Once upon a time in 1999 a mother accompanies her 15 year old son to his appointment with their clinical psychologist seeking help in solving a case of “the magical appearance of a bag of marijuana that wasn’t”. I greet them in the waiting room. Mom asks if she can come back with Jimmy to talk about a growing concern she has about Jimmy inhaling marijuana. Jimmy expresses his displeasure with an eye roll, a big sigh, and a perfect enunciation of the old “Maa—umm”.
I’d be seeing Jimmy off and on for about 3 years. Typically, I have a parent come in for a few minutes at the beginning or ending of a meeting so the parents feel included, everybody knows where I stand, see how they interact so I can bust whomever needs to be busted. Generally, my motto is ‘everybody has to do some changing.
Anyway, we get back to my office and everybody gets seated. I’m in my swivel chair on wheels that allows me to twirl around, move back and forth from my desk to my ‘position’, and to lengthen or shorten the distance between me and them. Today, they are both sitting on the couch. Something tells me it is going to be an hour packed with mystery and fun.
Quite often, I open things up with a fairly serious “So………” adjusting the sound of the word to the mood of what I sense is coming. Sure enough, Mom expresses concern that Jimmy is smoking pot on a fairly regular basis. She finds ‘evidence’ to support her hunch in his room and car and most recently in their mailbox. She digs into her purse and pulls out a good size bag of what appears to be marijuana that mysteriously found it’s way into the mailbox. Mom hands the bag to me to get my ‘expert opinion’. Jimmy suggested it might be oregano-not that he would know because he has never seen pot. Yeah….
I open up the bag, take a whiff, and declare-” Wow, there is a lot here. Not only that but this is top quality marijuana”. Jimmy just shakes his head repeating his mantra that he has never seen pot, and has no idea how it could have gotten in the mailbox. I interrupt the back and forth between the Mean Mom and Jimmy “the innocent”. It’s time to use what I call ‘split the difference’ tactic.
I take both sides. I explain to Jimmy that mothers are supposed to be nosy, suspicious, mistrustful, and have to give their kid a hard time if he is smoking pot. It’s her job. Just like it’s your job-Jimmy- to try to get away with things, to outwit her. Big surprise. It’s always been this way and always will. Might as well acknowledge the game so it doesn’t seem so damn serious. Lots of laughter as I move in close enough to give Jimmy a little kick in the shins.
I turn to Mom and say something like: “Well, it’s possible he really doesn’t know anything about how the pot got in the mailbox. Maybe it was supposed to be delivered to another mailbox in the neighborhood, in which case it wouldn’t be fair to ground this poor kid”. Jimmy is giving me a secret smile. I inquire about the presence of any other incorrigible teenagers that might live close by. Unfortunately for Jimmy, there aren’t any likely candidates.
Mom insists she knows Jimmy is smoking pot. Jimmy insists that Mom is always looking to give him a hard time, never believes him, and adds that he has hurt feelings being accused of such a thing.
It’s time to call Jimmy’s bluff. I know darn well he is getting stoned a few times a month. Mom asks me again if I think the bag contains pot. After I answer in the affirmative, she asks that I just keep it because she doesn’t want to get busted for having pot in her purse if the police pull her over on the way home. More laughter.
They both try to conceal their astonishment when I say ” Well, I’m happy to take it off your hands but I can’t keep it. We just need to follow ‘standard operating procedure”. What is that ? “Well, Mom, I need you to come to the bathroom with me so you can witness me flushing the pot or oregano or whatever it is down the toilet”. Mom smiles while Jimmy seems perplexed. I get up and Mom follows. We have a few laughs as I estimate how much money we are just about to flush down the toilet. As we head back into the office I tell Mom to pay attention to Jimmy’s reaction when we return.
I close the door and sit down. I believe I’d be a rich man if I had a video camera to capture the next few minutes. No sooner do I sit down than Jimmy, with reddened face, says to me: ” I can’t believe you just did that” Did what dude ? He shakes his head as his legs are bouncing wildly. “Jimmy, what’s wrong, you seem pissed or bummed or something….I just got you out of trouble….told your Mom we couldn’t hold you responsible for the mysterious appearance of the bag of ‘whatever’ in your mailbox”. He says 3 times in quick succession-“I can’t believe you did that….do you know how much money you flushed down the toilet ? Did you really flush it down–you didn’t do you”?
“Yeah, Jimmy I did. You told me you thought it was oregano and have made it clear you’ve never even seen pot before. It’s possible I am mistaken–it could have been oregano but not like any I ever came across. So, the simplest and safest solution was to flush it. I couldn’t have you guys leaving me here with a bag of very good pot. Hell, Jimmy, your Mom might think I smoke pot. So, she had to watch me flush it. What else was I supposed to do “?
Now Jimmy is angry. ” That was 100 dollars”. A hundred dollars of oregano ? Dude, I am trying to save your behind here but now you are making it difficult. You aren’t telling me oregano costs 100.00 and why would you care if it got flushed. So, Jimmy tries the ‘admit a white lie’ tactic.
“Okay, I have seen pot. I don’t smoke it but I’ve seen it. That could have been pot. If it was, you just wasted $ 100.00. That isn’t right. Nobody just flushes perfectly good pot down the toilet”. Mom starts laughing and I can’t keep the belly laugh from coming out. Even Jimmy is laughing as he keeps repeating-“I can’t believe you did that”.
“Okay Mom, it’s time for the wicked mother to leave the boys to talk”
Jimmy mumbles “Thank God”. Mom counters with “I love you too, dear”. As soon as Mom leaves Jimmy stands up, starts pacing, as he expresses his disbelief over and over. I ask him, what the hell else did he expect me to do ?
He doesn’t have an answer for that except—“you didn’t have to flush great pot down the toilet”. So, I get him to cough up how often he is getting stoned, etc to see how much of a problem we have. It falls in the ‘experimenting’ category in a late bloomer. Eventually, he laughs about the pot, tells me who put it in the mailbox, but insists it wasn’t for him. I suggest he is full of elephant manure. His laughter blows any chance of sneaking that one past.
We finish up the rest of our time covering ‘it’s a parents job to try to catch you just like it’s your job to try to get away with things’. He laughs as I remind him I saved his ass. I made a strong recommendation that he quit being so darn stupid and making it so easy for his Mother to catch him. I encourage him to consider fessing up to Mom that he has inhaled a few times.
He is agreeable. As we shake hands, he asks one last time-“For real, Dr. K., you …you didn’t really flush it did you’? Yeah, I had to bozo. Do you think I enjoyed flushing great pot down the toilet ? No, I didn’t. I’ll be pissed if you make me have to do it again. ‘Go fess up and quit being stupid’ as I put him in a headlock.
We greet Mom in the waiting room. I tell her we have solved all his problems but it would be good for him to come back within 10 days. Smiles all around. No tension. Life is okay again.