He sat up tall in his chair, wore a buttoned up collared shirt, his pants were clean and his shoes were new. His hair was cut and he was clean shaven. He looked the officer straight in the eye and answered his questions honestly and with respect. He had a lot going for him but he also had a file of past incidences that went back over two years. Currently he was charged with possession of marijuana and had been picked up in the past for drinking and luckily he does not have his driver’s license.
His mother and father sat obediently in their folding chairs waiting to be addressed but the officer mainly talked to our son. Earlier that day my husband was nervous about the meeting and what they would do. Our worrying was not going to change the outcome, it was all up to our son and that takes a load off my shoulders because it would not be my fault. At 17 Mom and Dad can no longer save them, we can support them but not save them.
I am sure the officer has seen it all, but it does help to show up neat and respectful of the system and the officer. I think residential treatment taught my son to be respectful of authority or at least to pretend.
The officer asked many questions, went back two years into my sons past and some of the problems he had then. My son had to re-experience some pretty troubled times in his life and I could tell it was difficult. Asked what he is doing now, my son, told him that he was in school, getting good grades, working, attending family therapy and NA meetings. All to his credit and I think weighed his final decision. But he still poked around with his current and past mistakes and then asked us what we thought he should do. None of us had an answer for him, I had no idea what to say. Then he had to leave the room and told us when he got back he would let us know why. I don’t know if it was all an act or if he just wanted to see us sweat.
He returned rubbing his chin, “this is not easy, tell me what did you learn while you were away in treatment?” “I learned how to respect myself and that I don’t have to follow the crowd to be accepted and that I can be myself”. The officer looked at his papers “My chart tells me that with your past and this offense you should go to juvenile court, but when I take everything into consideration I don’t think court will benefit you”. “I had to talk to my supervisor to get permission to put you on informal probation”.
The first 1/2 sigh of relief comes through. He tells my son his biggest concern is his substance abuse, you have not hurt anyone but drugs are illegal. Then proceeded to read to us what his probation will be. His probation is for 4 months through 12/23, will have to take random UA (urine analysis tests) and that was it. His therapist has to write a note that substance abuse is being addressed in therapy. No community service, no mandatory meetings to attend and whatever else they can do.
My son was so lucky and I also feel relieved for him. I just hope he does not break his informal probation and get into any more serious trouble because I don’t think they will be as nice. I explained to him as we drove to the appointment that it is my goal to keep the law out of my life and not have to deal with them.
Today he went for his first UA test and I guess the guy that administered the test was not at all polite. He told him he would be his probation officer and a few other not so nice things. I hope my son got the message, this guy doesn’t fool around and he did not appear to trust anyone or anything.
Most parents would be devastated if their teen was on probation and rightly so. Just like Wilderness and Residential Treatment, it is not something you aspire to in the development of your children. My consequences obviously were not working, so now it has been handed off to a higher power. I was very impressed, proud of my son and how he handled the situation. It is all relative and I am hoping this will be his last brush with the law.