This was a tough day on our end. Our son was at a wilderness program in Idaho on his 16th birthday. We were able to scan a birthday card for him and they would print out on his end. You are probably thinking what kind of birthday is that? Well, again we had to take our emotions out of it. As hard as that was to do, we had to focus on the fact that he was actually able to have a 16th birthday. It was not the ideal situation, but hey, difficult times require difficult decisions and that was our summer in a nutshell.
They did have a cake for him. And he wasn't the only kid to have birthday away from home. He was safe and learning things about himself that could serve him well in the future. There was so much to be grateful for: a new day, a new chance to grow, a new perspective and outlook. We were in a parallel process with him, complete with a full of a gambit of emotions.
As the weeks went by, we were able to finally have a phone call with him and his therapist. Everything was always monitored. We he heard our voices for the first time, he immediately broke down into tears. He was extremely emotional during our therapy call. It was shocking, yet touching, because it meant he was actually feeling something.
He stuck to a script of topics and questions. We let him do most of the talking. It wasn't social, but with our limited time, we had to discuss the important reasons we sent him. He said he didn't want to lie to us anymore. He admitted to pushing us away. He said he missed us. Wow, absence does make the heart grow fonder.
The biggest revelation was that he said he didn't realize until he was away, that he did in fact, love us. He tried so hard to keep us at arm's length during the past year, that he rejected the two people who cared for him the most on this planet. And he slowly was opening up his feelings. Very slowly. Another biggie was that he said didn't hate us for sending him. Deep down he had to feel a big relief for not to be living the life he struggled with at home: the negative friends and the negative behaviors. It was exactly what his psychiatrist said it would be: a re-boot!
Happy Birthday Son!
To be continued......
We had plans to go to our cabin for the 4th of July. Originally it was supposed to be with our son and a friend and her mom, but since we had a massive change of events, it became a small family gathering. We did have one uninvited guest. Just before our first weekly phone call with our son's wilderness therapist, a rattlesnake showed up near an old BBQ pit by the cabin.
A rattlesnake always adds a high level of excitement to anyone's day, that's for sure. We had the call and then dealt with the snake later. Well, I actually took pictures from inside the window of the capture and re-location. The snake now has a new home six miles away from the cabin and was last seen happily slithering down a hill. Disaster diverted!
The call went well. We liked his new therapist and felt that we could all do some good work together. It was not going to be easy or quick, but baby steps in a structured environment. We would be receiving letters from our son during his first few weeks of wilderness to help everyone ease into a new "normal". We in turn would answer back. It was old fashioned communication at it's best. His letters were handwritten and we were pleasantly surprised at his "nice" printing and how legible it actually was. We complemented him on what a good writer he was. It had been a long time since we had seen any of his school work, so we had no idea he could write that way.
As I look back on that particular week, I remember feeling very emotional and "raw" inside. I went swimming at the local pool everyday. It is a huge, old time pool with a one foot shallow end that goes up to nine feet in the deep end and has a diving board to boot. I tried to take in the beauty of the local mountains near the cabin and relax as best I could. It was a really "weird" time, but our son was safe and we were all adjusting to our "new" surroundings.
There were no fireworks for us on this particular 4th of July, that is, the kind we had been dealing with from his behavior at home. It was a new beginning, a re-boot, a time for healing. Our son's sixteenth birthday was coming up. How would that be for him in the wilderness? How would it be for us, without him at home? Come back to find out!
Feeling relief and rebuilding new strength,
One of the self-care ideas I had was to start a walk on Fridays for anyone with anything that they were battling. My family's personal struggle is too much technology started taking over our lives. I've had a few different folks join me, but one stand-out friend who comes religiously! We need more people like that in the world, believe you me!
My doggy loves to come along and I like any excuse to walk her. My friend and I chat about what's new in my family's journey and other pressing events. During our walk on this particular Friday morning, I got a call from a number in Idaho.
"I better answer it", I said. It was the Wilderness Program, saying "Everything was fine", but wanted to know if I had received the "parent packet and log-in info for the website".
"YES, I had". I neglected to respond back to their email, so they were checking to be sure.
"Oh, also to let you know your son did well last night (his first in the wilderness) and he participated in the evening group chat, but was a little quiet." What a relief to hear that news! It was still a little bit hard to grasp that we did in fact send our almost 16 year old off to a wilderness program, out of state. I needed all the good news I could get! And so the walk continued.
I have many people who virtually walk with us on Fridays too! Sometimes I'll FaceTime them or text them as I am starting or finishing to include their energy and support. I know there are people who wish they join us, but because of distance or other restrictions, can't make it. I just want you all to know that I'll be walking every week for you, even if you can't be there in person.
Staying strong and still walking,
My teenage son and the two interventionists were on their way to Oakland. We received a text from the "lead" Tyler, when they arrived at the airport. We received another text when they made it through security. And more followed, when they touched down in Las Vegas, the stop on the way to Idaho. Similar texts came they were taking off again, landing and had arrived in Idaho. It was so nice to get these updates through the early morning hours.
We had so much support from our friends and family during this emotional time. They checked in with us throughout the day to see how we were doing. I am saying right now, if one can share hard times with others, it comes back to you big time. People do care and we were so grateful to have "our village". Even with the support, the hours seemed to move in slow motion. We tried to go back to sleep but it didn't really happen.
And then around 12:30 pm, California time we received a call from Tyler. He let us know that our son was successfully delivered to the Wilderness Program, safe and sound! Whew, what a relief! He shared that our son was completely compliant and polite during the trip. The transport went very smoothly.
The only question that our son asked was "How long will I be gone?"
The answer, "A short time". The real answer was most likely between 6-12 weeks. But I'm getting ahead of the story. Be sure to keep following the MY WARRIOR MOM LIFE Blog to get all the details!
Tyler asked if we had any questions for him.
"Did our son know what was happening? Was he suspicious at all?"
"No, he was very surprised", was the response. "He was very quiet, the whole way there".
"Did he sleep on the trip?"
"Yes", according to Tyler. (No, when we later asked our son. He just pretended to be asleep.)
"Did he eat anything?" we asked. "No, not really", according to Tyler. (So much for the bottled water and Hershey's bar I sent along!)
"Did he take his retainer, with his two false teeth attached to it?"
"No, he said he lost it", said Tyler.
(After a couple of years of braces, this was the second custom retainer that he lost in just a few months time! And this one was only two days old! What? That was $700 down the drain! I was angry after hearing that! More on that later!)
We thanked Tyler and told him that he was one of our "angels"! We said that we would be happy to recommend him and his company's services to anyone needing a transport team like we did. Tyler was happy to help. He would turn right around and do the same trip in reverse to make it back home later that same night. Within days, I filled out the questionnaire sent by the transport company and gave everyone high marks!
Within moments of our call with Tyler, we received a call from the Wilderness Program saying that our son was being checked in and about to pick up his clothing and gear. Shortly after that he would be examined by the staff physician and would join up with his new group. I could feel the numbness of our exhausting day beginning to wear off. Whew, what a relief! Our son was safe!
What would this new journey hold for our teen? Would he be angry with us forever for sending him to a Wilderness Program without his knowledge? Could he understand why we decided to send him? So many questions were in the air. Stay tuned to find out the answers.
Full of hope and relief,
The night of the transport finally arrived. I had spoken to the Lead Interventionist earlier in the week as to what to expect. He was so nice and caring and it made it a lot easier to know what was going to happen, in advance. There would be two men, both trained professionals in this field, to make this transport work. Neither would lay a finger on our son. They use encouraging words and positive speech to get a kid from Point A to Point B. And they have years of experience. Some might have even been a troubled youth in their own past.
In our case, Point A was a small town in the San Francisco Bay Area and Point B was a small town in southern Idaho. It was all planned out. They would arrive at our house at 3am. We would meet outside to go over the "script" and get on the same page with them. At this time, we put our little doggy in our car, since we were going to leave the premises in a bit, too.
As we greeted the two men, we saw how calm and confident they were. We hugged them immediately because we had come to think of them as our "angels". I had read testimonials from other parents who had been through this exact moment and one of them called the men "angels". So we did too. And that's how we were able to get through this most difficult moment. One of the toughest since we had been parents, without a doubt!
We were very concerned that our son would be angry with us and not go along with the plan. We had no idea what his reaction would be and how long it would take to get him out of the house. The average time is about an hour or so, we were told. They always have a Plan B, just in case there is resistance. The goal was to take an early morning flight out of Oakland International Airport. At no time would our son be left alone. One man drives, the other takes the plane and a third man meets them on the other end to drive the rest of the way to the Wilderness Program.
The four of us walked into our son's bedroom (the room without a door). I turned on the light. He looked pretty much awake and sat up, a little surprised. I said in a calm voice (I never knew I could be an actress until this moment), "Leo and Tyler are going to take you to a Wilderness Program today and they will take very good care of you. We love you". My son rolled over towards his wall and then I caught a glance and a wink from Tyler". I think he meant, "We've got this".
We left the house very quickly and started driving towards the downtown area of town. It was surreal and very emotional. All the time we had been trying to decide what to do for our struggling teenager was coming to a climax. In less than twenty minutes we received a text that they were "On our way". What? How is that even possible? "The phone is on the charger". OMG! That hasn't happened in two years. How did they do that?
I was able to pack our son a small bag, for the trip. In it was bottle of water, a candy bar and a Star Wars book. He left with the clothes on his back because he would be given everything he needed at the Wilderness Program once he arrived.
Come back tomorrow to see how the rest of my son's trip went. Were there any hiccups on beginning of his new journey?
Feeling HUGE relief and a bag of mixed emotions,
We completed all the paperwork for the Wilderness Program. We arranged for the transport company to come and take our sixteen year old son, in the middle of the night, without his knowledge. And yes, it is absolutely the one of the most difficult decisions a parent can ever make. But we had a chance to save his live. That's it.
We had to think of it in a positive way. His life was spiraling downward. We were finding out about alcohol incidents that previously had been just marijuana use. Our house was like a hotel to him during the three weeks of summer vacation. He slept there, ate a late night meal there and was gone for the rest of the time. With who knows whom and who knows where. He was checking in less and less and I was always worried.
I called his friends, I texted his friends. They were really getting annoyed with me asking questions, but what else could I do? He seemed depressed and anxious at the same time. On the afternoon before the "big night" he asked me to take him to get some electronic supplies. I reluctantly said, "Fine." On the way out of town, I rear ended a tow truck in front of his old middle school. Things like that happen for a reason. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but when I asked my son to retrieve our license plate which fell of the car into the intersection, he said, "No way, do you want me to get hit?". WOW, thanks for caring, is what I felt. He got out of the car and started walking home when I told him that I wasn't taking him to buy anything.
I tried to not think about what was ahead later that evening, so I went to try my hand at the game of pickle ball with a friend. It was a great distraction and an awesome workout. I ran into a couple of moms who were from our nursery school many year ago. As we talked, they asked about our son. I told them the whole story. Talk about stopping a conversation. I was very emotional.
The night before that we had a nice dinner with our son and the friend who took him to school during the last weeks of his freshman year. It was a thank you dinner to the friend and we all had a great time. Except, we knew what was coming and they did not. It was so hard not spilling the beans and acting natural, but we hung on and were able to do it. We talked about fun things we liked to do and of the future. It was surreal!
For some unknown reason, our son was home by 8:30 or 9pm the night of the transport. He watched some movies on his phone in his room and then started making grilled cheese sandwiches around 11 or 12 pm. I heard cereal being poured into a bowl after that. There were lots of noises coming from the kitchen. I tried to sleep but couldn't. I had an alarm set for 2:55 am. The guys (two large men: one played in the NFL and the other was bigger!) texted to say they would be arriving at 3 am. As soon as they arrive, we would go over the game plan first before anything else, outside the front gate.
Come back to the blog tomorrow to hear how it all went.
Trying to stay calm,
After filling out the LONG online application for the Wilderness Program our son would be going to, we were given a TO DO list a mile long to make it happen. And we had to keep all of this a secret and under wraps or he would resist. The list of things we needed to get accomplished was scheduling a physical exam with the pediatrician, getting an up-to-date dental exam, ordering another retainer (since he lost one previously) and a finding a host of other things that needed to be scanned. I needed to find his report cards, student ID and get images of the front and back of the health insurance card. We needed to re-arrange big money and free up some room on our credit cards in order to pay for everything.
It seemed overwhelming but it actually gave me an action list of things TO DO each day, so I was occupied. The last thing I wanted to do was to tip our hand and give away the Big Secret. So, we went on lock down. Any conversation we had with friends and family was on a different topic. No more posts on Facebook. The hardest part was that I still had to converse with other parents of our son, since he went "missing in action" a number of nights. I told them nothing.
My son would take his cell phone, but then go to places that had little or no coverage. He would take an extra charger, yet his phone would go "dead". What a pain it was to try and communicate with him. Things couldn't get worse, could they? YES! However, I knew we were on the right track, when at my son's physical appointment, I asked to speak privately to the Doctor before he gave the exam. I told him what was up, and he firmly "shook" my hand when I told him our plan. "Way to go!" he said. I felt empowered. This was the same doctor that examined our two day old infant son and said he was a bit jaundiced so, "Give him a sun bath" for a few minutes. The same doctor that treated a young boy with the stomach flu and pink eye. Now we were dealing with not going to school, screen addiction and marijuana. How did this happen? No one tells you it actually gets harder, not easier!
The last piece of the puzzle was giving the final okay to the Wilderness program and setting up the transport company. It was getting down to the wire. There was one final spot saved for our son for the end of June or we would have to wait another month to begin. NO MORE WAITING! We confirmed the dates and then had to get through three seemingly long weeks without giving the secret away. Find out if we did it in tomorrow's blog post.
Breathing a sigh of relief,
It was strikingly clear that our decision was the right one. Wilderness it was. But how would we know which one? Our Education Consultant said it was all about the people. And she knew most of them working at these places, from her years in the field. She also said don’t go looking around the internet because they can all paint a wonderful picture with a well done website, which made perfect sense.
I wanted to get a sense of what the therapy part of the Wilderness programs were like, so a family member gave me a set of videos from their child’s experience six years before at a program in Utah. I watched it and started to get sense what a gift the nature component played in helping kids. Their brains needed to have the serenity of the earth and it’s elements to relax and change.
The world was moving too quickly for some and out of control for many, including my son. Along with his ADHD which appears to create a lag in his development, so does using massive amounts of technology. The cherry on top was the abuse of substances like marijuana. So my fifteen year old was at least two years behind in his emotional development. WOW!
I was at my rope’s end so I posted something on Facebook that showed my vulnerability. It said something like: "Not sure what the future holds, private school, boarding school or wilderness?" Very simple, but lots of my friends responded. “Hang in there!” and “This too shall pass” were in the comments back to me. And then along side of my posting was an ad for Blue Fire Wilderness. It said something like “Wilderness Therapy Programs can help get kids and teens lives back on track - Call today”.
So I called. A very sympathetic voice answered and talked with me for about forty-five minutes. He was so caring and helpful by answering my questions that I wanted to check it out. In fact he told me he knew our Ed. Consultant. So we mentioned this place to her and though it was fairly new (since 2014), it was in the same location as a well known program before it, so she knew a little bit about it from that perspective.
We filled out the online application which is daunting to say the least. I was like a “mad woman” typing quickly to fill in all the questions of what led us to the position we were in currently. We did compare it to another program that our Ed. Consultant suggested and it was a toss up. Both were exactly what we were looking for. The tipping point had to do with Equine Therapy and the activity based model that Blue Fire Wilderness used.
The other program was outstanding and I also filled out an application there, too. Boy what a ton of work, but it was formalizing our need to send our son. A big question was the cost. These places are not cheap. Seriously, not cheap (over $500 per day, yes per day!) We are still waiting to hear if were will get any compensation from our insurance company, but we worked on our finances and increased our line of credit and we were off to the races. It's only money right, when you are talking about saving your son's life?
Come back tomorrow to see how we kept this secret in the weeks before the admission date was scheduled. There were many ducks to put into a row, it kept us all very busy!
As each day ended, I would take a deep breath and say to myself, "Well, got through another day". Honestly, that is no way to live! The stress was killing us! We had to come to a decision of how we were going to get more help, and quick.
We talked to therapists, consultants, school administrators, friends and fellow parents about private schools, boarding schools, boot camps, alternative schools and wilderness programs. We continued to encourage our son to go to his weekly therapy session that cost a bundle. We read books and blogs about teens. We talked to family members who worked in schools and in counseling. We had to exhaust all possibilities before making the last resort decision of wilderness.
Then as the session with our son's psychiatrist was finishing up, the Doctor called me into the office, alone.
"Did you know that your son was HIGH today for his appointment?" he asked.
"No, really?" I sighed. "Well that's it. He is so going to Wilderness!" I exclaimed.
What a blow that was and how sad I felt. This was not going to be easy, but we had no other choice. It was a matter of saving his life. He was only fifteen!
The next day I called a "transport company" recommended by our Education Consultant. They explained how they worked and what was involved in getting our son to a wilderness program. I took notes so I would remember, because my brain was now in a huge blanket of fog. I asked some questions and went online to fill out the application and paperwork.
Wow, this was getting very REAL! But it actually was decided for us. NONE of us could continue to deal with the day to day "BALONEY" (you fill in any word you like here) that consumed our family. It had to stop and we needed more help.
That weekend I made another call, too. This one was to the Wilderness Program we selected. There were many considerations. Come back to tomorrow to find out how we chose the place we did! "Hello, my son is flunking out of school and smoking marijuana everyday and never gets off his phone......Can you help us?"
My son has a friend who is just plain awesome. She cares about him and she stays above the fray! She is a gift. How so? Well it goes like this.....
My son decided that going to school wasn't in his wheel house. He decided to just stay home. I would call his absence into the office or I would let the record show that he didn't attend. I did it both ways. Finally I got a call from the Administration. Wow they noticed. How about that? They didn't think he was a real truant, just someone failing his classes. Hmm....This went on for weeks. He didn't get arrested. He didn't go to school. I just stayed home from work to watch him. A really productive time for me and for him too!
So, as the school year was coming to a close, with just three weeks left, my son's friend pounded on the front window of our house! I answered the door and she said, "I've come to take your child to school!" I said, "Come on in....go get him!" Off they went. He was so happy to have someone care, that it was totally worth it!
As so, she was able to do what no one else had be able to do. She got him to school. Day after day, she knocked at 7:20-7:30 AM and they walked, or rode bikes, and he went to school. It was a miracle. Then one day, she didn't arrive....well, you can guess the rest....he didn't go that day. She had overslept and was so apologetic when we saw her the following week.
During my daily noon time walk, I saw some high school kids hanging out near the creek, a couple blocks away from campus. Who were they? Yup, our son and some of his not so good influences. So while he was getting TO school, it didn't actually translate to his going to his classes. I didn't even care, he was out of the house. I was getting really tired of his Freshman year!
Our goal was to get to the end of the school year in one piece. And we had other plans starting to formulate. Come back tomorrow to find out what we where up to! Countdown......
Still caring and hopeful,
The weeks following our Spring Break Disneyland trip were up and down and it became very clear that we needed to take care of ourselves. I asked my therapist what exactly does "take care of yourself" really mean? She explained it was about doing things that you like, along with getting plenty of exercise. I've also heard it explained like when the flight attendant tells parents to put the oxygen mask on first, then assist your child. You come first, or you can't help your kid!
The community pool up the street re-opened in April. I began swimming in that pool five to six days a week. My routine was not hard core, but a slow and steady series of laps that were more like "water aerobics". Sitting elementary back stroke, breast stroke and a rock climbing motion through the water were just a few of the moves I did. I would increase my time each day until I reached an average of 45 minute work-outs. Boy, did I feel good after getting out of the pool. The water had a calming effect that I was craving. It was my much needed escape.
Another activity that I enjoy is shooting baskets. So after leaving the neighborhood pool, I would pass a school yard that had many basketball hoops. What do you know? There were some basketballs lying around. So, I started to shoot. First close up shots, then free-throws and then further away, three point style. I didn't make them all, but I shot and shot until I made 50 points (25 baskets). That activity felt good too. I was beginning to get the idea of self-care.
I was actually enjoying myself in the middle of a "teenage storm" at our house. I still felt crummy a lot of the time, but as I tried to "be in the moment" and "put one foot in front of the other". I was beginning to feel a little bit of relief, too. In fact, I highly recommend that you find your own personal activities to aid you in the self-help arena. What types of activities or hobbies give you pleasure? What is something that you've always wanted to take up? Or, what things have you put aside from your past that you can re-kindle? I was finally understanding what people meant when they told me "take care of yourself".
Keeping my eye on the ball!
Disneyland is the happiest place on Earth! So what better way to get our family mojo back but to take a driving trip from NorCal to Anaheim during Spring Break. We had the brilliant idea of inviting our nephew to join us and that turned out to be a life saver. We had such a great time and a week of togetherness and happiness. But could it last?
Our son and his cousin have a special relationship built on a time when he lived with us for one and half years in his early 20's. He was getting on his feet after some tough times, but we all enjoyed our shared time together. The two are about ten years apart and our son looks up to his "chill" cousin (that's a good thing!). They both love computers, gaming and have similar music tastes, so the long drive was very pleasant surprise. We have always said that our son travels well! And that was the exact case with this adventure.
The trip almost didn't happen. The Friday before the vacation, our son decided he would just stay home in bed and not go to school. It was becoming a regular practice but there was not much we could do about it. He was bigger than we were and he ignored any attempts in regular conversation. The practice of the day was "just keeping the peace". After 3pm (about the time school would have be out of session), our son came out of his room and started watching Star Wars movies in the family room. He seemed happier and so "we ran with it". After watching about three different movies, we said that we were going to change gears and turn on something else.
It was not clear what triggered his rage, but he didn't like what we said and threw the remote control from the TV at us. It missed the TV, but hit one of us. It was escalating quickly. I said that I was going to call the Police and he rushed us trying to get our iPhone. We were very clear with him that if he demonstrated any physical behavior it would result in our calling the cops. He said he was leaving. I've never seen him move so quickly, but he put on shoes and grabbed his backpack and he left the house.
The police showed up right away and another cop car stopped our son and told him to get in. It was not something that we took lightly but we were showing that if we said something, we meant it and they wouldn't be just "hollow words". Our son was very polite and listened to the officers as they said this was a warning and his behavior was not acceptable. We were in fact making a strong point, that our safety was paramount.
This happened about ten pm on that Friday night. The next few days were peaceful and quiet. We had no idea if our trip on Wednesday would even be possible. But as with many things, as time passes by, so do ill feelings and actions. Our nephew showed up at our designated departure time and off we went as planned a few days after our traumatic incident happened.
Our new tone was set and we showed him that we would be setting boundaries that couldn't be broken. It is a really hard thing to admit that we had to call the cops on our son, but we know it was the right thing to do.
As we were standing in line to meet Darth Vader and saw our son's smiling face when he met the Star Wars icon, we knew that at least for a moment, we could be happy together. Inside this young person was someone that was lost and needed to find himself again.
The trip was a success and we headed home after a few days at the Happiest Place on Earth.
Full of Love,
Our newly hired Education Consultant said that one of the main reasons that Wilderness works is that it is peer based. The kids hold each other accountable, especially on past actions. They seldom want to go back to their exact old life and are happy to start school somewhere fresh. They often drop the negative friends and make strides in self belief and self confidence. They do this by having experiences in nature, without the distraction of screens! Their lives become simple. Get up, eat, hike, set up a tent, eat, sleep. REPEAT. Oh, there is a lot of therapy and many assignments about accountability, as well.
The time spent in a program is around 6-12 weeks on average. And most programs go year round, even through snowy and cold winters. That's why the summertime is so popular for many. It doesn't cut into the school year and the weather is better. The ages go from 11-17 and then there is an older adult group that goes 18-28. One program may have a boys group, a girls group, a younger and an older group. The down sides are the cost (most cost around $500/day) and getting the kids delivered to the programs (there are transport services which safely get kids to the program for hire). And it's not like the images on old TV shows, the transport people are truly like "angels" and they use words to motivate. They don't lay a finger on the kids.
The kids come to the program without any supplies. Everything they need is given to them by the program: clothing, utensils, tents, sleeping bags, hiking boots. Some programs offer experiences like Equine therapy with horses, rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking. At night the kid's boots and clothes are taken just in case they are "runners". The food is basic, healthy and with very little sugar. They are uncomfortable enough that change will happen. And they are comfortable enough that they really can enjoy themselves in the activities. Most have a rolling admission so kids come and go through the program, some will always have more experience than others. It wouldn't be good for their to be ALL newbies!
My notebook was filled with notes to consider. It was time to digest all we learned. The main thing was that we still had not exhausted every possible solution before deciding any future plan. Find out how Disneyland helped us get through this difficult time.
Life used to be so simple. Wait isn't that a line from the song, "The Way We Were"? Sounds a bit like it I guess. But it's true, life was much simpler than our current way of living, especially if you have kids with learning and behavior challenges. Nowadays, in order to keep up with all the options of where to go to school, it may be necessary to hire an Education Consultant. In our case, she was a gift from above! Recommended by our teenage son's psychiatrist, she met with us on a Saturday morning last March.
She had tons of experience and explained that in order to recommend schools to her clients, she travels to visit all the places in person, at least one weekend out of every month. The people behind the schools and other programs like Wilderness Therapy, is what makes or breaks a good program. She told us NOT to start searching for places on the internet, because what we will see is how good a website the webmaster has created, not necessarily how good that school is. Don't be fooled or fall for the "bling". It's all about the people!
"Judging a book by it's cover" is similar to going on a college tour during your senior year in high school. Everyone falls in love with the exterior of the campus buildings covered with ivy and with the sight of well manicured, green lawns. If you were going to be a happy, engaged college student, going inside the actual classes would be the best way to decide. Another way would be to talk to the people who attend the school and ask a lot of questions.
So, that's what we did with our Education Consultant. We asked a LOT of questions! She explained that Summer was a good time for teens like our son who struggle with school, drugs and alcohol and are defiant. Many kids that have negative friends also benefit from going to a Wilderness program. And then you have to find the right After Care or school when you finished the program. Many of the good Wilderness programs are in the Western USA: Idaho, Utah, Oregon and Montana. They often have service focused people working there. Many of the staff are fulfilling a promise of community service. Some have become mentors to kids because they might have been "that kid" and are now giving back.
Then, our Education Consultant asked for all sorts of info about our son. We brought her report cards, IEP reports and filled out a questionnaire about him so she could determine what place might be a good fit. She asked if he might come to a future appointment and we thought there would be NO WAY, so she would have to go solely on what we told her, the paperwork we brought and speaking with his doctor.
There was so much to learn. Our meeting lasted a couple of hours. We had no idea there was another world out there: Wilderness, Aftercare, Private Schools.....What would we decide?
Peace and hope!
"Plan B"? I repeated to the Doctor.
"Yes, Plan B is Wilderness," he explained. "A Wilderness Therapy Program. It's like a re-boot. It's gives teens a chance to stop what bad behaviors are going on in their lives and it can put them back on track."
"Oh, I've heard of that," I replied. "I have a nephew who went to what I always called SNOW CAMP and he hiked and hiked and hiked and was given peanut butter after completing certain tasks. I think it helped him."
"Well it's a bit different now," the doctor continued. "They participate in outdoor activities and learn important survival skills from the staff, but most importantly they are accountable to themselves and their peers. It simplifies their lives and takes away all the distractions. Here is the name of a local Education Consultant and she can tell you more about it. She can also give you info on other school options, since the local public high school is not a good fit for your son. They don't get it at that high school. Not everyone learns the same way."
As I left the consultation, my mind was spinning with doubts and fears. We will never be able get our son to go to a Wilderness Program. Never in a million years. He will fight it the minute it's suggested. But when I got home and mulled PLAN B over in my mind, I started to get used to the possibility. However, every other option had to be exhausted first! We weren't done trying other things before deciding on Wilderness. We had to continue with Plan A first: Weekly therapy, email my son's teachers, call an IEP meeting.
I began talking with family and friends and was shocked to find how many friends had sent their kids/teens to Wilderness Programs. Was bad behavior becoming commonplace for our youth? Was the pace of all our lives becoming unmanageable? Was the technology boom causing undue stress and anxiety for some? YES! YES! YES!
I called the Education Consultant and made an appointment for the upcoming Saturday.
(Come back tomorrow and find out what we learned from her.)
My sixteen year old son is technology whiz. He can code and program with the best of them AND take most things apart. Putting them back together is more of a challenge however. I remember days going to a local thrift store and buying rotary dialing phones and other old fashioned electronics for him to fiddle with, for pennies on the dollar. It seems that he may have some kind of future in that broad field of computers or engineering.
But, in order to be able to get a job down the road, completing school is important. That goal became a problem during the second semester of his freshman year. My son's interests started to change. He seemed anxious and depressed. Something had to be done. He was not himself anymore.
My son has gone to doctors for his ADHD meds since 7th grade. But after going to one for a while he decided that he didn't like that one anymore and would refuse to go to any appointments. Ugh. So I had a brilliant idea. I said to my son, "Find a friend you trust. Someone who likes their doctor and get that doctor's name and I'll make an appointment for you." Agreed, at least their would be some street cred if a friend suggest it! I called and started the process of my son becoming the new doctor's patient. This psychiatrist has his office in the next town from us, so it was pretty convenient to see him. He required a couple of consultation appointments before therapy would begin which seemed fine to me. The only draw back was the expense, wow was he expensive. Gulp. I made it happen.
I filled out the paperwork before we met and gave a history of some of the challenges and problems that we were having as a family and for my son as a teenager. Where to begin? I compiled a laundry list of problems to work on. It seemed so daunting: ADHD and school failure, marijuana and negative friends, technology addiction and just plain 'ole defiance were at the top.
The first thing the doctor said to me was, "Let's talk about Plan B". I replied, "What's that?" And he continued.........(find out more in tomorrow's blog post)
This is Day Two of The Ultimate Blog Challenge for October. If you are a new reader, welcome. My story is simple: I am a mom of a sixteen year old teenager. That's it in a nutshell. You might be thinking, "Okay, that's nice..." but a blog about that? Well, if you haven't noticed lately the world is becoming inundated with technology and it's causing a few problems. That is seriously true if you are a teenager with an iPhone, iPad, computer and TV. There is way too much screen time AND social media! A young person's brain is filled with so much information and instant communication, there is NO down time to just hang out and be bored.
And for my family it has put us into crisis! Our once fun-loving interactions have become tense and no fun at all.
To pick up where the last post left off, my son was on strike, with silence and school truancy. He decided not to attend any of his high school classes for a week. It was also so abnormally quiet it felt like an Egyptian tomb in our house. My son engaged in NO conversation at all, not even a grunt. UNTIL, caught off guard in the basement while he was building something with wires, he answered a question about how it worked. He began explaining what he was trying to do, until he realized that he was talking and he clammed up once again. Darn, almost got him!
The difficult part is that I needed him to go to the orthodontist to get his braces checked. He was so close to getting them off and that part was something he was looking forward to. So I had to make a deal. "You go to the orthodontist and return to school and you can have your computer back with certain time restrictions." We drew up a contract and he agreed to it....for the moment. I had a need (getting him to see the orthodontist and going back to school) and he had a need (to get his computer back again). Plus, by this time of two weeks away from friends, he was certainly missing them (and the marijuana, I'm sure, too).
So things returned to back to normal pretty quickly. No homework, no chores and minimal engagement. My frustration level put me on a mission of how we were going to get through this teenage mess. But at least for now, the braces were checked and school was being attended.
Hanging in there,
As this saga continues, I want to share that this blog will be part of the Ultimate Blog Challenge and that it is my intention to blog everyday during the month of October. At least that is my goal. Our story will move along much quicker and I hope you will post comments when something moves you.
Life with a fifteen year old can be up and down to say the least. Teens have biological needs to sleep more and most will also begin to stay up later and later into the night. That was certainly true in our house this past year.
Freshman year in high school for my son was becoming more and more miserable. No school work was getting done, at least not at home and reports from teachers said that he was always tired at school. He would often put his head down on the desk and zone out while in class. He told his teachers he had trouble sleeping at night. I told the teachers it was because he was gaming and on his phone "Snapchatting" most of the night. He refused to use the family charger and get that "thing" out of his bedroom to be able to get proper rest. But NO GO!
So instead of repeating idle threats, we took action to get his attention! We took his computer out of his room and out of the house. Boy did that shake things up! He came home and went ballistic! He turned over chairs, put more holes in the walls of his room, yelled and basically threw a tantrum just like a toddler would. Only he was much bigger and stronger. Funny how much the teen years resemble toddlerhood! Or truthfully, not so funny!
The timing of the computer removal was at the beginning of Mid Winter recess also known as Ski Week in our area. We had planned a family trip down the state to visit some of our family, his aunt and uncle and cousins. He said, "No!" and wouldn't get out of bed. He also said that he was sick and honestly I didn't believe him, but in fact he did have a low grade temperature and sore throat as we later discovered.
We tried and tried to get on the road and at then realized we were not going to be going anywhere. He was controlling our house and it felt like we were helpless. It was his way of telling us that he was mad that we took his computer away. We stood firm. He stayed in bed. By the time school was back in session the following week, he was still in bed and by now not speaking to us at all.
The silence was "deafening" as they say. "Would you like something for lunch?" I'd ask. No reply. "Are you going to take a shower today?" was another line from me, but no response. NOTHING. It was becoming a huge stand-off. At least it was a peaceful protest, but difficult for me to swallow, none the less.
If only he could use that determination towards a positive goal or school work. It was an amazing thing to witness. No talking, at all! For over a week. Until..........(check back tomorrow to see what broke the silence spell!)
Until then, I remain a CALM:
As I shared the story of what daily life with our 15 year old teenager was like, with friends and family, we received responses and comments like, "Oh, this too shall pass" or "That's typical of a teenager, don't sweat it" or "Don't you remember how you were as a teen?". Frankly, after hearing those lines repeatedly, even their well meaning intentions became hard to take. We were zooming into unchartered territory and choppy seas. Seriously, we needed dramamine in our house on dry land just to survive.
Our son's moods were controlled by the digital contact he had with his friends, by phone or computer. If he received good texts, he was somewhat nice. If the texts or posts were not, he was somewhat mean. If you asked him to do anything resembling a chore or household task, "I will, I will, later" was the response. Or with very good manners, he would often reply, "No thank you." He also would grunt and roll over while laying in bed, binge watching any number of Netflix shows. Occasionally, we could bribe him to go see a movie like "Rogue One" or out to eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant. But no sooner would we get home, his moodiness began all over again.
One particular holiday weekend we took him to do his favorite activity: play paintball. Not an inexpensive hobby, in reality. Even if you have your own paintball equipment, the paint balls themselves aren't cheap and that's what you need in order to play! We thought we were connecting with him, doing the fun things he liked, eating the food he liked, going to the movies he liked. You get the idea, all about him, just to keep him engaged. During this period of time, for some reason he had the door to his bedroom back on the hinges. (That wasn't always the case, because if a door gets slammed over and over, parts of the house start to fall apart, truly. So we removed his door a year earlier.) Can you say, trust factors?
Well, after what we thought was a good weekend for all of us, we smelled something unusual coming through the vents soon after we went to bed. We marched into a room filled with smoke and our son was just sitting there smoking pot. And what was shocking was that he totally denied it. We SAW it with our own eyes! WE SMELLED it with our own noses! And he said he WASN'T doing anything. I couldn't believe it. Really, right in our own house? You've got to be kidding me. All I could muster to say to him was that I was really disappointed in him, and turned around and went to bed.
The next morning he acted as if nothing had happened. I was still realing and very upset. He went to school and I called a therapist, for myself. Now to put things into perspective, I know many kids do this behavior and some can handle it, but not my son. He was also failing in school but never want to talk about how to improve the situation. So the only way left to get his attention was to take the computer AWAY. And what happened after that was surreal. The saga continues.......
Anyone else out there have difficulty with teens and their moods? How did you handle it or get through it? I would love to read any comments you have.
Hanging tough! Thanks for reading!
High School. Let that sink in for a moment. What does it really mean? You got it, my son got high in school! And he kept the iPhone connected to his physical person every waking and sleeping moment. Not to mention the amount of gaming on his computer that took place and you can see what a "wonderful" time it was at our house!
We didn't really know the extent of the marijuana use. There are ways to cover it up: stay away from home longer, use eye drops, stay in one's room in the dark. 9th grade can be a time when teens seek independence and have less monitoring by parents. They want to "hang" with their friends and not be with their parents as much. I get that, but in our case we were being pushed away every day.
On top of that, his computer and phone use was obnoxious. We suggested trying to take some time away from the devices and chill, but to no avail. A couple of our son's doctors suggested putting the charger outside of his bedroom and charge AWAY from where he slept, but that wasn't even an option in his mind. The net he threw out to friends and their friends was so large that "someone" would answer a text, join a snapchat or post some pics on Instagram. It was a full time job just keeping up with all the groups and "friends" he connected with.
Those devices became the biggest distractions from doing any homework at all. None, zilch, nada. And the grades reflected just that. "Do you have any homework?" I would ask daily. "Nah" is the refrain I heard over and over and over. "How is that possible? I've checked your online portal." He would tell me to get off of my computer and stop checking on him.
He was a master of avoidance, a student of social media and a habitual user of being connected. ALL of the TIME! His sleep was disturbed because he would answer or send a text in the middle of the night. I could gather some info from using a parent app connected to our phone service. I was able to squeeze out of him some of the repeated phone numbers and who they belonged to in his group of friends. But short of turning off the phone, which we did do a number of times, he was out of control.
Now, this is the part where I will say "don't judge". Some of you may have kids who actually responded to "NO", but our son was becoming a monster, no matter what we did. Honestly, his disposition was dependent on if a social media "friend" responded to his text positively or not. Sometimes he came out of his room to comment on the crazy election and we'd share a laugh. Other times he didn't speak at all. We were beginning to be held hostage by his moods related to his online conversations, use and postings.
I turned off the modem, I changed network passwords, I turned off his data. You name it, we did it and then some. I even pulled an important wire from his room to disconnect him and the next thing I discovered is that he actually "cut" the internet to our whole house! That didn't hurt him, he just went to the local Starbucks and used their internet connection. He was out for revenge!
One of the oddest things was his obsession with carrying cords and plugs and extra batteries so he could charge his phone from where ever he was. And he carried all these cords in his famous "backpack". Whenever he left the house, the backpack was with him. "What's in the backpack?" was our daily question. "Oh, just chargers, cords, batteries so I don't lose power", he replied. But sometimes, he did lose power. And, he was never without this backpack. He even took it into the bathroom with him when he showered. REALLY?
I do not consider that behavior normal, however it was very OBVIOUS that he was hiding more in the backpack than just cables and batteries. You can't believe what we found in there......Come back to the blog for the next post and find out.
Peace for now,
With the day to day exhaustion of 7th grade over, we headed into the Summer before 8th grade feeling guarded and still on alert. Clearly our son was unhappy, but as vacation took hold, things chilled a bit and the Summer of Nothing began.
What does that mean? Easy, he went to no camps (except for one week of house boating with a youth group), had no real plans, did lots of sleeping, played lots of video games, used his phone for hours and did lots of nothing. We went from a regular schedule of trying to get our son to school on time everyday to one that included no schedule at all. It was opposite ends of the spectrum for sure! I'm sure that sounds relaxing to some, but not ideal for a soon to be fourteen year old who should be kept busy.
It doesn’t mean that we didn’t try to make suggestions for a more productive use of his time. We did manage to take some short trips and to try all sorts of ways connect with our teen. It just seemed to be futile, with less conversation, less engagement, more seclusion and more silence from him. It was a terrible feeling in a household that once had vitality and energy. As normally positive people it started to wear us down.
I tried to keep the conversation going, but all we got were one word answers and grunts most of the time. As I shared our situation with other parents and friends, their comments included: “This too shall pass”, which happens to be my least favorite line of all time. What we were going through felt that we didn't have time to wait for it to pass, but what could we do? So we just kept trying our best to make it work.
Our therapist suggested that we get to know all the families of our son’s friends, so we did. We invited them to join us for get togethers, hikes and meals. The parents commiserated about their kids behaving in similar ways. We got to know all the kids in the new friend group. Our gut feelings told us that some of these friends were negative influences, and a very few were what I call the "good ones". We tried the old adage, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em".
No matter what we did and what we tried, the Summer of Nothing continued until the end of August. Thankfully then our last year of middle school began. Maybe, just maybe, new and positive patterns would develop with some maturity. Instead, we got back on the wild roller coaster of school again. Assignments were given, no home work was turned in. Emails and phone calls were exchanged with teachers and administrators. We were able to finally relax when they told us our son would indeed graduate from 8th grade because they socially promoted students, so he would have to move on to high school for their own needs. The middle school did not want fifteen year old 8th graders in their system.
We were very disappointed with the lack of help he received from the school, even though our son had an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) in place since 3rd grade. Some teachers cared, others didn’t know what to do. Well, we didn’t either. We asked for guidance but in a public school system their hands are tied and we felt like they dropped the ball big time.
And to top it all off, ALL the 8th graders were given iPads for the year to take home and use everyday for school work. Isn't that giving kids a mixed message about electronics? Stay off your phone, but the school iPad is okay? No "games" were allowed, but frankly the students were more savvy than the teachers, so who really knows what was going on? The school's defense was that they had the right to check any iPad whenever they wanted, to make sure things were safe for all.
I bought insurance for the iPad since I wasn't sure it would make it a whole year without a crack on the screen. (And believe it or not, it was turned in fine condition!) What work my son was actually doing on it for school was questionable. But at least for my son, the playing field was leveled to a certain degree since he was good with electronics. My biggest question has since become, but at what cost does keeping up with technology have on some students who truly can not self regulate and know when to put it down? Perhaps it was causing a dependency that we all would later regret.
We did survive our Summer of Nothing and our son's 8th grade year, barely. He did indeed move onto public high school and keep the same friends. But the challenges that were ahead of us turned into something we never expected. Come back to keep following our story. Thanks for reading!
Staying the course,
Announcing The Warrior Mom Life Facebook Page! Be sure to check it out today. It will be a place to share your stories with others and keep up on the latest info, articles, links and blog posts here at My Warrior Mom Life. Click on the LIKE button and watch us grow! And don't forget to tell your friends about us!
I've been asked, "What exactly is a Warrior Mom?" Well, it can mean many things, but in this case it is a mom or parent who never gives up. A person who is a survivor and it battling something out of their control. After all, everybody's got something! And if you have a teenager in your life, you know exactly what I'm talking about!
On our Facebook page, please feel free to share your tips on maintaining self-care, keeping a positive perspective and how to have a sense of humor even when your are up to your neck in shall I say, "stuff"! The biggest take away for me is to know that you are not alone! And that people around you do care! Let them in and you will be amazed at the support that comes your way.
Mixed in with all the good are those that want to give you "advise" on what you should do about this problem or that. Take it with a grain of salt. Thank them and move on. Or listen and take just what you want. Trust your own gut! Everybody's story is slightly different. And it's important to not compare. Just like many advertisements say, "your results can vary". Keeping the negative at bay is not easy, but you can do it!
And of course, it is advisable to just UNPLUG when you can. We all need some peace and quiet. Take a walk, go for a swim (as I will when I'm done writing this post!), read a book, call a long-time friend, weed the garden, play some rock and roll music or take a nap! Do something for yourself! It's just like the flight attendants say when you are about to take off "In the case of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on first, then take care of those around you!" If you do this, you can be a Warrior Mom (or Dad or Grandparent or Person) too!
Wishing you a safe and happy Labor Day Weekend!
Be sure to unplug!
Do you remember being 13? Did you look forward to becoming a teenager? Was it a good year for you? I can barely remember it myself, other than playing sports and becoming interested in photography. However, I do very vividly remember the summer my son turned 13, just before entering 7th grade. That year turned out to be doozy and "the wheels on the bus began to wobble", as they say.
The public middle school warned us parents that our kid's friend groups may change and that their interests may change as well, but that didn't prepare us for what actually happened in our house. Maybe other signs were showing up too, but one particular moment stands our clearly. It was Super Bowl Sunday and of course we were getting ready to watch the game with some friends. But not our son, he hates football. He was going to meet up with some friends and left on his skateboard. Soon after, I went into his bedroom for some random reason and was shocked at what I found. It was a bag of marijuana on the floor. I opened it and sniffed. Full disclosure, I never smoked pot, but had some brothers who did, and I immediately felt let down. "Really?" Oddly enough, those brothers have kids that are clean cut, so why did I have to deal with this? It was a pretty big bag of weed. This can't really be happening is what I thought to myself.
I was quite shaken up but didn't want to share this info with our guests. I hid the bag in my sock drawer. I decided NOT to let my son know what I found. After all, he wouldn't dare ask me if I knew where he lost his "weed"! I began to open my eyes and see what other signs and evidence was lying around. I found lighters, wrapping papers, open packaging from eBay orders with suspicious return addresses like stoner.com. It was becoming quite clear that his illegal pot activity was growing.
I was called by the school one day and was told that my son's name was being mentioned for a possible drug deal that was going down outside the local Starbucks. I intervened and questioned his friends, who all looked scared to death. But not my son. He just blankly denied it. More evidence would show up and I began searching his room when he left for school. It felt awful, but my detective work became a regular duty of mine. I'd find something, I'd dispose of it. He became more clever, I had to dig deeper. This silent game went on for the rest of the school year.
I brought up the subject of drug use with him and the research that showed the damage it had on the teenage brain and yet, there was more denial. Hold off for as long as possible is the advice from professionals, but Mr. Know-it-all didn't think it applied to him. I have since learned that his use was about twice a month in 7th grade, twice a week in 8th grade and every day in 9th. Who says it's not habit forming? My son had a problem and we as a family were suffering. To top it off, his phone use was getting out of control and he stopped putting it on the family charger at night. He held onto it 24/7 and simply became defiant.
He also had trouble in school in part due to learning issues that were finally diagnosed as ADHD and so meds were prescribed. His mood became sullen and his communication was distant. We sought help from professionals but they didn't get very far with him. So we continued to seek help for ourselves. I noticed tiny spots of blood on his bed sheets. Those were signs of "cutting" and he hid it by wearing long sleeves all the time, no matter what the temperature was outside. And then near the end of school year, his counselor called me to say they received an anonymous message that my son was talking about suicide. "The wheels on the bus were barely hanging on."
Ending this post with a cliff hanger.....more next time. Thanks for reading.
Keeping the faith.....
I've always said that the middle school years are the lowest of the low and for my son that was definitely the case. In fact, he has recounted his 7th Grade year as the pits! (That's my word. His word is not appropriate for this blog!) Seriously, things turned south for him at school and for us at home. We tried all sorts of things, therapy for him, therapy for us, meds for him, advise from family and friends for us. We did have some fun vacations, but we always said that our son was a great kid on vacation. We all enjoyed traveling. It always provided a needed break from the pressures of school.
New friends popped up on the scene. Many new friends. So with the advise from our therapist who specialized in teens, we became friends with their parents. We got to know all the friends, even the ones that weren't so "great". Instead of saying "Don't hang around so and so," (which might have enticed him to want to be friends with them even more), it became a scenario of "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em". Our strategy worked to a degree, but our son seemed unhappier and unhappier. He couldn't and wouldn't say why. And at this point, three years later, we still don't know exactly what caused this unhappiness.
We tried going to adventure and action movies with him. We paint-balled with him, at the venue where "moms play free". I learned more about paintball equipment than anyone should ever know. We took him to his favorite Mexican restaurant to "keep him talking". Nothing really worked for more than once or twice. Our therapist suggested some outdoor activities with groups of boys and older men, just to dig deeper into his primitive needs. It then became full on "WAR" (our therapist's word). We were engaged in a battle of wills. And it felt like a raging war. It was a dark time.
I sent emails to all his teachers asking for help. Most responded, one of them actually "got him". She said that our son learned differently and that he wasn't lazy. The new century still hadn't caught up with the learning needs for some kids. All the while, he floundered. We provided a tutor. He stopped going for help towards the end of the school year. We couldn't make him do much of anything. I might as well put $ down the toilet and flushed. Our son always had special classes for extra help, but those classes made him feel different. Strike one! Not easy for a kid who just wants to fit in and be accepted. And he didn't participate in sports because he wasn't as gifted as other kids. Strike two!
The biggest thing that happened during his 7th grade was the explosion of Social Media. I went to the monthly parent ed classes at the Middle School. I talked to every parent I could. I joined some of his questionable apps and tried to be a "watch dog mom". I still had access to his texting and computer communication, but he was quickly locking me out by making new accounts and passwords. The worst part as a parent is when you notice that you are becoming a master detective and your subject is your kid. Let me say right here, it feels terrible. Strike three!
I will have to leave you hanging until my next post........to find out what I discovered in my searching!
Until then, stay strong!
My son grew up in the Digital Age. He knows more about technology than his teachers and his parents.
He used my computer to play Minecraft when he was 10. He could spend hours building Minecraft things and showed others how to play. And then when I could never get online to check my email, we broke down and got him a computer, so he could "do his schoolwork" and get off of my computer. That would have been fine, except for the fact that he never did any schoolwork with it. FIRST FATAL FLAW!
As time went on, he took my old iPhones and used them as iPods for music and silly games like Doodle Jump. That seemed harmless enough, except that he found that he could get a FREE phone number on Google and set the old phone up as HIS phone using a Google number. Without really understanding what he was up to, he had his first phone, as long as he was connected to the internet. Remember he was only 10. SECOND FATAL FLAW!
He spent more and more time connected to this device. In fact he rotated between two old phones, so that one would always be charged. I didn't really give it a second thought. I believed that he would know when to stop. And that he would be able to control himself if he was tired or hungry. That was not the case at all. THIRD FATAL FLAW! What was I thinking?
Now before you rush to judgement, I was a super fan of all things APPLE. I stood in line for the latest releases. I had many subscriptions to Mac magazines. I loved this stuff. So if my son took a fancy to it, that was good, right? NOT EXACTLY. He was a child with a device. I didn't get my first phone until well past the age of 35 and actually used pen and paper to write in school. I was really spoiled when I received an electric typewriter for my High School graduation gift. My brain was already developed. Many folks were jumping on board to the latest in technology. What could go wrong?
The pressure was mounting as fifth grade ended. I had many conversations with moms and dads about giving our kids phones as they graduated from Elementary School. There were two camps: the ones who did and those who said NO WAY. Where do you think I was? That's right. My son got a phone. But it wasn't new, it was last year's model. And guess what? he cried when he got it! What? That's right, some of his classmates received brand new, latest model iPhones and he was not in that group. Peer pressure is the pits for all concerned.
What did we do to make it up to him? We bought him a Wii game. Most of his friends already had one of those and at least with Wii, one could be physical and move around with the sporting games especially. Well the Wii lasted a while: Lego Star Wars games, Wii golf and Wii skiing were fun. We were happy that we held our ground: last year's iPhone and this year's Wii. But NO XBOX.......
Stay tuned to what happened next in my next blog post. This story is just setting the scene for what's to come. It may sound familiar to some of you. Don't forget to bookmark and thanks for reading.
I am Warrior Mom. I am a self proclaimed Techy and I'm NOW calling a halt to the excess use of it! Let's put some balance back into our lives, especially our teens!
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