Friday, April 15, 2005

Family Matters

Just as I was in the lovely stage of drifting into dreamland last night...I hear 14's bedroom door open and the sound of his familiar steps down the hallway...they stopped outside my door. I shook myself to full alerness.

"Something wrong Honey?"

"Mum? What's that shaking?....the house is kinda shaking"

Our house is built on a slight hill...half of the house is built on solid ground...the front end is held up by stilts...well kinda, there's the flat and the garage that the front end is sitting on too...anyway, I digress....14's bedroom is at the front end of the house, and directly above the bedroom of the newly married tenants below *cough*

"Oh"....(I turned back the covers of the bed)..."Come hop in here beside me and I'll explain that to you" Anything to have a warm cuddly male body in bed with me...desperate sad woman that I am.

We had a quick chat about nothing that I can remember right now...then he asks again "So, what IS that shaking then?"..."Oh right, well that'll be the couple downstairs in bed"..."Huh?"...."You know...that's the tenants making love...it can shake the house a little sometimes"...."Oh" he laughs embarrassed.

*Rewind back several hours to earlier in the evening*

I received the letter from the school yesterday. It outlined the details of 14's suspension, and attached to it was a copy of the Incident Report that the Principal will be tabling at the board meeting next Monday night. When 15 came home from school, the two of us started discussing what was written in this report. 15 came out with a string of thoughts and reasons...he'd obviously been thinking about it over the past couple of days...so I asked him if he could sit down and write some of the things he'd just mentioned. "I won't write it...I'll just type it down for you"....I gave him the report to take into the privacy of his bedroom and he dissected that report, sentence by sentence...and came back with a fully typed report of his own...it was almost 2 pages long.

Here's a few of the paragraphs he'd written:

"This report says 'Despite interventions such as stand down, guidance from the Dean, and guidance from the Counsellor...'. While the stand down is relevant, we were not informed of any guidance given by the Dean. It is not even stated in this report. On top of that, we were not informed that 14 had already had an appointment with the counsellor prior to this stand down. To wait until now to tell us about all of these incidents and of the interventions involved is very irresponsible. Was 14 ever punished for any of the less explained situations? If so, why weren't we informed? And if not, why was it deemed not important enough? Does that make it important enough to present now, even though no action was taken against it?
Was the failure to inform us sloppy behaviour on the school's part? Or did they not believe it was their responsibility?"

14 did not threaten to kill Mr Blah. He did not say 'I'll kill you' in anyway, he said, 'I wouldn't care if I killed you'. Both 14 and Mr Blah confirm this. In the immediate situation, it may sound as if he threatened it, but he didn't. The way it was worded is a harsher way of saying 'I couldn't care any less about your life'. This would have been how it sounded to 14 as well. Regardless of the fact it is still disrespect, it shows the incorrectness of this line, and adds to the idea that this incident report is seemingly vague and possibly incorrect.

We have been informed of the reasons that a student can be stood down due to Section 14(1b) of the Education Act of 1989. One is if behaviour or disobedience is a harmful or dangerous example to other students at the school. The other is based on behaviour being a danger to anyone. The second one is irrelevant. 14 has not been violent or harmful to anyone so far. Witness students during Mr Blah's class say the chair caught on his foot as he stomped out of the classroom, and he did not deliberately kick it over, so there is nothing in this incident report branding him as a physical danger. The first reason is more valid, since the reason for this meeting is 14's continual disobedience. However, he hasn't often been disobedient in front of students, only in private talks, so how can it be an example to them?"

*Forward fast back to the pillow talk*

I eventually asked 14 how he was feeling about this coming Monday and the School Board meeting. "I'm really scared about it". The next 90 minutes of conversation involved his changes of behaviour, how he could help himself by recognising the triggers for his outbursts etc. This whole chat warmed my heart...it's the first time in a very long time that 14 has opened up and fully expressed himself to me. I mentioned how like his father he was...in a positive way of course....he kinda laughed at that.

"Don't you like being like your Dad?"

"Oh I do, but I'm not like him" then he quietly added..."I would love to be like him"

(This made my stomach knot when I thought about my ex and his alcohol consumption..nah, just kiddin, I knew that's not what he meant, but I wanted him to keep talking)

"Is there anything in particular about your Dad that you'd love to 'be like him'?"

"His intelligence"

"His sense of humour"

"His bravery...he's always very brave".

I was able to make comparisons and give situations from 14's past, to back up those three statements he made about his Dad. I was able to prove to 14 just how like his father he really was. I made him realise, that not only does he look so much like his father...but he also thinks like him...14 and his Dad are very alike in so many ways....I just don't think he ever saw how much before.

Earlier that evening, I had given him the 'report' that 15 had written in his defense. 14 was completely blown away by what his older brother had said....he was stunned that his brother had taken the time out to think about his situation and write down in such a frenzy how he felt about it. And he was touched emotionally, that his brother would step up to the plate and do his damndest to 'save' him.

This experience has been a real eye opener for me....I mean, I always knew how strong the bond was between my offspring...but I never realised that despite that bond, my youngest son has obviously felt like he was standing on an island alone. Having the support of his brother and father, who are both making it obvious that they're willing to fight and crush anyone or anything that could stand in the way of a healthy future for 14... has made him feel loved and wanted and 'accepted' as one of them.

This has been a negative and stressful time for all concerned, but I can see a positive light at the end of the tunnel for sure. Because even if 14 is "permanently excluded" from this particular college next Monday....I do believe he's finally starting to feel a part of this family. And isn't it interesting...speaking from a mother's point of view...no matter how much we love our children, and show that love in so many ways...they can still have so many stumbling blocks to get over, to make them feel accepted as one of the family 'in crowd'.
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