Last week my son Luca got busted for smoking pot at school. This was not the first time. After five weeks this past fall as a new seventh grader at a crazy-expensive private school–let’s call it Escalade Academy, because the parking lot is teeming with those–he was expelled for bringing marijuana on to campus. And offering it to kids he was trying to impress.
Escalade said they would consider inviting Luca back for eighth grade if he went to therapy. They also suggested he complete the current year at an alternative school called, let’s say, Hybrid Prep. Hybrid takes kids who, for various reasons, have struggled in traditional school settings.
I told my ex-husband, Prince, that a regular day school was not going to be able to contain Luca, who has been a “spirited child” since kindergarten, and that he needed a therapeutic boarding school to keep him safe. But as you may recall, Prince doesn’t listen to me, and I decided that running him into court on an ex parte for school choice wasn’t worth the gamble or the firestorm litigation creates.
Prince was convinced that Hybrid was the ticket back to Escalade, a pipeline to Ivy League colleges and Hamptons summer shares for Luca and, most important, really great networking for Prince.
So we enrolled Luca at Hybrid. We plunked him in individual therapy yet again–13-year-old Luca has had almost more therapy than I have, and I’ve had tons–as well as a social skills group since he has had a hard time making and keeping friends.
He had some fits and starts at Hybrid, the usual stuff: non-compliance, debating adults, being snarky with peers. He was put on probation for several weeks, but worked hard to get his act together so he could regain his off-campus privileges. Then, bam, the minute he got off probation, he got nailed smoking weed between classes. Just two weeks before his readmission meeting to Escalade.
A boneheaded adolescent misstep? I think not. I think getting high–and getting caught–was Luca’s way of saying he doesn’t want to go back to Escalade. I think it was his way of screaming for more structure, and more scaffolding, than a regular school, or home, provides.
Plus, maybe he just wants to be out of our co-parenting crossfire.
Anyway, this is what I will be telling our 730 evaluator. And just to be clear, this custody mishigas all started over school. Last winter, Luca got so agitated while applying to pressure-cooker private secondary schools that I became convinced he shouldn’t go. Directives to do homework were met with head-banging (his) and screaming fits (mostly his, sometimes mine). So when Luca got into Escalade, the Holy Private School Grail, I told Prince I would only consent to his enrollment if we inverted Luca’s timeshare. Instead of being with me 60-someting % of the time, he would be with Prince 60-something % of the time. Prince could deal with the daily homework battles, and if, as he boasted, Luca was “perfect” with him, then he could get Luca to be perfect at school.
We stipulated to the change in timeshare in March 2010. In June, Luca became so explosive at my house that he went to live with his dad full-time. By October, he was expelled from Escalade.
Yesterday I met with the Hybrid Director to discuss Luca’s latest incident. Prince had had a separate meeting a few days earlier. I didn’t cry as much as I usually do in these meetings, the meetings that over the past seven years have begun with a phone call asking me to come in as soon as possible to “discuss some issues” about Luca.
As I mentioned, Hybrid is an alternative school, so they didn’t expel him. The Director and the Staff Therapist said he was depressed and copped to smoking pot because it makes him feel good and he usually feels bad. (That was when I started to cry). They said the usual stuff: get his meds checked; add family therapy to the mental health combination plate.
When we had finished talking, the Director went to look for Luca, thinking that he would want to talk to me. She came back several minutes later, Luca-less. He didn’t want to see me. I was not surprised.
“Tell him I love him,” I said.
He will never know how much.