Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Boot Camp Begins

That's it.

I can take no more. I have no more patience, no more kindness, no more generosity. Ben is going to a 28 day outward bound program this summer. As in, the day after school gets out.

I signed him up today.

Every day he yells. Every day he has attitude. Every day is a struggle. Enough.

I love my son. I love him very much. He will be furious the day we drop him off. Something, though, big has to happen. Something has to rock his world in a constructive, positive way. We are clearly not able to provide that.

And we're about an inch away from moving him up to Maine with me, and signing him into the Maine schools for the rest of this year. Big. Dramatic. Call it what you want, but something has to give.

Of course, this will blow my plans to run for office, as I'll have to become a resident of Maine. That's ok. Whatever. I'm not going to move Zachary and Jake- they suffer with this craziness enough.

That will only happen if the loss of phone, computer and being grounded doesn't seem to have any impact.

Why now? Grades came out yesterday. Actually, grades came out on Monday, but I didn't get them until yesterday when I demanded them. A bright, capable kid is getting C's and D's. The yelling started- all his excuses, all his insecurity, all his projection. He yelled that it was our fault. We made him this way.

It is our fault. We've let it get this bad. We worried about everything. Every step. We haven't been true to our gut feeling about what needs to be done. Is it right? What will people think? Will this screw him up for the rest of his life?

No more.

If I am going to go through the grinder every day, age 15 years in a month, then you better believe we are going to go down a hard, incredibly strict line.

Ben has no idea what's going to hit him. He doesn't want to participate in school activities? Fine. He's going to Jeanine's office every day after school for two hours of extra homework she will design. He doesn't think his tutor is good enough? Fine, I'll be his tutor. He wants to rant and rave about it every day? He'll be moved to Ogunquit where he does not disrupt the entire family.

He is going to learn what hard work is.

I, personally, have let him slide because I knew he was different. I knew he had stuff going on that most kids don't deal with. I didn't push. I waited.

I think I did him a great disservice.

Like I said, no more.

For Ben? Boot camp has begun.


Anonymous honey said...

I was drawn to this post because in so many ways, this reminds me of me at 15. My mom sent me to Outward Bound too, for which I'm very grateful because I had a great time and met some lifelong friends.

I was considered a bright kid, but for some reason, right around 15, I just couldn't motivate myself to do the homework and the studying and the memorization anymore and I went from straight a's to straight d's in one year. It's not that I wasn't capable, I just didn't want to anymore. I found it all pretty boring and I would rather be doing something else, mostly socializing. So of course, my mom grounded me non-stop, I wasn't allowed to do anything that I enjoyed, I was pulled out of my school and sent to the local public one, I wasn't allowed to interact with any friends or do anything fun. I think if anything, this caused me to just hate my parents. Being grounded didn't make me want to do my homework.

I wish I knew why I fell off a cliff so completely. The only clues I have are 1) I was realizing that I was gay, 2) My birth mom took my family to court for visitation rights, and 3) School was harder, I didn't get as much attention for being smart, and it didn't seem worth it to have to try so hard.

Almost 20 years later, with my own kid on her way, I still have no idea what I would do in your position or my mom's position. What will I do if she just fights and no one wins? I wish you much grace and peace through this challenge.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

thank you so much for writing this. I cannot tell you how much this means to me.

I'm tired of the fighting, the grounding, the constant push pull. with ben, he's so angry all the time, it's made the house a war zone.

we are doing all the same things your parents did. and he hates us too.

he is such a good kid. deep down? gentle and kind. I know that. he knows that.

this is all I know how to do.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Ms. Moon said...

Maggie May over at
is going through many of the same things with her 15-year old son.
You are not alone. And you are doing a great job. Believe it or not. I have been around the block more than several times with some of my kids and you know what? They are amazing grown-ups now and Ben will be too. I promise.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

oh ms. moon, it's the pain they go through in the meantime.

and how it comes out in every direction.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Java Jane said...

I feel like reading what I just read in your post was a glimpse of my life in the past couple of weeks with our twelve yr old. He is currently staying at his grandma's house until we can figure out how to handle this situation best. Life is tough, never easy. I hope things get better for all of us who struggle with not knowing how to deal with our struggling kids. I find boys possess such anger and sadness and so many emotions that they just can't let out. And how frustrating to not be able to express yourself vocally in a way that can actually get you somewhere. Sigh. Anyhow, I get where you are at Sara, and I'm sorry life is a little upside down.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Ulla said...

I worry about you. Please listen to him. He may just have an inkling about what he needs.
And as I've said before: Please read Jesper Juul 'your competent child'. What harm will it do?

3:50 AM  

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