Dr. Suess

"And will you succeed? Yes indeed! Yes indeed! Ninety Eight and Three Quarters guarenteed!"

Thursday, June 09, 2005

I want to be Benjamin when I grow up

Pearls and Dreams

It was terrifying at first. When Don got the letter, it was Thursday while I was in the hospital. The two times I'd looked at it, I was under the lortab influence. I didn't question it when Don said we didn't have to bring Benjamin. Don said they had to talk to us ... the bottom of the letter said that if we needed more information about the incident, to talk to our child ..so ... I didn't question further. (I should know better by now than to believe Don on details).

We got there, and the assistant district attorney said that we had to have Benjamin with us because he had to read him his rights before he could question him, or before he could give us any details.

That sent me into panic mode ...absolute panic. Don got angry ... I was panicking. We both got very upset and the man would give us no details in the complaint without Benjamin present.
We rescheduled for 2 pm.

We came home and to take up time, I to Bj to get his hair cut.
Bj of coarse, was once again absolutely terrified ..only this time, with knowing they were going to read him his rights, we knew it was more serious than what we'd anticipated and we had no idea how to put his mind at ease. Other than to be honest with him and say that God has everything under control even when we don't feel like he does.

Don called the ADA's supervisor, who read the police report to Don. The police report said that they went to the child's apartment where the child had slight swelling under the right eye. The child said that they bumped into each other in PE and that he told Bj to watch where he was going and Bj started to cuss and yell at him and pushed him and then punched him in the face.
He told the police that there had been no previous exchanges between them and didn't even know Bj before this incident.
The mother also told them that Benjamin had been suspended from school for 2 weeks. (4 days of this school year, the other 6 the start of next school year) (However, they've been in the same PE class all year, as well as having gone to the same elementary school for 4th and 5th grade and having had the same home room teacher for both grades ... in a class of 20 kids in each class. 24 kids in the PE class. )

So, we go back at 2 PM. Because of the way the laws are written, and the supervisor gave us the report, the ADA said something about it didn't matter any more about reading his rights because we had the details and unless they were going to take him into custody, they wouldn't be reading him his rights, so anything we said about the incident would be 'off the record but taken into account' (in other words, could not be used against him).(I still don't understand the logistics of all this, but it all worked out without my son having been read his rights ..so I'm fine with how it worked out)

So, we gave him our side. That the child came across from the other side of the gym and started to yell at Benjamin, cussing at him, calling him a fat (ahem) and other explitives and then pushed Benjamin. At which point Benjamin punched him in the face. Afterwards, Benjamin IMMEDIATELY apologized before the teacher could get to them!
The ADA asked who told us that version, I said Benjamin and the vice principal. She said that the gym teacher heard the other kid cussing at Benjamin and said that it was equal yelling going back and forth between them.

He said "what about the suspension, who suspended him, and for how long?"
At which point ... I grinned and was able to say legally "He was NOT suspended. We pulled him out of school for the remaining four days because the year had been so rough for him"
We had the discipline referral that says "student pulled from school for remainder of the year at parental request" The suspension box was not checked, the detention box was not checked ... NO discipline box was marked.

Boy was I glad we'd chosen that route! We'd had the choice of allowing him a chance to get higher grades and do his work at home and call it a suspension. Whew!

So ... We were in his office for about an hour as he talked to Benjamin for an hour about who he is as a person. What his interests are, what he likes to do. What chores he has, why does he have to do chores? What is his curfew? Why does he have to follow a curfew? Benjamin answered all the questions and answered them better than we thought he could have ..with more understanding than we thought he had ... with more understanding of them than DON has of them! (which, actually seemed to make a point with Don)

(Don thinks I make them do chores because I don't want to do them. I make them do chores to give them a sense of responsibility, work together as a family unit and know how to do those things when they are out on their own.)

Bj's answers: "Well, my mom wants me to know how to take care of myself when I'm a grown up, and how to work as a team member when I get a job somewhere, so doing the dishes with my brother teaches me to work together with someone to get something done and not be a lone ranger."

So, he said that he has to send out a letter to the other family, and if they want monetary damages they have to prove there is monetary damages incurred (medical bills not paid by insurance). If so, he'll call us. Then we go to court where everything will be told to a judge. At which point, the judge will hear that it is a fight of mutual responsibility and be thrown out. If he doesn't hear back from the family in 30 days, then the case will be closed with no action. The judge will also see that Benjamin has not shrunk back from his own part in the fight at all and has seen the responsibility that he himself has carried. There will be no consequences for Benjamin because consequences are handed out to try to get a kid to learn that what he's done was wrong, and Bj already knows that. He asked Bj what the worst thing about this whole thing was for him and Bj looked at him very with a very somber expression and said "My testimony for God has been tarnished"

He was so impressed with Benjamin. He said he doesn't get to meet kids like Benjamin so this was a pleasure for him and he was sorry we had to go through it. Benjamin shook his hand (Bj initiated the handshake) and said that it wasn't a wasted time because he can share it with his friends who are being bullied and maybe they won't react like he did and it if it keeps one of them from reacting like he did and prevent this ..then it's worth it. The ADA just sat back down and stared at Bj and said for about the 5th or 6th time "you've got good teaching and it's deep in your heart!"

It was absolutely terrifying experience for us all. Hopefully it's over for GOOD.


  1. i held my breath through most of the story, expecting some unfair ending. i'm really happy that justice was served. benjamin's my hero too.

  2. I held my breath most of the day that day! Terrified of some unfair ending.

    Now you know how we feel when we read a lot of your stuff Dr. Charles! ;)

    I am so impressed with these kids of mine. I feel so honored to even know them ..and it's more than parenting. I have days like thursday where I just stand back and look and wonder how in the world am I even so privileged to know these kids much less so honored to be their mom?

    My oldest made me feel that way today at a church youth group fundraiser. Not nearly so serious an issue. But ... 23 youth there to work a garage sale ..6 adults ... 6 adults working. 2 kids working. Samuel and Benjamin were the 2 kids working. I'm ashamed to say I didn't notice that they were the two working, the youth pastor had to point it out to me. (now, if I could just get them to do their chores at home without being reminded!;)

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