Melissa is the thirty-something mom to 9 adopted, Easy-to-Love children all between the ages of 11 and 4. One of her children is in public school and the rest are all homeschooled while she work on her Master’s in mental health counseling. Life can get a little crazy sometimes, but it is always interesting!
Two days before Christmas break, my 8-year-old easy-to-love son put the local elementary school and high school on total lockdown. This was only six days after the horrible school shooting in Newtown, CT, one day before the December 21, 2012 “End of the World” was supposed to happen, and on the same day that (unknown to us) students in various towns around our state took guns to school and put other school systems in other cities on lockdown. To say that the local police and sheriff’s departments were edgy, and that the school administration were nervous would, I’m sure, be an understatement.
My son has been diagnosed as ODD, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. One counselor suspects FASD as well and another says that’s “hooey,” but regardless of this Ds, my son certainly has some issues with impulse control alone with his other challenges in life. He’s an amazingly talented kid who is very bright, can be very sweet and loving, but also has a stubborn, defiant streak a mile wide that we have been working on since he was placed in our home four years ago through foster care.
This particular day, in the space of the five minutes where I went to lie down with a cold and my mother in law went downstairs to fix lunch, my darling son stole the cell phone, hid in his room and called 911 to report that he was in the school lunch room and that his best friend had just been kidnapped by a man in a black trench coat and black and white striped pants. Yes, the two schools went into complete lockdown while children were accounted for, classrooms were searched, and frantic parents arrived at the school to find out what was happening. Through all of this, my husband and I slept blissfully on, unaware of the havoc that our child was wreaking on the city.
We were woke up by my mother in law nervously telling us that two police officers were asking to speak with us. This led to me listening to the 911 and positively identifying which of my 9 children was the prank caller, being driven home by the Sheriff to pick up my son and husband, and the three of us sitting in an interrogation room at the Sheriff’s Department for three hours trying to get our son to confess to his crime. At one point we were joined by the Assistant County Prosecutor who threatened to remove my son from our home if he did not confess, a threat which, because of the abuse my son suffered in the foster home he was in before we adopted him, threatened to shut my son down further and terrified him beyond the ability to communicate. We were finally allowed five minutes to talk to our son alone, during which we took the opportunity to remind him that he is loved and that this situation would never change how much we love him. At these words of love our son broke down and confessed what he had done and FINALLY apologized. Three hours of interrogation and pounding had only made him angry and defiant, but a reminder that we loved him broke him down? That still baffles me!
We took our son around to talk to the administration at both at the elementary school and the high school and to apologize for what he did. I have made some very close friends at the elementary school, and was so embarrassed about what my son did that I thought I was going to throw up. One of the teachers came to hug me and I burst out sobbing and wailing in a way I have never heard myself do before and clung to her for a while before going with my son to “face the music.” Thankfully, the administration knows our family well and understands our children’s circumstances, so while they were stern, they were also caring. The superintendent of schools was also very kind, and offered any help she could provide.
Here we are, two weeks later and we are still waiting to hear what if charges are going to be filed against my 8 year old for falsifying a report to 911 and lying (initially) to police, and if so, what the consequences of those charges will be. Our son will start community service, mandated by his dad and me, up at the school to pay back a little of what he did. My husband and I are finally able to chuckle a little about the situation (when our son is not around of course), but were sucker punched two days after Christmas when the story made the front page of the county paper.
Everyone keeps talking to us about how our son will learn a lesson from this, and how he will be able to be an example, but my husband and I both know the sad truth. Perhaps our son will learn a lesson from this, and wouldn’t that be great? But most likely the next time impulse strikes, he will charge ahead regardless of these experiences. We have learned a lesson though! The phone now goes to bed with us!