Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Saga Continues

Last week, I took our youngest son Kelly to Duluth, Minnesota so that he could register for fall classes at the University of Minnesota. We had a wonderful time, but in order to make the trip, I had to take Kurt to respite because we were going on Wednesday and my mom was out of town, and Paul was working.

As I explained in my previous post, the last time Kurt was there, he had taken a CD player. This time, Kurt carried the CD player in and had a hard time looking at Chris and an even more difficult time apologizing. Chris knew in advance what was going on and really came down hard on him.

I picked up Kurt a day later. He's never thrilled to go home because he loves to be there and considers them his friends.

"Tell her what you did," Chris said.

I stood just inside the door. Kurt looked at the wall, up at the ceiling and down at the floor while we waited. I tensed in anticipation.

"I didn't mean to put Nicci's IPOD in my suitcase," he said.

"No," Chris said, his arms crossed. "You did mean to do that. That's stealing."

We went back and forth, talking it over with Kurt. His shame was evident. He knows right from wrong, yet that goes out the window when he desires an object.

I haven't call the youth officer yet. I'm hoping that if Kurt hears from the police that what he is doing is illegal, that will make a big impression on Kurt. He respects police officers.

What stops me from picking up the phone and calling? I have a lot of excuses. I'll call tomorrow. I'm not sure when the officer should come over. Maybe this request is inappropriate. How do I explain to the officer that my son is stealing?

I think I feel as ashamed as Kurt does.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


A few months ago, Kurt stayed for the weekend at Worie's Place, an intergenerational respite operated by long-time friends. Kurt loves to be there with the couple and their three kids, plus the other special needs people he has become friends with.

Shortly after he got home, I noticed he was listening to music on an unfamiliar CD player. After a little investigation, I found out he had taken it from Worie's Place.

Taken, pinched, pilfered, lifted. No matter what words I use, it all comes down to the fact that he stole it. And to my dismay, this behavior has been happening for years.

Not only at Worie's Place, but at home too. He sneaks into brother Kelly's room and takes DVDs or the earbuds he prizes. Or he takes post-it notes from my desk without asking. Or he finds objects of interest on his dad's dresser, to be found later in Kurt's room.

At first, these seemed minor. But the behavior continues and we realize that Kurt can not move to Community Homestead until he can be trusted to leave other people's things alone.

We've talked to him, yelled, explained over and over that stealing is wrong, yet he continues.

Jon, the behavioral consultant we work with said to call the police. I am to ask that the youth officer speak with Kurt in our home, explaining to Kurt that he is doing something illegal and could go to jail.

The plan sounds harsh, but sometimes we must be very blunt in our message to Kurt, in order for him to learn. Yet I haven't made the call. Telling Jon about this problem was the first time I told anyone outside our family. I'm protecting Kurt. I'm protecting myself.

Jon explained that if Kurt steals something in a store, the police will be called and then it will be too late to protect him. The matter will be in the hands of the police and the court system.

Hiding this is not protecting Kurt, I realize. Sweeping it under the rug is not helping Kurt make progress towards his independence. He needs to be trustworthy.

By sharing this issue on my blog, I'm going public. This is one step forwards. Next step when I have the courage: call the youth officer.

Kurt at 19