So for the past week I have been in a very high spirited and serious debate with myself (like I usually do). I have been fighting with myself about the prospect of getting another sales/life consuming full time job and then making a very persuasive presentation to my brother’s parents to have him move in with me for the remaining years of his high school years. Yes, I am very aware of the responsibility that would mean. I understand the financial responsibility it would take (I did the math and made a budget). I get all of that. Don’t think I make up these fantasies and ideals in my head and I don’t actually map out the reality of a choice like that.
The question you might be rolling around in your head is how or why did I come up with one of my infamous crazy ideas. Well, my friends, that is where our story begins. Since my move from the bay area, I do go back down to babysit for one wonderful family that I absolutely adore. When I am there I try my hardest to see everyone. This last trip included a visit to my brother and my dad. Naturally, my appearance was last minute and unannounced.
Upon my arrival and the usual hellos, I checked on my brother because a little birdy told me that he wasn’t feeling well and went back downstairs to hear the normal apocalyptic like outlook on life and the future of my brother. Back to the conversation of school. Oi vey! How many times do I have to tell this man how to be a parent?
Well here it was, he was failing a bunch of his classes. He had to attend summer school and do two online classes as well to catch up in school. If he doesn’t turn it around the school is going to send him to a different school called Redwood.
Let me tell you about Redwood. Once upon a time, yes Redwood was a school for failing teens, drug addicted teens, kids in gangs, and teen moms. They sent the “delinquents” there. I have known a few people who have gone there and excelled in their alternative teaching. Now these people are living good lives. 20 years ago I would cringe at the thought of my brother going there. Since then the school has turned itself around and now is an accredited high school and accepts students of all learning backgrounds.But my sperm donor refuses to look at it any other way other than a school for “bad kids”.
I gave him the same schpeel that I just gave you. Naturally, I knew that he wasn’t going to see it any other way. So, I told him use it to his advantage. Set up an appointment for my brother to tour there. Scare the reality into him. He doesn’t want to leave his current school then force him to face reality. But no, man won’t even do that.
Then he got into how they are going to therapy together. Poor Little Man (so everyone knows and can get the humor behind that comment my little brother is significantly taller than me). He was telling me how the psychologist is some crack pot that doesn’t know what he is talking about. Oh yea. This guy doesn’t know what he is talking about…but you do. Your family doesn’t speak to you, your children don’t talk to you, you believe your own delusions, your own son doesn’t listen to you or respect you as parent figure…but this man doesn’t know what he is talking about. Hmmm…right, moving on. This therapist told my dad to let my brother fail. You need to let kids fail so they know how to pick themselves up. They need responsibility. They need a sense of control of their life. So, let the kid fuck up and be sent to another school and I bet you he will turn it around. But no–this therapist doesn’t know what he is talking about.
I also mention the other school located in the district that might be better suited to my brother’s learning needs. Like the Charter High School. WHAT A CONCEPT?!?!?! Someone taking initiative! Holy Shit! I have stumbled on to something life changing. My other suggestion was following through with consequences. I remember a time a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, if I didn’t have all my homework done, cooked, cleaned, have the kids’ homework done and ready for bed I was grounded. I didn’t brush the dog because she needed a groomer I was grounded. For fuck’s sake I paid for my own phone with my babysitting money and that shit still got taken away. I paid for it!
But the man wanted a pat on the back because he turned his son’s phone off for a few weeks, took the ipod away during finals and the xbox for a little bit. Mind you no improvement on grades, no improvement on behavior, kids still doesn’t do chores but he now has everything back and still gets money whenever he asks for it. Parent of the Year.
While I try not to yell at our dad and simultaneously tear out my eyeballs and rip off my ears with my bare hands, I can’t help but feel awful for this kid. My poor boy. It really isn’t his fault his parents don’t know how to be parents. It isn’t his fault, but that isn’t really an excuse. They didn’t really parent me either and I turned out “fine”.
Then I remember all the times he brings up that he does so much better when I am around. He tells me things like he feels better when I am around. He wants to do better when I am around (this melts and breaks my heart all at the same time, but don’t tel the kid this or he might try to use it to his advantage). His friends make comments that I am more like a parent. People notice that he listens to me and respects me than his own parents. A sad truth but no one said the truth was nice. This leads my mind to wondering how I could turn his life around in probably a period as short as a semester. Here is how:
First off, he would have chores like a normal kid does. Homework comes first…then everything else. Homework gets checked every night. Teachers will sign off on a log that he turned in his homework and participated in class (the participation is not something I am worried about). He has to spend at least an hour outside doing something. I don’t care what it is but if the weather is nice he should be outside. He gets 1 hour of xbox time or tv time. If he wants to fuck up, privileges get taken away and EARNED back. If that doesn’t work we get more chores. If he doesn’t see the importance of school I know many people that would be more than happy to take him on a weekend and show him what a GED or not having a diploma gets you.
But I honestly don’t think if he were in my hands that it would ever get that far. He is a good kid but, he is slipping through the cracks because his parents are letting him. No one will take responsibility for him. That kills me. It breaks my heart and I spent a good 10 minutes fighting off tears. The poor boy is only 16! 16! He doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment from people who are supposed to love him.
I have been dwelling on this thought for some time now. I know what people are going to say. They are going to remind me it is not my responsibility. Then whose responsibility is it when his parents won’t step up to the plate? Do we let him just slip through the cracks and pray he crawls out ok? Who intervenes and gives this kid a fighting chance?
I have crunched the math and financially I would have to be making what I did in the Bay Area and possibly give up going back to school for the time being to see him through this. I could do online school but I just don’t see myself being successful at that. I need to physically get up get dressed and go somewhere. I learn best with human interaction. I ask too many questions as well.
I know I wouldn’t be in on this on my own. I would require his parents to pitch in and help. After getting the usual lecture, reminder that I am crazy for doing this and it isn’t my responsibility to take care of him I would have the support of my family up here as well. I would never be alone in doing this. I would first have to find a full time better paying job or maybe two. Then I would have to look into schooling online because I am not giving up that dream and I think it would be a great example to be setting for my brother.
I want to help him so badly but I don’t think I am in position to do so right now. That bothers me. The fact I can’t rescue him really bothers me. But I can make a commitment to myself to save as much as I can this year, work my ass off and maybe I can make this happen. Maybe, it can be something like he can stay with me next summer and then something else might evolve out of it. I will do something about it. I’m not going to let that kid slip through the cracks.