids struggle at times, but some seem to struggle more than others. When my boys were little, my youngest son was very clingy and shy. In preschool, his best friend was a girl, because the boys were too rough for him. Now, at 15, he is outgoing and confident, and travels with a large pack of boys, many of whom were those same preschoolers that were "too rough" for him back when they were 4. He plays football, and in spite of his smaller size, is an impact player on the A team for his high school. I have no idea how it happened or where this confidence came from. I look at him, and think, how did I get this kid? How did he turn it around?
My oldest is a different story. Friendly, talkative, and helpful as a child, around other kids, he could be shy but always had friends. He was more of a follower than a leader, and that always worried me. Now he really worries me more than ever. Lacking in self confidence, he is doing things that are getting him into trouble. His judgement has been really poor over the past year. I've written before about my summer with the boys and some of the trials they've put me through. I hoped when school settled down, so would my boys. My youngest has. Between playing football and doing school work, he's busy and doing well. I don't worry so much about him.
But my oldest? This past week, I received notice that he's failing 2 classes. His excuse is that school just started and he'll get his grades up. He never seems to have homework. But that's because he isn't doing it. When I received an email from one of his teachers regarding his failing grade, I told him he was grounded. He protested mightily. I also found out that he never told me about or signed up for the PSAT practice test. We argued about that. He signed up at the last minute, and used that to try to negotiate his punishment. No deal.
|All day long I got these yesterday.....|
Yesterday, I finally did what I never have wanted to do as a parent, and searched his room. It didn't feel good. Confirming what I already suspected, I found some rolling papers and lighters. No weed, though. I wasn't surprised at what I found, but I was really sad. I talked with my husband, who is normally much slower to punish than I am, and he and I talked about how we were going to handle this. I also talked with my son's guidance counselor at school, who was extremely helpful. Her suggestion was to drug test him. As was the suggestion of one of my friends who has been going through something similar with her son.
Ugh. When I worked at my old clinic, a medicaid clinic, I had parents ask me to drug test their kids all the time. I wouldn't do it. I told them that if they suspected their kids were using drugs, most likely they were right, and that they could buy a test over the counter to confirm their suspicions. I didn't want to be the one to confront the kids. Now that I'm in their shoes, I totally get why they wanted me to be the bad guy. Because it doesn't feel good to have that conversation. But I knew I had to do it.
So last night, when I got home from work, I asked my son to come upstairs. I opened his desk drawer and pulled out what I had found. I told him that I hated to have to do that, but that I was getting really worried about him. He looked stunned, but told me he bought the stuff to "sell it" to other kids. I asked him why he would want to do that and he said that he just thought they might want it. None of the paraphernalia was used. So I'm still not clear on why he had it. I asked him if he was smoking weed, and he of course denied it. I asked him if I did a drug test, would it be positive? He said no, but he wouldn't look me in the eye. "So," I said, "if I gave you a cup to pee in, and I tested it, nothing would show up?" He looked down and said no. I told him that if things didn't improve, that I would do that. He mumbled some smart ass remark and slunk away to the couch where he was watching videos on his phone.
He's home today, no school because of the Jewish holiday, and he has not asked me once about getting "ungrounded". He's also been pretty quiet, and not saying much to me. I don't know if he's thinking about what we talked about or not. Maybe I'm not tough enough. Maybe I should have made him give me a urine sample last night. But what would it prove? Something I already know? Am I wrong? I will say my husband I both agreed that we don't want to do this.
I don't think he's using that often, but I worry that it could turn into more than casual use. He's a quiet kid now, with few friends. He doesn't play sports. What better way to get attention and notoriety than to do bad things, get a reputation for smoking weed and failing classes?
Believe it or not, I was this kid in high school. I had zero self confidence. I had friends but I always felt awkward, like I didn't fit in. My sister Lisa was the cheerleader and super popular. I could never live up to that standard, so I made my own. I smoked pot, I drank...my grades dropped. So so stupid! Is history repeating itself? If I could do it over again...but they say hindsight is 20/20. For sure. And we learn from our mistakes and grow. As long as we don't do anything really stupid and hurt ourselves or get in trouble, that is...
I was pretty lost until my late 20s. When my lack of self esteem and anxiety began to take over my life, I started to run. As I continued to run, I started to feel good about myself. I still had a long way to go, but running really turned my life around. So this morning, when I came back from my fantastic speed work session, feeling on top of the world in spite of what is going on at home, I said to my son, "its too bad you don't like to run. It really helps me feel good." He just grunted. But he sees this! He sees what I'm doing! Why can't he apply it to his life?
It's hard to sit back and watch him make some of the same mistakes I did as a teen. I'm fortunate that I was able to turn it around. I wish I could make him see how much easier his life would be if he had an outlet, like running, to make him feel good about himself. Right now, all I can do is hold his hand and try to keep him from going backwards.