This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bear's joyride

This is my description of what happened. I sent it to Bear's assistant principal at his regular high school, the principal of his special school, his therapist, and the psychiatrist's liaison (he met a new MHMR caseworker just that morning, because he lost his old casemanager/skills trainer when he aged out of the child side of the program. The new caseworker decided he would be placed at the most basic level because he's not homeless, actively suicidal or homicidal or psychotic. So we are not assigned a caseworker, we just get whoever is available if/when we come in. I'd talked to her on the phone (along with a dozen other people) and she wasn't any help.

I was on campus (dropping off paperwork and picking up “sick” Kitty) when around 2:20pm, I saw Bear in the hallway in front of the AP office with a group of kids, one of whom I recognized as a kid Bear claims is a drug dealer {and Kitty finds wildly attractive}. I’m pretty sure Bear saw me, but he ignored me. I went to the nurse’s office and was told Bear hadn’t taken his midday meds (– a mood stabilizer, anti-anxiety/ADD med, and an anti-depressant), and because he was planning on going straight to the game after school {Bear is on a team that drags a 750lb metal mascot around the field every time their team scores. It is approved by the school and has a faculty liaison, but is run by the parent of one of the kids, and the teacher rarely actually supervises}, he couldn’t just take the meds at home if he missed them.

I went out and looked for Bear in the hallway to remind him, but he was gone. The SRO {police officer that is permanently on campus - it's a BIG high school} happened by, and I asked him to send Bear to the nurse if he saw him {How sad is it that on a campus of 3000 kids he knows Bear by sight}. I then asked the nurse to have Bear pulled from class if he didn’t remember to come in (lunch ended at 2:30pm) and left with Kitty.

3pm the nurse called me to say she couldn’t find him and I started calling around the school to see if she’d sent the aide to the wrong class because of his new schedule, but I couldn’t get hold of anyone. About 3:30pm I got a call from Bear saying he’d been in a car accident (he was so upset I couldn’t understand him at first). He had first called Ms. C {neighbor and family friend}, because he hadn’t wanted us to know. She came to the Sonic on near the school, where he’d hit a post and some landscaping with a girl named K’s car. Ms. C apparently talked him into calling me.

The police were already there when he called me (Sonic manager called them). Bear does not have a driver's permit or a license, and therefore is not on our insurance. He told the police he did not have any photo id, but eventually got out his Texas ID card and his school ID. When the police officer confronted him, he claimed he forgot he had it. He did receive a ticket for driving without a license. There were no other legal consequences because this happened on private property.

Within minutes of talking to me, he started yelling that he was going to the game (he brought it up and was already yelling at me before I even agreed with him that it was probably not going to be an option), and that he was never coming home again.

Ms. C and I both spent quite a bit of time trying to calm him down and explaining that running away wasn’t going to solve anything and he needed to come home. He mentioned going to live with one of his teammates. I told him he had to take his meds (he knows quitting cold turkey could kill him) and I couldn’t in good conscience give them to this kid (administration of his many meds is incredibly complex and lately Bear has shown a tendency to take them or not take them any way he wants – I found over 40 tabs of his anti-depressant/sleep med in his room this weekend and several doses of his other meds – one of the reasons he ran away). He then said something about going back to stay with the family of a girl in the neighborhood again (she lives across the street from Ms. C who I do trust with his meds because of her own kids’ meds, and who had been administering his meds when he ran away at the beginning of this week). Hubby said the police officer reprimanded him for being verbally abusive on the phone.

I called Hubby and he headed over there. The police took the names of the students in the car with Bear and took them back to school. Bear apparently texted his last period teacher to tell him he’d be late because he’d been in an accident.

The girl Bear borrowed the car from, came over after school ended. Originally she told the police that she’d only given Bear the keys to get something out of the car. She later confessed to the police (out of earshot of her mom) that she’d loaned him the car. Apparently not only is this not the first time Bear has driven someone else’s car off campus, but it wasn’t even the first time that day?! The girl’s mom arrived and was apparently VERY IRATE. This family is a very close neighbor. Bear dated and dumped the girl's sister, who then “stalked him and threatened him.” I talked to the mom once when Bear started dating the sister and once when she came over to retrieve the girl’s phone that Bear had “borrowed.” We are not her favorite people. Her fiancĂ© was there as well and is a former manager of Hubby’s. *sigh*

Hubby informed the mom that Bear is 18 now and this is his problem. The damage to the car will most likely be covered by their insurance. Hubby says the Sonic manager just wanted Bear to leave, so maybe there won’t be financial consequences there.

Bear had money for food at Sonic and on his person that we don’t know where it came from. As of Sunday he was broke. Little nervous about where he got the money.

Hubby decided to allow Bear to go to the football game. While waiting for the game to start, they talked about relationships and running away. Bear believes we should be royally pissed at him (we’re not), and this terrifies him and he cares what we think, so he is running away.

Hubby had told Bear that if he left home we would take him off the mascot team. Bear had already contacted the dad of the Ms. C's neighbors that he wanted to stay with, for a ride to the game (I thanked him when he showed up at our house and sent him off).

All his teammates told Bear he'd made a bad choice and is jeopardizing his spot on the team, but after making him sit out for 2 scores they let him participate (they were short handed).

Bear threw up at Sonic and after the game. He has told me that he frequently does this when he’s overheated and stressed (he was both). He told the school's assistant principal (Mr. AP) that he threw up at Sonic because he'd been dipping and drunk a milkshake (then realized he'd just confessed to dipping again and tried to retract it).

At game, Bear disappeared at halftime and when Hubby found him he was talking to the drug dealing kid who had been in the car. Mr. AP had a chance to briefly talk to Bear at the game.

We’d met with the psychiatrist that morning. He basically told Bear that he needs to continue to take the anti-depressant/mood stabilizer, but he can drop to 1 ½ tabs if it’s making him groggy. Bear took two tabs with his other meds last night at 10pm when he got home. Hubby woke him up at 8am, but he went back to sleep. I woke him up again 5 minutes before his bus was due (8:30am), and he got his meds and made it on the bus. He never did get his midday meds yesterday.

We’re not sure what to do because Bear is obviously not prepared for getting a job and living on his own in less than 9 months. Pulling him out of the vocational classes {to put him in the special school longer each day} seems counterproductive toward that goal, but at the same time he obviously needs more supervision. Most of his problems seem to be focused around lunch hour, so possibly ISS {In-School Suspension} or shifting his schedule so that he is at the special school over the lunch period? Maybe being at the special school in the afternoon on A days so he can keep the vocational metal working class? We’re leaving this up to you guys to work this out. We’ll keep you posted and see you at the IEP meeting on Tuesday! Good luck!


Hubby and I had a long discussion about consequences. Hubby suggested he write out all the laws he'd broken, and what could have happened (if he'd hit another car or a person for example). I thought about it and felt that if WE give Bear consequences then Bear will focus on US being "mean" to him, rather than taking ownership of his actions and being accountable. I'm thinking a "Love and Logic" approach might work well for us here. Empathy: "Wow, that really sucks!" and Accountability: "So what are you going to do about it?"

Plus, the list is already pretty extensive as to what his consequences will be.

Bear's natural consequences so far:

  1. Ticket for driving without a license - fines, and could delay getting his license- if he ever can.

  2. Trouble with his teammates, and possibly being kicked off the team.

  3. Teammates aware that him as a possible roommate is not a good choice.

  4. Ticket for "Disruption of Class" - just found out that Bear and another girl, entered the classroom of the car owner to get the keys to the car and "persuaded" her to give them the keys. The SRO decided to give them both a citation.

  5. ISS - In-School Suspension while at the regular ed school while Mr. AP investigates, which could take several days as he has many other duties, including attending IEP meetings!

  6. Sonic and the girl's family might decide to sue for damages. Harder with the girl, since she confessed to letting Bear drive the car (not just on this occasion), but if he didn't tell her he doesn't even have a learner's permit she might have a case.

  7. Possibly going back to special school for more classes, which means he'll most likely lose his vocational classes which he enjoys.

  8. Suspension of his Senior privileges (which includes going off campus for lunch).

  9. Loss of trust with his parents, siblings, LOTS of people - fewer unsupervised activities.


Mr. AP let me know that he's still continuing his investigation, but he did find some new facts.

  • Bear let it slip that he's been dipping again. He claimed he threw up at Sonic because of the dipping and drinking a milkshake, instead of the heat and stress.

  • He also confessed to leaving campus with the girl on Tuesday and Wednesday and driving to McD's. Even though the girl was with him, he drove both times.

  • He did leave campus twice that day, and was seriously late to one of his classes (possibly absent, but the teacher hasn't turned in attendance yet).

  • Bear seems to be contrite and "get" that what he did was wrong. Mr. AP acknowledged that while Bear knew he needed to think twice (or 4 times) before he acted, that in reality, Bear doesn't seem capable of even stopping to think ONCE. *sigh*


Anonymous said...

So sorry about all this!
Another natural consequence is that nobody is going to let him drive their car anymore. And of course, if she'd asked, Bear would have said he had a permit or even a license. She probably didn't ask.
It is, however, very nice that this happened at age 18 rather than 17. (Nice that you are not financially liable.)
But seriously! Why did the school let him have senior privileges in the first place?! Aren't those for people who, um, have worked hard to become seniors?

The getting sick thing is worrisome. What is "dipping"? (Tobacco?)

Maybe in order to keep people from giving him fodder for doing stupid things, you could get his forehead tattooed: "Do Not Feed The Bear"

marythemom said...

STS - I don't think that this will necessarily effect whether or not other friends let him drive or not. Kind of depends on whether or not they hear about it.

The school let him have senior privileges, because they has nothing to do with "earning"- just grade level. Plus, he's been doing pretty well, which seems to be in direct proportion to how much supervision he gets. When they decided to give him fewer classes at the special school last time, he acted out to get back in. Same thing this time. Maybe they'll learn from this. His ARD is Tuesday.

Yes, dipping is tobacco.

ROFLOL! LOVE the tattoo!

The getting sick thing for Kitty is freaking me out. Long post of the results of her ARD in the works.