Beau's friend Greg hauled off and kicked Beau's brand new, super-expensive, birthday computer at school yesterday and broke it. Beau has to take the laptop to school from time to time because some of their assignments are created and then presented on computers. Yesterday's assignment, the one I was so worried about -- the evil spooky Klan one -- had to presented in Power Point Excel, and it had to be at least thirty pages long, with graphics and sound, so he had to take his computer.
Beau and some of his friends were all sitting on a couch after school waiting to be picked up. Beau says that his younger friend Greg, (Beau's in eighth grade and Greg is in sixth), had been acting weird, was being mean and annoying, and was particularly upset that he wasn't allowed to come over and hang out with Beau at home here after school, so that may be why he was acting up and pestering Beau. Beau's battery was dying because he'd been using the computer all day, so he got out his power cord out and was trying to find a place to plug it in. He was having trouble getting the computer to stay on, but he thinks this is because it just needed to be charged for a bit before he could use it, because he had let the battery die down completely. It would boot up and go through all of the Windows screens, he'd get to his desktop but then he'd get the low battery sign and it would turn off. So he had closed the laptop and left it plugged in near the outlet on the floor, charging it by the foot of the couch.
Greg was fighting or arguing with some of the other boys. He'd offer them gum and then say, "Psych," and pull it back. Beau got sick of Greg being a jerk to everyone so after telling him to knock it off several times he said, "Greg, stop being such an asshole." Greg sat on the back of the couch and one of the boys pulled him over it and onto his lap and they all started tussling. Then Greg got mad and in a flash of anger kicked Beau's computer and ran. After Greg kicked the computer Beau checked to see if it was alright and it was completely dead, no lights, no booting up, just nothing. It wasn't okay for Beau to call him an asshole -- I'm not saying Beau doesn't share the responsibility for this, calling another person a name isn't alright with me, leaving it on the floor, where it wasn't safe -- but it sure wasn't okay for Greg to kick his computer.
I was so pissed off I took Beau, my Mother and her housekeeper Rosa, (who were in the car with me -- I was helping Mom do errands), straight to Greg's house to have a little chat with him and his Mom. I knew that Greg knew he was in trouble and would do what he could to beat us to the punch. I felt certain that he would get to his mom first and make up some kind of story that would make Beau the bad guy in this somehow because that's what he does.
Greg is super smart and very manipulative. Everyone who knows him knows that he lies, while so far, cross my fingers, I haven't had any problems in this area with Beau. He tells me pretty much everything, and I'm really happy that he feels like he can come and talk to me about anything; friends, school, homework, teachers, girls, sex, drugs, anything. While Beau is this kind of sloppy, Goth-looking, big, shy kid who swears, but is honest and kind, Greg looks good and can run circles around anyone verbally but is constantly fighting with his sister, lying to his mom, (saying he has migraines to get out of going to school), and is flunking most of his classes. He is super precocious and very challenging. He communicates like an abrasively rude mini-adult, but behaves like an angry child. I've never met anyone like him. However, like always, and with pretty much anyone I get to know, I've become fond of him and care for him. There is something sweet or helpless about him, something in him that is hurting, and that makes me want to mother him. I always feel like he is acting for me, that everything he says or does in my presence is for an intended effect -- as an actor I recognize this easily in other people.
This is the same little boy whose mother, (of all things a child psychologist), couldn't handle him or his sister the other night, (neither of the kids would tell me what they'd done to drive her away, she forbade them), then ran away to a hotel and left him with a babysitter who she knew was going to have to leave both of the kids alone at night for a few hours, necessitating my having to drive over there after dark when the kids panicked because they thought there was someone trying to break in to the house. I had to get up, put my clothes back on, and head over there with my hurting bladder. I checked the yard and house for bad guys, calmed the kids down, and spent an hour or so waiting for the babysitter to return.
So getting back to the computer story, I called Greg's mom, told her what happened and asked if we could come over to discuss what happened. I felt that the appropriate thing to do would be to give the two boys the chance to tell us what happened, then as adults we'd be able to sort out fact from fiction. She told me we could come over but when we got there she had changed her mind, probably because Greg had caused a big emotional scene, I don't know, but when we got there, oddly, she wouldn't let us see Greg. She wouldn't even let us come in to the house, she closed the door behind her and stepped out on the porch and spoke in a whisper as if she didn't want Greg whoever was inside to hear what was going on outside. She made my almost-ninety-year-old Mother , who was clearly in pain, stand outside while we talked about how Greg is, "Just now processing the rage he's been suppressing over the death of his Grandfather."
She agreed to pay for the repairs to the computer, but it still doesn't sit right with me that she didn't force Greg to come out to apologize to us. I made her at least listen to Beau's side of what happened because I knew Greg would be telling her a different version if he hadn't already, and I made Beau own up to his having called Greg an asshole, and I made him apologize for this. I don't know why I am always so responsible, or why I always make Beau own up to everything -- make good when he does wrong, when he has NEVER had a single friend whose parents have ever done the same for us.
Greg's Grandfather died two months ago. It's really sad. He had ALS and has been dying for as long as we've known him. I feel very bad for both Greg and his sister and their mom. There's a possibility that she's right, that he did suppress his grief and anger for a while, and that after a family therapy session that he had last week that it's finally coming out in very inappropriate ways. But I'm not really buying in to this, something doesn't feel right. Greg was this way before his grandpa died, and he's just kind of morally ambivalent, as Scott would say, and at a gut level I don't feel totally comfortable around him and don't trust him. And now, with Beau having lost something that was such a sacrifice for us to give to him -- his brand new birthday computer that he loves so much and has only had for two weeks -- I can't help but feel even more mistrustful of Greg.
If his Mother does keep her word and comes through for us, and Beau only has to suffer the loss of the use of his computer for a few weeks then we're all good, but if the situation becomes more complicated than this, I don't know what I'll do. It's so hard being a parent, really, I know I say this allllll the time, (it's absolutely worth it, but it's hard. Of course it doesn't help that I'm doing a ton of homework about Death of a Salesman where the main character has the most unrealistic and unfair expectations for his sons. I think every parent thinks their child is more special than others, that their child is smarter, brighter, and more special in some way, and I know that we all want our kids to be happy.
It hurts me that even with sending Beau to the best schools that we can find and can afford that it is super hard for him to find nice friends with good families. I wonder where these people are -- the people I dreamed he would make friends with whose parents would be so wonderful that we would all want to become friends. We started out this way when Beau was going to Sunshine preschool, but then everything collapsed when the Mother of one of his friends accused Scott and me of stealing her diamond earrings. I've written about this before, it was a long and very upsetting episode in our lives, but in the end it turned out to be this woman's son who had stolen the earrings.
The damage this did to our reputation, and to all of the relationships I had with the parents of Beau's friends at that time, was immeasurably destructive, and actually changed the course of our lives. Had this not happened Beau would have gone to a different school entirely. He would have gone to our parish school, a local private Catholic school, and everything would have been different. Although I'm not sure it would have been for the better. In fact this is one of those areas where I need to remind myself that everything happens as it is meant to. But those had been sweet idyllic times in my life as a young mother, and in Beau's little life, and they seemed to hold such promise, although maybe these were false hopes because those friends proved not to be true friends. You really can tell who your real friends are in trying circumstances.
Bad News -- An Update;
Greg, who had been calling incessantly since last night, and who Beau had been hanging up on because he's so upset, got through to me and told me his version of what happened. If only you could have heard him. He is so earnest when he wants to manipulate a situation to his advantage. I mean it, I pray that his mom will come to and discover this before things get so much worse for both of them. Unless I'm the one who's completely deluded here.
You know what, I've already gone on about this for way too long. I seriously don't want to waste any more of your precious time than I already have. I know it's your choice whether you want to invest the time it takes to read my entries, but I just can't see imposing much more of this on you. Basically Greg's story is that Beau's computer was broken to begin with. Beau was an abusive bully to Greg. Beau's friends were abusive to Greg. He had been called names and roughed up and was almost justified in kicking Beau's computer which was really not much of a kick, just a tap with his foot.
The problem with Greg's version of the story is that, as any good parent should do, I checked out his story before accepting it as truth. There were witnesses and they backed up Beau. I asked all of the kids who had been there what they had seen, and if they felt that Beau's version of events was fair, and everyone -- even some girls who weren't in Beau's class and aren't particularly close to him -- and they all told me the same story, that Greg had hauled off and kicked Beau's computer and then ran.
Nevertheless I patiently listened to Greg's version of the event. I told him that it was not alright with me for Beau to call him names or play roughly with him. I told him that I would talk to him about this and that I was sorry. But I also told him that two wrongs don't make a right and that he could easily have called for help or could have done pretty much anything other than destroy another person's property in anger. I told him that I would send the computer to Dell, and that maybe we'll get lucky and the warranty will cover the repairs. Since Greg thinks Beau broke his computer by spilling candy into it, I told Greg that as an honest person I would ask Dell to tell me whether they thought the damage was as a result of anything that could have been spilled into the computer or from the force of a kick. I told him that I would not ask for a dime from his mom if I wasn't certain that the damage was because of what Greg had done. I even told him that once everything was resolved that he could continue to be Beau's friend, because he was worried about this, but that I thought he should leave Beau, who was very upset about what happened, alone for a few days.
Then about an hour later Beau told me that Greg was calling again, and Beau, who had been hanging up on Greg because he's so mad at him, said that Greg said that if I wouldn't come to the phone to speak with him that his mom wasn't going to pay for the computer repairs. I got angry, picked up the phone, and told Greg not to threaten or manipulate us this way. I told him to put his mom on the phone immediately, and she got on and in this breathy controlled voice proceeded to tell me that she didn't appreciate Beau's having blamed Greg for something that he didn't do. She said that Greg told her the computer had been broken before he kicked it and that she wasn't going to allow Beau to "set up Greg." She said this about Beau setting up Greg several times.
I don't know if you can imagine how upsetting this was -- having this woman's child KICK Beau's brand new computer that we haven't even paid for yet, then not be willing to even discuss the situation in person, hastily promising to pay for the repairs while shooing us away from her house, and then the very next day reneging on her promise and shifting the blame to Beau, but it felt so awful, and I think I could have predicted this. The only thing that had made me hopeful was her being a therapist, I made the mistake of assuming that a child psychologist would handle something like this so much better.
She said that Beau had done this before -- blamed Greg for something he himself had done. This is so out of character for Beau, honestly, and when I asked her what on earth she was talking about she said she couldn't remember. I know that Beau can be careless with his things, but he has no reason to lie to me. I would get upset and be disappointed, but I wouldn't punish him, and he isn't mean, and is so fair that he would never lay the blame for something he did on someone else. He has such a big heart and would feel way to guilty to do something like this. I mean when Steven knocked a big keg of root beer, (that should not have been in Beau's room), over and spilled the whole thing into his brand new printer, he knew I'd be upset but he came and told me. He always tells me the truth. Why would this be any different?
Anyway I kept my cool, I tried to talk to her, I patiently listened to her point of view and then explained why I didn't think this was the truth. I told her that this is what I was afraid would happen if we didn't have the conversation with the kids that I thought we'd needed to have yesterday. I told her that now this was all going to devolve into a case of he says she says, and I reminded her that I am not the one who has a problem with a child who lies, to say nothing of the fact that Greg has already done something like this before. He broke his sisters computer recently when he stomped on it in a fit of anger.
I tried to be kind, patient and understanding. I explained about the issue with the battery. I told her that I wouldn't ask her to pay for anything if Dell didn't tell me it was as a result of impact damage. I told her that I would ask them to check and see what might have caused the problem in the first place and that if it was in any way Beau's fault that of course we would let her know and pay for this ourselves. I asked her if she thought it was okay for her son to have kicked Beau's computer no matter the reasons and she defensively said, "of course not Jacqui! But I think Beau set him up." Let's see, according to her theory, Beau broke his brand new computer and rather than come to me, he made things worse by plotting to get his friend Greg so angry that he would kick it, further damaging it so that Greg's mother would be forced to pay for the repairs. It's so far fetched it's hard to describe this to you in writing. Finally after making absolutely no headway at all with her I said, "Sherry, I think Greg is very, very, very, very smart. He's so verbal and so smart that he may be a genius. But he is also very good at talking his way out of things." She was so outraged that I dared to say this, (after she had accused my son of something far worse than being a smart little genius) that she kind of gasped and indignantly said, "Jacqui, I am not going to talk to you any more," and then like a little child hung up on me. Can you imagine that? A therapist getting so flustered by a conflict involving her own son that she actually hung up on another parent? Wow!
Okay that's it, I'm done, I think I've gotten this out of my system for the moment. I promise my next post will be more upbeat. Maybe I'll feel well enough to edit some new pictures of the kittens that Beau took and share them with you. Cross your fingers and say some prayers for me?
Love you guys,