Monday, April 09, 2007

My broken heart

I am tuffenuff. There is not too much that life can throw at me that I haven't seen before. After all, I had a job for 25 years that showed me the ugly underbelly of society. Last Tuesday I got the shock of my life when the school called and said, "We have your son here in the clinic and he is drunk." I made them repeat it because I couldn't believe what they were saying. I said, "I'll be right there". Time slowed down, my mouth dried out. The 15 minute ride to the school took forever. The ambulance was out front of the office as I entered. My son was on the nurse's cot crying. He had a bloodied nose and lip from struggling with the police. Everyone gave me "the look". You know - poor you - your son has bad, bad problems look. I was numb. Preston was drunk out of his mind. I worried about the amount of alcohol that he had consumed. I have seen kids poison themselves to death this way. I have had to break the news to parents of teenagers who have done similar things. I had the ambulance transport Preston to the hospital. We spend the rest of the day in the ER, then went from there to the mental health hospital and spent most of the evening there. We finally arrived home at midnight. In retrospect it could have been much worse. My heart is broken. Preston has always been a good kid, always followed the rules and been respectful. He and his friend had decided the night before the incident that it would be fun to get a "little drunk" and go to school. They conspired to steal liquor from their respective homes and carry it to school in water bottles. Preston brought straight vodka in a water bottle; the other boy brought a mixture of whiskey and tequila. I guess the other boy only pretended to drink, while Preston "chugged" down the deadly stuff. I estimate that he drank 8 to 10 ounces. Having never been around alcohol before, he had no idea how much to drink. He starting getting sick almost immediately, and was taken to the clinic from his first class. He was talking crazy and doesn't remember most of the day. He was still puking at 10:30PM. The counsellors and psych doctor decided after talking to Preston, that he was not trying to deliberately harm himself, but rather made a really stupid teenage choice. He is suspended from school for 5 days, and we are participating in a drug & alcohol awareness class for the next six weeks. He will also be going to counseling. I am scared to death. All of his life I have been an overprotective mom; now I am just plain nuts. I am frightened to let him out of my sight. Needless to say he is restricted from everything. He just turned 17. I know teenagers want to spread their wings and try new things. I just feel like our trust is broken, and I don't know how to get it back. I tell you this story because I am looking for some advice from my blog friends. This summer Preston is scheduled to go to Europe for 10 days on a school trip. It will be chaperoned, but I wonder if I will be a fool to let him go. This is a chance of a lifetime. He says that he has learned his lesson the hard way, and vows to never go near alcohol again. What happens if another temptation presents itself? Will he be strong enough to resist? I have never been so distressed in my lifetime.

11 comments:

Paradise Driver said...

FIRST - Yes! Let him go on the trip.

SECOND - Since his first experience with alcohol went so badly, the odds are that he will not even want to go near it for a long time. The lesson that Mother Nature gave him was worse than any you could have contrived.

THIRD - Hug him, hold him and then, since he probably has little or no memory of all the event, make this whole incident into a funny story with him being the fall guy. Get your point across with humor rather than nagging. At 17 he has already learned how to tune you out when necessary but being the brunt of a joke will make a deeper impression on him.

My two-cents worth.

jellyhead said...

Hi Tuff,

I'm so sorry you've had such a stressful and upsetting thing happen to you, and to Preston.

I haven't faced these teenager issues yet as a parent, so I can't speak from any position of authority! But do I agree with Paradise Driver's advice. Maybe you could use the trip as an opportunity to say - 'show me again that I can trust you, and I'll repay that trust by still letting you go on the trip'. Because if you were to forbid the trip, that would likely only cause resentment, which wouldn't help things any. Realistically, within a year or so, Preston will consider himself to be an adult (I remember thinking I was soooooo grown up at 18!) and will be making his own decisions - good and bad.

I guess you'll just have to act calm and expect good conduct while he's away (meanwhile crossing your fingers and saying a few prayers behind his back!) After the scare he's had, he's unlikely to get up to anything terrible.

If you know Preston to be a good kid, then he is. Everyone screws up sometimes. He's still the son you know and love.

susan said...

ditto the first two comments

a lesson was learned

let him know you are there for him now and always, no matter what

teenagers

kids

not to undermine your grief, but mine was pregnant at 14...

know you are in our thoughts, you will get through this, I feel your pain

Motherkitty said...

Tuffenuf, I think this situation is more difficult for you than for Preston -- not only because you are the mother, but because of the terrible things you must have seen on the job.

I could tell you some "stories" about my own kids, but to what good? You've only just begun and this is the beginning of the end of your parental authority, believe it or not. When kids get 17, then 18, they automatically reject the parent's authority and think they know it all. I know because it happened to me twice. As a matter of fact, my children, ages 37 and 35, keep reminding me that they are now ADULTS and don't need mother to give them advice, so I don't. I bite my tongue because I think I've raised them right and they are now on their own.

The sad thing is that your son pulled this stunt at school which will go on his permanent record. Also, all this "counseling" is also on his permanent record. Future employer asks, "Have you ever been arrested?" or "Have you ever had psychiatric treatment or counseling for a drug/alcohol problem?" These so-called psychiatric treatments have a way of coming back to bite you in the behind if you're not careful.

I certainly feel your pain. My only advice is, let him go on his trip but take Jelly's advice. The worst thing you can do is make him embarrassed and resentful. You know, deep in your heart, that you can't shield your boy from everything bad in this world. All you can do is show him the right path and then let go. That's the hard part, letting go.

doubleknot said...

Motherkitty said it all. From all the things that happened when Preston took a drink - and thank goodness it made him sick - he will remember this. I think you should let him go on the trip. At some point we have to let go and trust that they will make the right choices.

Kerri said...

My heart breaks for you Tuff. Kids can do that to you, and it's a rare teenager who leaves you completely unscathed. Reading your tale of this unfortunate incident brought back some unpleasant memories of my own.
Humor would be difficult at this point, but maybe someday down the road you'll both be able to laugh a little about it.
Meanwhile, I agree that you should let him go on the trip. He needs to show you that he can be trusted, so you need to give him opportunities to do it (within reason of course), hard as it seems. He may not always keep his vow never to touch alcohol again, but I doubt he'll repeat such a foolish mistake any time soon. I know you're feeling betrayed, but this too shall pass, and he'll be the good son you know and love, again. Honestly! It just takes a while to get there.
Dealing with the humiliation is one of the hardest parts, but those who really know you both, know your character is solid and good. Try not to worry about the rest.
Sending you love, hugs and prayers Tuff. You are a sweet, caring, wonderful mother! And Preston is a good son, he just made a very stupid choice. I'm sure he learned a good lesson.
xoxo

Sandy said...

Tuffe...It's a lesson that we don't want our children to experience, but unfortunately things like this happen to the best of children. I just hope that Preston has learned his lesson by getting so sick and by seeing the disappointment & sadness he has caused you. I also know the embarassment you must have felt by having to go to the school.

The trip to Europe is a major event and I hope that by the time he is scheduled to leave that he has gained some of the trust back that he lost by his behavior. It would be a shame not to let him go and I think it would cause more harm & resentment. If this is the only incidence that you have had with Preston, then consider yourself mighty lucky...although I know right now it doesn't seem that way. He's a good kid and sometimes good kids make bad judgements. Give him another chance to prove himself and regain his trust. Let him know that he is still loved, even though you didn't approve of his behavior.

We, who are mothers of grown children have gone through rough times with our teens and like Kerri said, "it's a rare teenager who leaves you completely unscathed." I know you are going through a rough time right now but it will pass.

meggie said...

I think everyone before me, has said all the right things.
I agree, let him go on the trip.

Most good kids make some wrong choices along the way.
Most are lucky- or perhaps not- they dont get caught.
I do wonder that he made the choice consciously to do that at school-- some part of him knew he would be found out. Just a thought there.
He sounds like a basically really good person.

Terri said...

First of all...

I am sooo sorry... I can only imagine how you feel ....and how shocking that must have been...

but...
I do agree w/ paradise driver....

really and truly...
I was a pretty good kid when I was growing up ... as a teenager back in the late 70's...
and my teachers thought I was just the most perfect child....
NOT!
I did do some things that when I look back... scare me! My parents to this day don't know... They wouldn't believe it either...

We all do things when we're kids...he just got caught and... it's a lesson learned...

but I am with you...
I would be scared to... because you don't know if this is a slippery slope.....
and nowdays... there is so much tugging at our kids... so many negative things!!

I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers!!

Anonymous said...

Tuff - Been there/done that with Michael. Picked him up more than once from an ER where the police had taken him after picking him up drunk or stoned on the street. You and I both know that Preston is a great kid with a super Mom. Give him that great moral support and the hugs that you gave me more than once when my butt was on the line at work. Don't try and hold him too tightly and for Pete's sake - Don't - stop him from going on the trip. You will regret it until your dying day. There are so many mistakes I made with the boys that I wish I could take back. You know what they say about hindsight. He has an excellent role model in his mother and all will work out for the best. Love to both of you. Hiding in the High Desert

Anonymous said...

I agree with paradise driver. that is how I handled my daughter and to this day 25 years later she will not drink GIN, the smell to this day brings back the memories and the laughs we have about the whole situation. Preston will realize what a wonderful caring mother your are, but it may take a little more maturity. My four children didn't realize I was their unconditional loving mom until they were in their twenties, what a joy when that happened for me.