David Altshuler, M.S.
(305) 978-8917 | david@davidaltshuler.com

Tommy, Can You Hear Me?

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"It's all your fault, Mom. You are the reason I don't have any friends. All of the other kids drive nice cars, but you gave me this lousy car to drive. The other kids make fun of me. If you would just leave me alone, everything would be OK."

"But, Honey, if I leave you alone, you don't even get up and go to school never mind do your homework. You just stay in your room playing that video game until one in the morning."

"See, there you go again. Always badgering me. Don't you see how this is all your fault?"

"No, I don't see how it's all my fault at all. Your father and I work hard to provide for you and your brothers."

"There you go again. Always comparing me to my brothers who are so perfect. Why can't you get good grades like your brothers? Why can't you help out around the house like your brothers? It's always the same thing. Why can't you just leave me alone?"

"We try to leave you alone but you keep getting suspended from school and arrested."

"Why can't you just shut up, you stupid wench? I told you that wasn't my fault."

"It wasn't your fault that you had marijuana in your book bag?"

"No, it wasn't. How many times do I have to explain it to you? The pot wasn't mine. Somebody must have put the dope in my book bag."

"Anyway, what time do you want me to pick you up after school today?"

"I don't want you to pick me up from school today at all. I hope you die."


Fast forward a year from the conversation transcribed above--and edited for a family publication; Tommy didn't actually use the word "wench". Tommy has been graduated from high school--barely--but has been kicked out of the dorm for smoking marijuana. His midterm grades were two Cs, a D, and an F. He has stopped going to one of his classes and has not turned in assignments in two of the others.

"Tommy, what are we going to do?"

"I told you: I'm going to get a job. Next semester I'll go back to school."

"But you don't ever go out looking for work. All you do is play on your computer."

"You are so stupid. That's how it is nowadays, Mom. All the jobs are on-line."

"We only want what is best for you. Your father and I are only trying to help."

"That's it. You keep bothering me. Why can't you ever just shut up? I can't stand this anymore. I'm out of here."

And Tommy takes off. He has ten thousand dollars in his own name, an inheritance from his grandfather's brother who died when Tommy was a boy. Not surprisingly, within six weeks, the money is almost gone, having disappeared in a cloud of pot smoke, an orgy of video gaming, motel bills, and take out pizza.

At eleven o'clock at night, Tommy's mother answers her cell phone.

"Mom, it's me, your son."

"Are you OK? We haven't heard from you. We've been so worried."

"I'm fine. Listen, I need money."

"Tommy, your father and I have decided not to give you any money. You need treatment. We'll pay for you to get help, but we won't pay for you to smoke pot, play video games, and live in a motel."

"That's crazy. There's nothing wrong with me. You and dad are the ones with the problem. I just need a few dollars to see me through for a little bit. I'm going to get a job. And I don't smoke pot. Who told you I smoke pot? This is all your fault. I'm your son. If you love me, you'll give me some money. You've never cared for me; you only love my brothers. You have enough money. Give me some money or I'll be living on the street. Do you want me to be homeless? Is that what you want?"


What should Tommy's mother say?

Should she send Tommy some money? Should she allow Tommy to move back home? Should she insist that Tommy go to a program to get help for his addiction to marijuana?

What if Tommy refuses to go to a program? What if he does decide to live "at the corner of 'WALK' and 'DON'T WALK'"? What should Tommy's mother do?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts. I'll give you my "answer" next week.



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Copyright © David Altshuler 2019    |    Miami, FL • Charlotte, NC     |    (305) 978-8917    |    david@davidaltshuler.com