Going rogue: exhibiting maverick-like behavior, or bucking the status quo— Merriam-Webster
My 16 year old daughter is one smart cookie. Maybe not your honor-roll, chemistry and math-loving type smart, but she is certainly up there in functional brain activity.
School is not for her, and she’s spent the past two years of her life proving that fact to me, social services, a therapy office, and the school district itself.
And has finally achieved her dream scenario—a two hour school day, beginning at 3:30pm and ending at 5:20. So she can sleep in. Perfection.
It has come at a cost. We have a family therapist. We have four individual counselling providers. One mental health nurse practitioner and one social worker, from a program called “Persons In Need of Supervision”, or PINS.
That’s a lot of appointments every week or every other week. Good thing that I don’t work.
Oh, wait. I do.
So I juggle and squeeze and sleep about 5.5 hours a day, and work the night shift so everyone can get to these appointments. Because her rogue behavior has affected her younger sisters and myself so much that we needed therapy, too.
Of course, all that attention from service providers is no picnic for her, either, although preferable to the normal 8:30-3:00 daily grind that most children suck up every day. With less than 20 days of school left, I’m just grateful they let her into this program to end the year. Now I don’t have to go to court.
Next year, when she is no longer “of compulsory” age, (meaning required by law to attend some sort of schooling) she will sign up for her GED, attend those afternoon classes, and graduate a year early— ready to start her adult life.
Which is all that she ever wanted.
My adult friends and co-workers have all watched my struggle with this, jaws dropping at her brilliance and tenacity to achieve what works for her. They have listened to my constant worry about foster care, child protective services, and family court dates. All because she didn’t want school, and was unable to function due to anxiety and depression, when we forced her to attend. Thus, all the therapy to determine how we all can best meet her special needs, and it’s all still a work in progress.
In the meantime, the rest of the mommies out there are chiming in. Mommies with 8, 9, 10 year olds, whose main struggles are juggling soccer and homework, dance and dentist appointments.
“I would beat my kid into next week if she ever did that to me.”
“My kid would be locked up in her room until college.”
“I’d slap the shit out of (my perfect angel) if she put me through all of this.”
I’ve simply started responding with “Would you? Would you really?” Because I don’t really think they would. And if they did, they’d be looking at far worse than some therapy appointments and constant email updates to service providers.
Now I’m getting a lot more of “No, probably not. I don’t know what I would do.” And that’s a far more honest response. When your child goes rogue, and you are the one paying the price, what do you do?
The end of this school year marks the end of two years of fear for me. I’m starting to feel the relief and the lessening of the pressure, although my prayers have gone up a notch. I pray that she is the only one out of my six children who picks this path. My third oldest is graduating this year, and two other did before her.
I have two younger girls left to go, besides my rogue child. I hope they are learning a few things, and stay the more traditional path. But if they don’t, I will remember what I’ve learned these last two years.
Keep the lines of communication WIDE open, with your child and with any other service professional that you can find. Don’t let them scare you that this is your fault, that there is something wrong at home. I’ve been under a microscope, and I’ve proven myself.
Don’t let the other mommies make you feel bad. Don’t let them make you believe they could have done better, or would be doing better. Bucking the status quo is just that— trudging an individual path— and there ARE no rules.
My daughter will be fine. She is smart and she knows what she wants. She has also proven that she will do what it takes for her to be happy.
Life skills— going rogue.
And if looked at with the right perspective? Something to be proud of her for.