IMHO Installment #48: Be Glad If Your Children Aren't Assholes

24 May 2007

The guy in the next office has two step-sons. They're both assholes, from what I gather. However, the older one is far worse; he's 16, drinks, takes drugs, is flunking everything, and generally doesn't give a damn about anything. Of course, I've just described half of all 16-year-olds, right? But I never liked the kid much myself, and even accidentally got him in trouble once. So why not rant about his a little?

This little bastard has been in and out of rehab for a couple of years, has run away numerous times, has "ADHD," is on Prozac, Ritalin, and all sorts of other crap, and is probably on a fairly straight path toward pulling a VA Tech incident. He told his mother that his life's ambition is to be a drug dealer. (And he wasn't kidding.) I guess times have changed a little, as I can't imagine what my mother would have done had I ever said anything like that to her.

Sure, he's had a screwed up life. And he's young, and he's the child of divorced parents, and his dad's an alcoholic who doesn't want him, and he's probably not currently getting the attention he needs, and there are a million other reasons he's doing what he's doing ...

Aside from whose fault any of this is, the parents have now decided to throw money at the problem. They're planning to send the kid to some reform school. Anyone want to guess the tab for this little experiment? The guy stopped by my office a while ago, leaned on the door and said, "It's going to cost $9,000 ... "

Before he finished, I thought to myself, He wants me to think "per year," but I know that's too cheap ... So, I asked, "Per ... semester?" (thinking myself a bit more savvy).

"Per month !" he said. Seemed less pissed about it than I would have imagined, actually. Usually, he talks about wanting to throw the kid through walls.

You know, I think there's a general range that describes the quality of all parents and children. It goes from exceptionally good (rare) to exceptionally poor (not as rare), passing through every level in between. You can ascribe this descriptor to both the parents and the children, which makes for interesting combinations. In the above scenario, you have basically a lose/lose situation -- bad kids and bad parents. Anyone else agree with me as to the probable outcome of this attempt to solve a problem with money?

It's a nine-month program. Add in all of the extra academic fees, meals, travel, and what-not, and you're talking about an investment of nearly $100,000 for a kid who's almost certainly (as far as I can tell) going to return home largely unchanged.

I shouldn't be so cynical, though. I, too, was quite an asshole once upon a time. If I ever finish designing the cover page, I'll post the entire memoir here for your downloading pleasure.

Original Comments

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On May 25, 2007, Rhythmballer wrote:

A family member sent his out-of-control daughter to a place like this in Oregon and it is actually WORKING. We scoffed at the time but now it appears that all will be well. YMMV.

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