Getting Help


computer programming

My fifteen year old son is technology whiz. He can code and program with the best of them AND take most things apart. Putting them back together is more of a challenge however. I remember days going to a local thrift store and buying rotary dialing phones and other old fashioned electronics for him to fiddle with, for pennies on the dollar. It seems that he may have some kind of future in that broad field of computers or engineering.

But, in order to be able to get a job down the road, completing school is important. That goal became a problem during the second semester of his freshman year. My son’s interests started to change. He seemed anxious and depressed. Something had to be done. He was not himself anymore.

My son has gone to doctors for his ADHD meds since 7th grade. But after going to one for a while he decided that he didn’t like that one anymore and would refuse to go to any appointments. Ugh. So I had a brilliant idea. I said to my son, “Find a friend you trust. Someone who likes their doctor and get that doctor’s name and I’ll make an appointment for you.” Agreed, at least their would be some street cred if a friend suggest it! I called and started the process of my son becoming the new doctor’s patient. This psychiatrist has his office in the next town from us, so it was pretty convenient to see him. He required a couple of consultation appointments before therapy would begin which seemed fine to me. The only draw back was the expense, wow was he expensive. Gulp. I made it happen.


I filled out the paperwork before we met and gave a history of some of the challenges and problems that we were having as a family and for my son as a teenager. Where to begin?  I compiled a laundry list of problems to work on. It seemed so daunting: ADHD and school failure, marijuana and negative friends, technology addiction and just plain ‘ole defiance were at the top.

The first thing the doctor said to me was, “Let’s talk about Plan B”. I replied, “What’s that?” And he continued………(find out more in tomorrow’s blog post)

Ever hopeful,

13 and the Beginning of Teenage Life


Do you remember being 13? Did you look forward to becoming a teenager? Was it a good year for you? I can barely remember it myself, other than playing sports and becoming interested in photography. However, I do very vividly remember the summer my son turned 13, just before entering 7th grade. That year turned out to be doozy and “the wheels on the bus began to wobble”, as they say.

The public middle school warned us parents that our kid’s friend groups may change and that their interests may change as well, but that didn’t prepare us for what actually happened in our house. Maybe other signs were showing up too, but one particular moment stands our clearly. It was Super Bowl Sunday and of course we were getting ready to watch the game with some friends. But not our son, he hates football. He was going to meet up with some friends and left on his skateboard. Soon after, I went into his bedroom for some random reason and was shocked at what I found. It was a bag of marijuana on the floor. I opened it and sniffed. Full disclosure, I never smoked pot, but had some brothers who did, and I immediately felt let down. “Really?” Oddly enough, those brothers have kids that are clean cut, so why did I have to deal with this? It was a pretty big bag of weed. This can’t really be happening is what I thought to myself.


I was quite shaken up but didn’t want to share this info with our guests. I hid the bag in my sock drawer. I decided NOT to let my son know what I found. After all, he wouldn’t dare ask me if I knew where he lost his “weed”! I began to open my eyes and see what other signs and evidence was lying around. I found lighters, wrapping papers, open packaging from eBay orders with suspicious return addresses like It was becoming quite clear that his illegal pot activity was growing.

I was called by the school one day and was told that my son’s name was being mentioned for a possible drug deal that was going down outside the local Starbucks. I intervened and questioned his friends, who all looked scared to death. But not my son. He just blankly denied it. More evidence would show up and I began searching his room when he left for school. It felt awful, but my detective work became a regular duty of mine. I’d find something, I’d dispose of it. He became more clever, I had to dig deeper. This silent game went on for the rest of the school year.

I brought up the subject of drug use with him and the research that showed the damage it had on the teenage brain and yet, there was more denial. Hold off for as long as possible is the advice from professionals, but Mr. Know-it-all didn’t think it applied to him.  I have since learned that his use was about twice a month in 7th grade, twice a week in 8th grade and every day in 9th. Who says it’s not habit forming? My son had a problem and we as a family were suffering. To top it off, his phone use was getting out of control and he stopped putting it on the family charger at night. He held onto it 24/7 and simply became defiant.

He also had trouble in school in part due to learning issues that were finally diagnosed as ADHD and so meds were prescribed. His mood became sullen and his communication was distant. We sought help from professionals but they didn’t get very far with him. So we continued to seek help for ourselves. I noticed tiny spots of blood on his bed sheets. Those were signs of “cutting” and he hid it by wearing long sleeves all the time, no matter what the temperature was outside. And then near the end of school year, his counselor called me to say they received an anonymous message that my son was talking about suicide.  “The wheels on the bus were barely hanging on.”

Ending this post with a cliff hanger…..more next time. Thanks for reading.

Keeping the faith…..

Wheels on the bus were falling off

The Middle School Years

I’ve always said that the middle school years are the lowest of the low and for my son that was definitely the case. In fact, he has recounted his 7th Grade year as the pits! (That’s my word. His word is not appropriate for this blog!) Seriously, things turned south for him at school and for us at home. We tried all sorts of things, therapy for him, therapy for us, meds for him, advise from family and friends for us. We did have some fun vacations, but we always said that our son was a great kid on vacation. We all enjoyed traveling. It always provided a needed break from the pressures of school.

Many New Friends

New friends popped up on the scene. Many new friends. So with the advise from our therapist who specialized in teens, we became friends with their parents. We got to know all the friends, even the ones that weren’t so “great”. Instead of saying “Don’t hang around so and so,” (which might have enticed him to want to be friends with them  even more), it became a scenario of “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”. Our strategy worked to a degree, but our son seemed unhappier and unhappier. He couldn’t and wouldn’t say why. And at this point, three years later, we still don’t know exactly what caused this unhappiness.


We tried going to adventure and action movies with him. We paint-balled with him, at the venue where “moms play free”. I learned more about paintball equipment than anyone should ever know. We took him to his favorite Mexican restaurant to “keep him talking”. Nothing really worked for more than once or twice. Our therapist suggested some outdoor activities with groups of boys and older men, just to dig deeper into his primitive needs. It then became full on “WAR” (our therapist’s word). We were engaged in a battle of wills. And it felt like a raging war. It was a dark time.

Help Us Please, Teachers

I sent emails to all his teachers asking for help. Most responded, one of them actually “got him”. She said that our son learned differently and that he wasn’t lazy. The new century still hadn’t caught up with the learning needs for some kids. All the while, he floundered. We provided a tutor. He stopped going for help towards the end of the school year. We couldn’t make him do much of anything. I might as well put $ down the toilet and flushed. Our son always had special classes for extra help, but those classes made him feel different. Strike one! Not easy for a kid who just wants to fit in and be accepted. And he didn’t participate in sports because he wasn’t as gifted as other kids. Strike two!

Social Media Explosion

The biggest thing that happened during his 7th grade was the explosion of Social Media. I went to the monthly Parent Ed classes at the Middle School. I talked to every parent I could. I joined some of his questionable apps and tried to be a “watch dog mom”. I still had access to his texting and computer communication, but he was quickly locking me out by making new accounts and passwords. The worst part as a parent is when you notice that you are becoming a master detective and your subject is your kid. Let me say right here, it feels terrible. Strike three!