Posts Tagged With: activist

SCARY PRE-TEEN AND TEENAGE YEARS

A few years ago I was in the habit of walking my dog just before dusk closed in. On one particular late afternoon we walked past our local baseball park and I noticed that far beyond the field in the grassy back corner under trees a half dozen portly men were sitting at a picnic table. It seemed they were all dressed in black. It was autumn, and the sky was darkening and they looked like silhouettes perhaps playing cards.

This became a daily scene, and more young boys on skateboards showed up. I was uncomfortable. I notified the local law enforcement agencies. They promised to do a drive by but did not seem to be concerned: there was no law against gathering in a public park in daylight.

My arthritic spine ended my dog walks, and I turned my mind to other things. During which time my 15 year old grandson, who attended school in my neighborhood, began asking if I would bring him a sandwich and some juice a big jug so he could share. His parents both work odd hours and the kids are left alone in the mornings to get themselves dressed, pack a lunch and off to school. So I did this, never EVER considering that they might be pouring a liter of vodka in it. My grand-daughter enlightened me of that scheme. I’m from the 57 Chevy days, I guess. All my boyfriends and both husbands had a 57.

One day my daughter stopped by on the way home from work, concerned about the fall in her son’s grades. They had never been great, but now they were a disaster. I said I could help, if he could come over to my house after school, have a snack and do his homework. He had always loved to come to my house,   but now he only came a few times.

He said he preferred to do his homework at home, as his house in a cul de sac undisturbed by street noises, and he quit coming.

My spinal issues got worse and I stopped walking with my dog as I was having a hard time remaining vertical. l forgot about the picnic table in the park for several months.

Grandson got consistently poor grades. He cut school. There was nobody at home until evening.  And he was suddenly an angry child.

I spoke with my daughter a number of times, reminding her I had taken a 60% cut in salary just so I could have access to the school: my boss allowed me to take lunch any time I wanted to. I was likely to show up at 9:00 am, noon, or 3:15 pm, carrying a sweater, book, some cough drops or a hanky that I “thought” they forgot.

Of course I was checking up on them. And I sacrificed: I worked locally for 1/3 the wages I could have made had I continued working in San Francisco. I was not going to let them snow me like I did my mom!

I took the salary cut, my kids were worth it to me, and the results prove my decision.

What was very different from the ‘80s, when my children were in junior high and high school is that fewer parents know enough to make themselves “unexpectedly available.”

Too often a common reason is they feel compelled to keep their jobs are fear of losing a great paying position or just unwilling to sacrifice. It’s important to note that during my parenting time employers were a lot more flexible with allowing parents “parenting” time.

These are days requiring a different set of values for child rearing, and I am first to admit that my big-fat-watchful eye did not catch one of my children before they got in a very precarious “predicament”.   This is no perfect plan:   perhaps because of this, I was more watchful.

Well, despite my efforts to keep grandson in line, I was not up to today’s standards: not alert enough to begin questioning the middle school kid about drugs & alcohol.

Hence, the purpose of this blog.

The grandson I knew “disappeared”.

Nobody knew where he was, or if they did they didn’t tell me. He was picked up by the police, wandering in the dark as a minor, (several times.) There were physical altercations at home, and he was now a surly and disobedient child, very tall child, and way too brawny.

Finally he disappeared. Parents had given up: he was violent, and he refused to follow family rules. The cops had been called and it looked like he was heading for Juvenile Detention. To his father’s credit, he did everything he could and more to keep grandson from going to Juvy. And then he disappeared.

So it was Grandma, going places nobody wants to go.

I started with the Vice Principal of the High School, who was pleased to see me proactively searching for a solution to a terrible problem.

His hope was to have Grandson back in school, and on track to college. Instead Grandson ran away.

His parents were worried, the police couldn’t find him and I was terrified.

So, I worked from home: I had already made him dependent on me and my wheels, and there was a method behind it: “in case of emergency….”

I now knew who grandson’s friends were, and who their parents and sometimes neighbors were: I got their addresses and cell phone numbers from him… because he asked me to cart him around in my car & gave me all my phone numbers which I promptly put In my address book under G for Grandson.

So I started my searching: I drove from Tom’s house to Jim’s house to Kevin’s and Damon’s asking the same questions of the parents: When did you last see him? Do you know where he went? Do you know of other friends that I might not know?   And can you give me addresses/phone numbers please. They gave it all to me.

I searched for a couple of days. Then came the evening, a dark and rainy night, when I was driving down a street near home. It was nearing midnight, and I recognized that long lanky frame. No umbrella, no jacket, wearing only a soaking wet hoody for warmth.

I pulled over and asked if he wanted to come home with me and warm up with something to eat and some hot chocolate.   He snarled at me asking me why I was bothering all his friends.

What was I doing! I said I was finding him, of course, so do you want something to eat?

I was unwilling to engage in a battle with him.

When we got to my house, I explained I wanted him to do an online search for me, feigning Elder Web Idiocy. I led him to the office and sat him down, saying nothing.   And when he snarled at me again, asking what I wanted him to look up, I said the name of Jeffery Dahmer.

I spelled Dahmer’s name for him, and he quickly typed it in, gasped and fell into horrified silence.

Finally he breathed “..He, he ATE THEM?” He looked at me, a really tall little boy now.

“You bet Grandson that is what he did: he searched or shall we say “shopped” for troubled young men wandering the night and invited them to his home, literally for a meal.   Get it?”

He nodded his head, shaken and pale.

We talked about growing up and the things one needs to learn, and how for a while longer he was going to have to check in with family or friends parents when he had questions, doubts and problems.

“It’s all about your brain growing up, you know. You’re plain risky when you don’t have an adult brain!”

Today he is working only two jobs, he dumped the third. He wants to buy a car and stashes most of his paychecks in the bank; and he is busy working on his GED.

I can tell by his voice and demeanor he likes the man he is turning into and that light-hearted bond between loving parents and child is definitely improved. He is no longer angry with me.

Melanie Wood

1388 Words

Blogged 8/28/15

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FOGGING BROTHER JOHN

 

 

My only surviving sibling, my half-brother John is 87 now. He is my favorite of all those discovered family members. He is the one I have turned to in times of distress, a fatherly element in my life.

John is also one of my proudest “accomplishments”: I personally turned him from a die-hard Republican into a ticked off Republican who turned Democrat. To the extent that he really wanted Hillary Clinton as President.

But it was not easy. I’m not a political activist other than participating in a few demonstrations here and there for things I feel are very important, but the administration of George Bush #43 got my attention: it was clear that other interests were running the Bush White House.

I believe oil was his reason to rid the world of Saddam Hussein. I won’t go into the transcripts of the Downing Street Memos other than to say PM Tony Blair was his chief back-up man. It can all be found online or in the many and profitable books explaining it all.

For me the screeching in the back of my brain began the evening Colin Powell, a great and good man, stood before the American public and said weapons of mass destruction were being manufactured and stored in Iraq. He just didn’t walk his talk. I became frightened, for I knew we would attack eventually. And so we did.

I was greatly disappointed when George W. Bush took office, and alarmed when he was voted in for a second term. I knew I had to get off my duff, so I protested, I wrote letters, yelled at my congress reps. And I called my old Bro John frequently, and when he answered his phone with his customary “Hullo” I always responded with “Well, are you scared yet?”

John just laughed and said “Awww, Sis, you know I’m a straight ticket Republican just like my old man !” Then we would both laugh and go on to our sharing of non-political gossip.

For three years our conversations were like that. I was “fogging” him deliberately, no arguing, no insisting, no questions, just ask and move on. After a couple years of such phone calls I suppose he got off his duff and investigated what I was hinting at. The day came when I asked if he was scared yet and there was heavy silence. And then he let it rip: he finally realized that Eye-Rack war was a trumped up……and so on.

He told me he re-registered as Democrat and he thought Hillary Clinton would be the best candidate for President. And he converted all his friends and extended family who lived in the tough farmland of the California Central Valley, told them they must watch what goes on in political and corporate America much more carefully now.

I’m certain they understood the timing of the financial collapse of the world and America’s part in it, and quite probably they helped President Obama get his second term.

The “fogging” technique is something I learned from my therapist years ago. It works very well over extended periods, a quick and light hit at the subject then move on. Combative persuasion rarely works, but piquing curiosity on an issue invariably works if one is willing to spend the time.

Fogging is exactly what commercials on media do. It’s what Hitler recommended when he said:

“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/adolf_hitler.

 

 

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