Saturday, January 31, 2009

My son, the kid that other kids and their parents do not like

I'm up very early this morning because Geoff has an event with the Boy Scouts today and I opted not to go with him. Doug didn't WANT to go with him, so we sent him solo. I'm worried now that may not have been a good plan.

This is an annual outdoor event -- they spend the entire day outside, doing winter things... winter awareness, winter site development, winter games. In years past they've slept over at the campground, no matter the temperature. They aren't this year, because we were going to observe Scout Sunday tomorrow. That got moved back, so some boys have changed their plans and are there the whole weekend.

Some call it the Klondike Derby, some call it Deep Freeze. I call it crazy.

I hate the cold and everything about it. I hate being out in it. I never feel properly prepared, or I over dress and then I'm uncomfortable.

I thought Doug was going to go, but he feels Geoff is getting really good at doing this kind of stuff on his own and doesn't need a nanny. He's right, but there are times that Geoff needs an extra external conscience to guide him gently. And this might be one of those days.

We have a really big troop. Some troops have like 10 kids. We've got like 25 and all are very active in the program. The new scouts who are finishing up Cub Scouts are with the troop today, and one of those boys is a young gentleman that Geoff does not get along with.

In December, they had an altercation in chorus that resulted in Geoff getting expelled from chorus. I didn't blog about it because it's been all Geoff all the time lately, and rarely is the news happy or good.

Suffice to say, he was devastated, and hates that he got kicked out and blames the other kid. Not himself, for his own actions... but the other boy. There is a lot of he said she said, there is a lot of conflicting eyewitness testimony... but whatever. What's done is done.

Geoff gets out of the car and goes over to his friends and I get out of the car to go touch base with the Assistant Scoutmaster about Doug not being there and what time will I be coming to pick him up, and I am intercepted.

"I'm Mr. S. A's dad. Are we going to have a problem today?"

Oh shit. Dude is huge and mad looking... and I die a little inside. Yet another kid that Geoff has wronged, and yet another parent pissed, only this one doesn't seem like "It's okay, boys will be boys and will work things out. Let's sit down and chat with them..."

I stick my hand out and introduce myself. He tells me that over this past week Geoff has repeatedly and very aggressively asserted himself towards his son in the hallways. He didn't know Geoff was a boy scout until yesterday when his son told him. And his son told him "I don't want to join boy scouts if Geoff is in the troop."


Damage control, spin, what can we do here. Doug's not going with in order to monitor and keep peace. I'm not dressed and prepared to go, I'm in pyjamas and I didn't even wear a coat. Crap crap crap.

We talk for a while and I tell him that I want to bring the boys together, have them spend a minute before they go, make sure that they're on agreeable ground, Geoff especially. He agrees and goes to get his son. I march over to mine.

"Geoff, I need you to..."

"There he is mom, that FAT ASS that ruined my life and got me kicked out of chorus. I hate hi--"

Oh hell to the no.

I put my hand in his face and said "Get back in the car, you're not going today."

He's stunned. Shocked. "Why!?" As if.

"I can't send you there today with A. because I don't trust that you'll behave yourself. You're a bully. And you're mean. And you're not being a good scout. And so you're done. Get in the car right now or listen to what I have to say."

He says "okay, what do you have to say."

"I need to know that you'll be a good man today. A good scout. A friend to incoming scouts, to show them how things are done. Remember how you felt coming into the troop, all these guys that you had never met. A. needs that kind of support and guidance, not someone who blames him for something that wasn't his fault. You cannot threaten him. You cannot menace him. You cannot make his life miserable and make him feel as if he's afraid to be here. I need you to step up, man up, be good, behave and come over to talk to him and prove you will be good."

"Fine, but just for today."

"Wrong answer, get in the car. We're done."

"Okay! I get it. I'll do the right thing."

We walk over to A. and his dad and Geoff says "A., I'm sorry I've made you uncomfortable. I will treat you with kindness and respect today. Scouts shake hands with their left hand so," he stuck his left hand out to A., who took it. A. thanked him and turned and walked away.

Geoff then turned to the dad, "I promise I will be kind to your son today, and won't give him a hard time." Geoff stuck out his left hand too to the dad, who also shook hands with him.

The dad and I continued to talk. I felt that Geoff was sincere, I didn't have to script or prod. He said the right things. I told the dad I would talk to the Assistant Scoutmaster and make him aware that there have been problems, and ask him to keep an eye on things.

The dad said some other things that I don't want to really get into. He implied that Geoff should be in alternate schooling and that eventually something may have to be done to stop him. I just let that kind of thing go. Dude is mad, and angry at my kid. And it is something I've grown to understand and expect, even though I don't like it and sometimes feel there isn't anything that I can do about it. I ended the discussion by telling the dad that it might be good to sit the boys down sooner than later, and have them talk things over outside of school and not at either's home. Geoff always does better with people when he learns that they are a human just like him. Over a cup of hot chocolate, talk it out and make things right.

It's the best I can do, right?

I flagged the Assistant Scoutmaster down and let him know that there is a history of problems between Geoff and one of the Webelos, and asked if he could keep a really close eye on Geoff and A. during this event. The cub master or Den Leader also came over to listen to what I had to say and said that he'll also be there to monitor the situation.

Geoff will be up at the camp until at least 10pm tonight. The Webelos are coming home at 4. So I'll quietly sit here and pray that the phone doesn't ring. And that when I pick him up later, there will be good reports.

Until then. Meh.

On another note, Jess is in NY this weekend.

A friend of hers from Rebel went to audition for colleges (theatre programs) in the city, and he and his mom needed a place to stay in/near the city for Friday night. Thanks to Facebook, the dad's status brought this to my attention and without hesitation I totally knee-jerk volunteered my sister.


Luckily, Linda accepted my volunteering of her house and hospitality with kindness and didn't kick my ass for it. And Doug suggested Jess go with them, and get some time with her auntie. I'm going to drive down to New London to pick her up off the ferry on Sunday afternoon -- and until then, she'll have a nice visit in NY.

Her friend is a great kid, and I am excited for him auditioning and picking colleges and figuring things out. Seeing as a year from now it will be us, I like that we (Linda is part of the Royal We) are able to assist in the process because who knows what we may need from someone in a year. I also thought it would be a good idea for Jess to see this auditioning process, even if she couldn't see the audition. She isn't going into a theatre program for college, she's pretty sure at this point. But knowing a process for something might make it easier on her brain should she change her mind.

They took the Fung Wah bus to the city and survived. It didn't roll over or burst into flames and no one died. Worth every penny of the $15 we spent on the ticket. And it reminded me of my time in college when my only real option was Amtrak for getting to NY to get home to see my family, stories of which I wrote about here in 2002. I wish there had been Fung Wah when I was moving back and forth between New York and Boston. I'm glad it is there as an option in case Jess ends up in Manhattan for college.

Speaking of which, I had a good long talk with my friend Rob K., professor of awesomeness at an esteemed Southern Region University. He used to be a high school guidance counselor, so he wanted to know where Jess was thinking of going to school or what her choice of program of study was.

He recommended a website to me that helps match the culture of the student with the right colleges and THEN the academic program. I told him that was ass backwards, that you should search for college based on the academic program.

He told me I'm insane -- if you pick an academic program and you're miserable at the college because the culture doesn't match you, well then what have you got? A miserable college experience.

How many of us picked our college because they had a huge and awesome marching band, or we loved football or basketball? How many of us picked our college because it was a state school or a christian school? And then we picked our academic program. You THINK you know you'll be a history or english major. You KNOW you want a strong literary magazine.

He had a point. Even though I think he's wrong.

Anywho, I went online and did the search his way, knowing a little about what I think Jessica wants culturally. Her criteria is simple. Nothing south of the Mason Dixon Line, but she'll go all the way to Northern California, Oregon or Washington. She'd prefer a 4 season kind of place, or at least a place that has winter. She hates the heat. So it has to be a place that isn't hot all year. Okay. I know that she isn't big on sororities or fraternities. She hates sports, and sports culture. She wants a good literary magazine and I think she wants to go to a small school (under 5k students total). I think she wants to major in Foreign Languages.

22 colleges came back with a match, and then it was asking specifics about the major. Colleges like UMaine Orono (hey! There's a LOT of winter in Old Town!) and even Rutgers came up.

We would need to really look at this more closely. I like the idea of keeping her on the East Coast, and UMaine Orono is only about 5 hours from here. So that would make me happy.

Honestly, I can't believe we're here, looking at these realities. It is overwhelming to me. Makes my head explode.

Okay -- I've got stuff to do. More later.

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