Bad Situations Lead To Bad Choices.

I don’t even know how to write this.  Living as someone who is often amazed that my life is what it is, I’m even more amazed now.  But, this time, not in a good way.

William.  We’ve worried about him so much over the years.  We’ve watched him struggle and we’ve watched him succeed.  Sometimes, we’ve been so amazed at his character and sometimes we’ve wondered if he would ever stop lying to us.

He’s had his share of struggles.  This year, he’s struggled the most.  Stories of bullies which could not be verified.  Rapidly deteriorating grades.  Internalized anger turning external.  And, an increasing tendency to fight back, instead of taking it.

Today, an awful thing happened.  Today, William got caught with a weapon at school. A box cutter that he found in our kitchen.  I had forgotten that we even had one.  But, when I was trying to open a package, Kaleb brought it out for me.  It made my task easier and, apparently, gave William an idea.  Because, a couple of days later, he pocketed it before heading to school.  He wanted to intimidate the kids who mess with him.  Since they don’t back off when he tells them to, he wanted to give them a reason to take him seriously.

Well, there’s a lot of people taking it seriously now.   

Even though, I love to cling to the idea that he impulsively grabbed it that morning and, therefore, use his ADHD as a rationalization; the fact is that he wasn’t feeling so impulsive when he took the time to switch it to his PE shorts’ pocket when he dressed out that day.  Then, he participated in a game in P.E.  Then, it fell out of his pocket.  Then, all hell broke loose.  This is, of course, very lucky.  Because as much as we hate what is happening now, we are so relieved that William didn’t pull the knife on somebody and that nobody got hurt.  Besides our hearts, of course. 

So, that morning, I got the call.  I actually got two calls from his school, that day.  The first was to tell me that he had skipped a “Learning Lunch” that he received because he didn’t turn in a homework assignment and that he would, therefore, have lunch detention.  I thought that was pretty bad, but I had no idea how bad it was going to get.  Not long after, I got ready to head to Target, armed with a birthday gift card.  (Shopping Therapy is the best!)  But, then I got the second call.

I listened to the Dean telling me that William had brought the box cutter to school, that it was a level 4 offense, was an automatic 10 day suspension, and that a committee would decide if he could come back to school or whether he would have to go to an alternative school.  I didn’t know what to say; I think I just made a lot of gasping sounds.  How could William, my sweet, gentle William have gotten to this point?  Who the hell was this kid that she was talking about?  The only thing that didn’t surprise me was that he told a couple different stories about why he had it before he finally admitted the truth.  (Come on, Will.  No one buys that you brought it so you could cut your nails.  The nails that you don’t have because you bite them constantly…)

I remember sitting there for a minute, listening, and then hopping in my van.  Somewhere in my denial-filled mind, I was under the impression that I was still going to Target.  Until, of course, she clarified that he needed to be picked up and asked if I was nearby.

“Yes, I’m in my van.  I was going to go to Target, but I guess I’ll come there instead.” Then, I laughed as if it was funny.  She didn’t laugh back because it wasn’t funny or well-timed.  Usually, my jokes are way funnier, but usually, my son isn’t getting suspended.

I picked him up.  I listened to them tell him the same stuff that we’ve always told him.  How it’s important to tell the truth, make good choices, etc.  And, when I asked them if the committee would take into account that he’s been bullied, she pointed out that he had been involved 50% in the cases that I reported.  I could explain that this was because he was trying to defend himself, but since he wasn’t telling anyone the full story, he had no credibility.

I went to a meeting, the next morning, with the vice principal, the guidance counselor, and his English teacher so it could be determined whether or not his ADHD was relevant.  But, everyone agreed that it wasn’t.  Again, I pointed out that I understood why they were now officially recommending the alternative school (for the remainder of the school year), but I wanted it on record that we truly believed that this was a textbook case of being bullied until he just didn’t know how else to cope.  That he tried to defend himself, in horribly unproductive ways.

Basically, no one bought it.  Again, it was pointed that he had been involved.  He had cursed, he had yelled, he had allegedly kicked, and, he, of course, had brought a weapon to school.  They mentioned the story of the boy who cried wolf.  I assured them that we had said the same thing to William many, many times.  I went home, depressed, and, unsure of what to say to William so I continued to avoid him.   

It could’ve been so much worse.  Nobody got hurt and we are so grateful for that.  But, still it is pretty bad.  And, after the initial anger subsided, we were so painfully aware of how lost our son is.  He’s lost because he’s being picked on, he’s lost because he’s making some awful choices, and he’s lost because he’s lost virtually any chance of anyone believing anything that he says at the school (and, sadly, at home, too).

Lucky for us, this happened a few days before spring break so we’ve had lots of time to dwell and talk to each other and lecture him and talk to other people and I’ve had plenty of time to cry. 

We were initially fine (so to speak) with him going to the alternative school, but then we heard the reactions of people who were familiar with it and their horrified reactions.  Then, we weren’t so sure.  We talked about home schooling (still are); William then told us that he wants to go back to his school.  Why??   The counselor thinks his best shot is to just go back to his school.  Personally, I think that would be difficult since most of the kids have probably heard what he did.

Anyway, I was notified today by the vice principal that the official meeting to decide his fate will be on Tuesday.  I told her that we no longer think that he should go to an alternative school, still stand by our belief that he was reacting to years of being bullied, and that we were considering home schooling if he was assigned to an alternative school.  She told me that if we home schooled, he would never be able to come back to public school without first doing his alternative school time.  And, that if we moved to another school district, they would probably make him attend their alternative school, first.  She said all of this in a nice way, for the record, just making sure that I had all the information. 

We feel so trapped in this situation of William’s making.  He is both the victim and the perpetrator.  I’m so worried and angry.  And, I can’t seem to talk to any of these school administrator people without nearly bursting into tears.

Friday, we go back to counseling.  Saturday and Sunday, we distract ourselves.  Monday, three of them head back to school.  And, Tuesday, we find out William’s fate.

I don’t know what’s going to happen.  I don’t know if they’ll decide that he’s a danger and that he needs to be in an alternative school or if they’ll decide that he just made a bad choice (really bad choice) and can head back to school.  I do know that I’ll give up all my beloved recliner time to home school him, though.  Because I don’t want him being picked up from our front door, walking through metal detectors, and being treated like a juvenile delinquent because he was scared and desperate and no one was helping him. 

I’m not naive.  He’s done and said things that he shouldn’t have.  He has been dishonest and impulsive.  And, of course, he has brought a box cutter to school.

But, this is a kid who leaves “you’re a great teacher” notes on his English teacher’s chair, made all of his teachers cards on Valentine’s Day, and walks the kids with special needs to class so they don’t get lost.

This is a kid who has been bullied and didn’t know how to cope.  This is a kid who made a desperate move which backfired. It could’ve been so much worse.  Someone could’ve gotten hurt.  It could’ve been William, it could’ve been someone else’s kid. 

I’m hurt, mad, scared, angry, and worried.  I’m mad at him for putting us in this situation.  I’m mad at the other kids for putting him in this situation.  I’m mad at the schools for not having teachers in the locker rooms or more teachers in the hallways and not seeing what’s really happening.

But, I’m grateful for this wake-up call.  I’m grateful that it made me aware of how important it was to get him into counseling.  And, I’m grateful that we have the opportunity to make his “It gets better” moment happen now.  He could’ve become a statistic.  He could’ve become a horror story.


He’s going to become something amazing. 


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20 thoughts on “Bad Situations Lead To Bad Choices.

  1. As a mom of a 6 year-old whose caseworker keeps asking me if I am ready to inpatient treatment her yet. I say this. I love counseling it is what has allowed me to keep my girl with lots of early trauma and abandonment fears at home. It sounds like you are doing a great job of dealing with a really bad situation. Remember that you are amazing and you are raising a amazing boy who will with lots of work and even more love and coping skills will become an amazing man.


  2. My advice: get a lawyer. This is an absolutely horrid response from the school. I am a former middle school teacher and now a university professor in education. There are a few things about your situation that I would like to point out:1. The fact that the school system at large is so dead set on sending William to alternative school is appalling. You came up with a good solution (home school for the remainder of the year) and they still insisted that no matter what he would have to go to alternative school if he ever wanted to return to public school.Why?Alternative school is being used as a jail sentence. That's why. And it will not do any good or solve any problems.2. 10-day suspension is useless. Suspension in and of itself is useless. It does not help the child at all. It takes the out of the school, and out of a situation, but a suspension is a form of punishment. It is not a way to help anyone deal with whatever issues got them there in the first place.3. Zero-tolerance policies show no record of working. Again, this gets back to the fact that no one at the school level is working to resolve the problem. They want to push William out – or any child in a similar situation – but they do not want to help him address the issues.4. It is absolutely appalling that you, your husabnd, and William are sidelined while other people get to decide his fate. Why do you not get to attend a meeting that has significant recourse for your child? You should be angry.Ask them how these policies will help William. Ask them how the policy of removing William will help other children understand not to bully. They won't be able to tell you.Get a lawyer or consider a good private school.


  3. I'm so sorry. Our foster son (11) feels bullied at school, partly because he's intellectually disabled and often doesn't understand that people making jokes around him aren't actually talking about him. His past has trained him to fight back – this week he called someone the N-word on the bus. He's hit people. We work so hard to teach him that violence won't solve things, and how to effectively problem solve. But, seemingly like your son, his own behavior causes at least half the problems he ends up in. At the root though, he's so anxious and never feels safe. Last night he gave me a big lecture about how he knows he's not safe at our house because we don't have a gun to shoot someone if they come to shoot us. And this is absolutely a product of his past (in which guns, honestly, did not protect people whatsoever).However, his behavior plan involves locking sharp objects, so things like knives, screw drivers, box cutters, etc. are all in a lockbox. I guess he could get scissors, but I don't think it would count the same as a \”weapon.\” If weapons are a problem for your son, I would recommend the locking strategy. Doesn't solve the core issue, but does prevent a lot of problems while you seek help.


  4. Other commenters have advice.All I have are prayers and virtual hugs. Lots of Hugs for all of you: ((((Emily)))) ((((William)))) (((((all the Parkers))))


  5. Wow, it does sound like our boys have similar reactions. I'll definitely keep locking things up in mind. I usually keep scissors, etc, out of reach. But, honestly, until now, I was just making sure that Lizzie and Antwan couldn't reach them. This situation changes my perspective on that. Thanks for the support and good luck on your end! 🙂


  6. Thank you for all of your advice and thoughts! Everything you say makes total sense. Bullying is not getting better and punishing the victim has been going on forever. 😦 And, I absolutely agree with that suspension is pointless, especially when they send kids for skipping. (What??) Now William who was already struggling academically is falling further and further behind. The good news is that we do get to go to the meeting. Initially, they said no, but because of his 504 plan, we are allowed, thankfully. Brian was able to arrange to go in to work late so he can come, too Yay! I'll keep all of this in mind today. Thank you for your support!


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