July 13, 2022

decisions, decisions. & layers

Remember back in April when we contemplated sending Curly and Reg to Catholic high school?

FRIENDS:  When Reg admitted that he doesn't really have friends at our high school (aka HS) and he'd consider switching, we ended up down a totally different path, unrelated to basketball. 

The lack of friends wasn't a total shock to us, but it was hard to hear him vocalize it. 

Unrelated:  How cute are these pies from
the 4th? I will share the baking fail that
happened prior to this in an upcoming
post. Um, and these are no-bake pies.

Reg needed to find a new group to hang with in high school. With most of his freshman year spent on zoom, he didn't meet a lot of kids. 

Then he found a group of kids to hang out with the summer before his sophomore year. They came over regularly. In the fall this group of about 6 girls and 6 guys all paired off and started dating. Reg was the odd man out, and the couples decided to hang out with each other because they liked to cuddle and watch movies. What now? 

In the spring, I asked Reg if the couples had split up. Seeing as they were all sophomores in high school, I was betting that their relationships weren't solid. 


He isn't alone. None of my kids have ever gravitated to what is considered 'the cool' or 'the popular' crowd. Too much drama and egos, etc. I'm grateful that my kids see it that way and don't try to conform. 

Because Reg played varsity basketball, he hung out with guys that were juniors on the b-ball team. He admitted to me back in April that those guys weren't always nice to him. At lunch one day, they wouldn't let him sit at their table. 

I found out that there is a table of sophomores that Reg could sit with, but there's a troublemaking kid at that table. We'll call him JT (just trouble). 

TROUBLE:  JT bought LSD when he was in 8th grade. He went to a different junior high, so we didn't know him. When his dad discovered him on LSD, JT ran and fell over a balcony. He landed on his head. He ended up losing a tennis ball portion of his brain. 

Incredibly sad. Mini played tennis with JT's sister, who told Mini the story, admitting that JT has changed so much since the accident. 

JT has lost all impulse control. He does and says whatever he thinks. Reg sees his behavior as problematic, but most of the boys their age find him downright hilarious. He'll do ANYTHING. 

When I described the situation to a friend, Jess, who teaches at the school, she was blown away. Jess' teacher friend must've had JT in her advanced class, because she experienced exactly what I was describing. The school isn't allowed, or isn't compelled to share with teachers what this kid's background is, so this teacher  spent the school year finding him insanely disruptive in her honors class. 

SMALL CLASS:  In my communications with Reg's school counselor, I learned that Reg's class is only about 250 kids. Most of the classes at HS are around 350. Mini's class was almost 400. Ed urges us to leave Reg at HS, thinking you don't really make your friend group until the end of sophomore year, and because of covid, Reg just finished his freshman year. 

I then asked Ed if he felt like he'd still have been able to find a group of kids to hang out with, IF his class had been 100 kids shy of a normal class. He admitted that he wasn't sure. 

IS FERRIS ALIVE:  In May, Reg opened his mouth and told a kid that he was thinking about transferring to another school. Well, it was like we were acting out Ferris Bueller. Mini's phone blew up:  IS IS TRUE? IS REG LEAVING SCHOOL? Reg, Mini, Coach, and I were grilled at every turn. The guy who has been given the varsity b-ball position pulled Reg aside, chatting with him for 15 minutes basically begging him not to go. Reg missed part of class while this guy tried to get to the root of things.

I'd suggested to Reg, DON'T SAY IT'S BECAUSE OF HIS COACHING. (we don't consider him varsity coach material, he doesn't have a b-ball background) SAY YOUR PARENTS MIGHT WANT YOU TO DRIVE TO THAT SCHOOL IN ORDER TO GET CURLY THERE. 

Reg did admit to the coach that the older kids were sometimes giving him a hard time. 


What in the actual hell? I know this guy has a screw missing, but this was mind blowing. 

During summer league, a mom asked me if it was true that Reg might transfer. I explained without going into too much detail because her son was at the lunch table where Reg was given a hard time. 

She asked me if kids were not being nice to him. I admitted that was part of the issue, but I told her not to say anything. At the next game though, she admitted that they'd had a family meeting. She said she and her husband wanted to know if their son was not sticking up for Reg. The kid admitted that he was NOT. The mom told him that sitting back and doing nothing when this other kid is constantly telling Reg "all you have going for you is basketball" is just as bad as being the bully. 

She also told me that her son said that Reg can act immature at times. This doesn't surprise me. That can happen when you hang with kids older than you. I think the year being in school on zoom didn't help. I also wonder if Reg tried to emulate his very funny older brother, Tank. If it doesn't come naturally to you, but you assume that you 'have it' - then that can get annoying. 

Her kid now understands that he can't let that crap happen, and that the conversation was not to leave their kitchen table. I didn't want her to confront her kid, but I honestly think she handled it really well. 

Still, we'd like Reg to have friends that are his age. He does really like a few kids who are a year younger than him, so if he stays then he will have a few older kids, assuming they treat him better, and a few kids who are younger. 

DISTANCE:  The distance is one of the hardest things to get past. Mini was just in a car accident. It makes me nervous to think of Reg driving on two expressways and then another road. It has been known to snow here in Chicago. 

Their friends would be far from our house too. 

CATHOLIC:  If we'd been successful at growing a money tree in our yard, we would've opted to send all of our kids to Catholic high school. They do like to eat though, and we couldn't have afforded both. 

Both Coach and I feel strongly that the kids would really benefit from a Catholic education. There are other schools that are closer. One is too rich for our blood. Another, where Reg's cousin and good friend goes, has a girls' coach who is a tyrant, which wouldn't make that team a good fit for Curly. 

WAIVER:  I FINALLY got in touch with the boys' coach end of May. He has 10 returning seniors. So, Reg might not play much as a junior if he transfers there. But  . . . they don't have as many players who are Reg's age. 

The coach explained to me that Reg would need a waiver in order to transfer unless we decide to move near the school. Not moving. If he doesn't get a waiver, he'd have to sit out his junior year season. The more we talked and the more I explained what the story is, the coach felt like Reg would possibly qualify for a waiver. 

He said he'd look into the waiver and call me back. Crickets. 

CURLY:  I consider my kids to be a package deal. They are good friends. I look forward to having them attend the same school. I know that if they go to the Catholic school, they won't be in the same building - but the schools are affiliated. 

Curly is adamant that she not go to the Catholic school. I get that she is familiar with HS, but as her parents we also agree that she'd really like the other school once she was there. Three girls on her travel team go to that school. Curly is crazy about them and they are the kind of great kids that we'd love for her to go to school with. She IS going to be on the AAU team with them for the next 4 years, at least. 

MONEY:  We haven't asked for the bottom line. Do we put the cart before the horse? We'd get a discount for sending two kids. We might get some money off for the basketball playing. Mini just got the Evans, so now we could probably afford it. But Tank, who says I LOVED HS, BUT HE DOESN'T - MOVE HIM, has asked me why I'd consider paying for Catholic high school when we just got this huge tuition weight lifted. He has a point. 


What should we do? 

Send them both to Catholic school (all boys and all girls - two different buildings)? 

Send just Reg (I don't like this idea)? Or send just Curly? 

Find out if 

    A. the bus, that picks up a bit past our house, could make a stop near our home (because it would go past us on the highway) - in which case we'd have to go pick them up every evening (bus only goes one way)?

    B. if we can get the waiver?

    C. what the tuition would be?

Do we wait another school year in hopes that his schedule will intersect with kids who he can befriend? 

Do we just stick with the school that is incredibly convenient, where Curly will most likely start on varsity as a freshman? Reg will have a good coach at his AAU team, so maybe it won't be the end of the world if he doesn't have a great coach for high school. He'll play more at HS than he will at the Catholic high school. We prefer the Catholic education, but the distance might complicate life too much. HS is a good school. 


Nicole MacPherson said...

What a conundrum. My heart goes out to Reg - it's hard to be the odd person out. I don't have any advice for you, but I have lots of sympathy - such a difficult decision to make.
Also - the kid who fell off the balcony, wow, what a tragic story!

mbmom11 said...

My opinion: leave them at HS. There are too many variables to be certain that yhe time and money invested would be worth it. The other school might have students on team who are also resentful about new players taking their spots. And if Reg is not playing much, then what's the point?
I know you're thinking about future college scholarships, but there are a lot of options for colleges. Don't do this big change for a pig in a poke that might be no better than what you have.
As for Reg and friends, let him know he should act like himself. If his younger friends are going to be there, he'll have support.
This is a tough problem,and I hope when you cone to a decision you can be at peace.
The poor kid, JT. Some things are just tragic.

Beth Cotell said...

I have no advice for you other than some times it takes a while for kids to find their people. If he has one or two friends at his current school, I would probably consider leaving him there. I know my kids (and their friend groups) changed a lot after sophomore year. It's like once the kids figured out who they were or were more comfortable with themselves, the friend groups sorted themselves out.

If you really want to send them to Catholic school, you should check into the tuition assistance programs - this would be above and beyond the discount you get for having more than one student there.

I will also add that the school we sent our kids to is a 25 minute drive as compared to 5 minutes to the public high school. After a while that didn't seem like that big of a deal. They have friends from ALL over multiple counties and sometimes that does make hanging out with friends a hassle. But usually they all meet at a central location to hang out.

I feel like this was no help. I hope you guys figure out the best place for everyone and I hope Reg has a wonderful school year wherever he ends up.

Ernie said...

Nicole - It is a challenging situation. I should add that we've had a hard time deciding in part because that would entail Coach and I being in the same place and completing a conversation. Since we haven't made a decision to switch at this point, leaning towards staying put.

It is sad what happened to that boy. Doing LSD as a 14 year old? How messed up.

I do hope that Reg clicks with a group this year and that his lunch period includes a table where he can hang with kids that are on the same page.

Ernie said...

mbmom - I appreciate your perspective. I've thought about that - what if kids are mad that Reg is taking a spot from someone.

Coach has said he doesn't want to make the decision based on basketball, which is a little impossible because it is Reg's favorite thing. Coach wants us to focus on the Catholic values offered. Reg claims he won't care if he doesn't play much this year, because he wants to be on a team that can win some games. I am not sure if he will feel that way if he isn't playing.

Coach and I have also both said the grass is NOT always greener. Our other kids had such great groups of kids to hang out with, it is killing me that he doesn't have many friends to spend free time with.

We are comfortable at HS. We know the drill: teachers, academics, coaches. There is a part of me that doesn't want to leave our comfort zone.

Thanks for your input. It helps to get another perspective.

Ernie said...

Beth - This is helpful. I do think there are probably a few kids that he might enjoy hanging out with, and I do hope that if he stays that he will find them and connect. In the spring I asked the counselors if they could do an ice breaker type day - or something so the kids who haven't met yet might meet one another. They liked my idea but it was too late in the school year to pull it off. Our school year doesn't start until after Labor Day this year (weeks later than normal), because of construction.

The drive is really the thing that makes the situation complicated. It is a FAR drive. The traffic around Chicago and the road conditions in bad weather are concerning. This wouldn't be a 27 minute drive on side streets, or through the country. It would involve multiple expressways that lead to the city of Chicago, so lots of nutty drivers and lots of merging, etc all in rush hour. This past school year, we had to drop Coach at work a few times - or pick up a car from the kids at the high school, because we had a car in a shop. No idea how that would work out if the kids were in school so far from home.

We wanted to decide this before the June high school summer league started, but that didn't happen. Both kids played with their high school teams in June and it feels even harder to switch school after that.

I really want my kid to enjoy his high school experience and he doesn't have all that much time left there, but my guess is that we stick it out.

Colleen said...

Yikes, so much to consider and the clock is ticking towards next school year already. I am totally biased because I send my kids to Catholic school and my husband works at our Catholic high school. I used to work there as well, and now I work for the public school district. I would choose Catholic school every time. BUT we could NEVER afford it except for the tuition abatement program they have for employees. We decided early on in our marriage that we would take lower paying jobs to get the tuition break. It's a sacrifice but one that we don't regret. I used to do financial aid at the Catholic high school and we gave away tons of money to those in need, especially from big families with multiple siblings attending. I think you should at least find out the cost to make the decision more obvious. I hope they give you a huge deal and it's an easy answer, but if not that you take that as a sign also and keep your kids where they are. My almost senior definitely didn't make his friend group until the end of sophomore year, and he had to deal with the pandemic zoom stuff too. It just takes them longer now :(

Kathy said...

retired teacher here. And I would suggest, since you know teachers at the HS, that on the first day of school, you get in touch with one whom you know and talk to her/him about Reg. In the first few months of school, I often had 1 or 2 parents concerned about their kid fitting in. Since partner work and group work is part of the school experience, I often assigned the partners or the team at the beginning of the year. A supportive teacher will do the same for Reg and without any obviousness about it, he will get a chance to work with students the teacher thinks will be a good match with Reg. Heck, go wild, talk to several of his teachers with the same ask. We can not help if no one has told us there is an issue.

Busy Bee Suz said...

My heart breaks for Reg. He needs a nice circle of people; it doesn't even have to be a big circle...just a few good people.

I love what Kathy said up there, too; we know you have no issue reaching out on behalf of your kiddos.

My gut tells me to go with what Reg and Curly want. I know they are just kids, and we generally know what is best for them, but it might be more challenging if they go into it with negativity.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Oh, and your July 4th dessert is a marvel to look at!

mbmom11 said...

Further unsolicited opinion: For Catholic values, I'd encourage the kids to go to a Catholic college or university with a strong Catholic students activities program,and not worry so much about the HS (as long as your HS has strong academic programs). In high school , the kids are in your home and parish, surrounded by lots of positive Catholic values. Once the kids are off to school, they're put into an environment where it's easy to go astray from the faith. A Catholic school or one with a strong youth group might help keep them close to their faith.
You're lucky with Mini - one can't get away from Masses at ND!

Kara said...

A perspective of sending a kid to a school they don't want to go to- it's awful. We sent the youngest to a private school for 7th and 8th, after some issues in 6th grade at a public school. She DID NOT WANT TO GO. She hated the school for two years, and hated us for two years for making her go. Her school didn't really close for COVID, so she was in classrooms for a lot more of 2020 and 2021 than my other kids. She did not make friends, and was even worse off after the two years. We let her go back to public school for high school and she is thriving being in the same school as her sisters.

Gigi said...

I would suggest leaving them at the High School unless they specifically want to go to the Catholic school. Generally, I think moving them when they are already in middle or high school would be really tough on them. But I really think things will start to shake out for Reg in the coming year. Freshman year is always a HARD year - throw in the COVID year and that just makes things harder.

Ernie said...

Colleen - Good advice. We are going to call and see if we can get an idea of how much this would cost us before we make a final decision. I really do hope to have something pop up that makes the decision clear. Coach and I were so fortunate to have the high school experience that we had. We went to all boys/all girls school. These schools that we are considering have reputations as being outstanding places, kids/adults who went to school there rave about their school and are still tight with their friends. I do wonder if Reg will find a few friends if he sticks it out. Ugh. I'm really tired to mulling it over. Thanks for your input.

Ernie said...

Kathy - Good advice, thanks for the suggestion. I reached out to teachers at the school in the spring, plus counselors. I'm not shy. I will continue to try that angle if necessary.

Ernie said...

Suz - I agree, just a few kids to hang with is all he needs. I've told him to start figuring out which girls are nice and fun to hang out with and go that route.

I do know teachers, and I know which teachers are gonna catch my drift too. I reached out in the spring. It didn't lead to anything very helpful, yet. This guy in particular is a big Shenanigan fan so he is a good one to have an eye out for Reg.

I think Reg wants to transfer (depending on the day) and Curly doesn't. As of this moment, Curly has more friends at the Catholic school than she does going to HS. I don't really want to split them up. They wouldn't have the same breaks from school and they are such good buddies. Hmmm.

That flag cake is SO easy, unless your name is Mini.

Ernie said...

mbmom - I like that mindset. Only Ed goes to a state school. There is mass on campus. He was going to go on a mission trip from school and was supposed to leave on March 14, '20. Well, that didn't happen.

Ernie said...

Kara - That is such a bummer of a story. I will take it under advisement. Curly has more friends at the Catholic school than she does going to HS. Her bestie is going to a school in another district, so she can't go to school with her no matter what.

Ernie said...

Gigi - I think Reg does want to go to the Catholic school. When he shadowed, he bumped into a kid he used to play travel ball with. It was his favorite kid on the team that year. He really liked his shadow day. We haven't talked about transferring much, because we haven't known about the waiver and whether or not we should keep talking about it. Freshman year on covid was hard, but he just hasn't found a good group to hang out with sophomore year either. I'm crossing my fingers that if he goes back there, he will stumble on some kids that he hasn't been aware of. Or, if he struggles to find a group of boys, then find some nice girls to hang with.

Jenny in WV said...

I don't have any relevant experience or advice to offer. It sounds like a complicated decision all around. Maybe have sit down one on one with each kid a make a pro/con list of their thoughts and concerns.

Is that common for elementary schools to feed into different high schools? Everyone from the elementary I attended went on to the same junior high with all the kids who attended another elementary school 10 miles away. Then everyone from junior high went on to the same high school along with all the kids from the other junior high in the district.

Kari said...

I'd ask Reg and Curly what they want and what their instinct tells them, particularly Reg. If you ever need to talk, you can always email me. I'm sending you so much love and clarity. Xoxo

Ernie said...

Jenny - Yes, this is a good idea. I think Reg is leaning towards going there and Curly is not.

There is one tiny section that attends our junior high/grade school and then they go to a different public high school. Usually there are like 2 or 3 kids impacted by this weird zone each year- but this year Curly's bestie was the only one. Another grade schoo in our town is split down the middle, half go to our high school and half go to a high school across town. Weird, I know. Some of the families there really dislike it because their kids end up having to start over.

Ernie said...

Kari - Thanks, Kari. I appreciate that. It seems that all signs are pointing to sticking with the school where they go. Coach and I really cherish our Catholic high school experience, but we learned earlier today that Reg will not be able to get a waiver - so he can go to the other high school but he wouldn't be allowed to play sports for one year. Silly as that seems to us.

Pat Birnie said...

I wish I had some advise (even though I’m late to the commenting). Our school system is much different here so haven’t had to make the hard choice I feel so bad that Reg is struggling to find a group of friends. I so hope that happens soon. As Beth says, sometimes it takes a bit of time. What a sad story about that brain injury. Also, love your pies!

Ernie said...

Pat - We heard back from the school that he won't be eligible for a waiver, so that makes the decision much more simple. He was leaning towards transferring there, so I'm a bit bummed, but I also was hoping for a clear decision. Now we have that decision, so we move on. I will again request that the school set up a special ice-breaker type day for his incoming junior class so that they can make some new connections. Sigh.

The brain injury story is devastating. A kid who messes with drugs in 8th grade is not a great leader and now the class seem to want to follow him because he now lacks impulse control. It's quite a mess.

Be prepared to chuckle about Mini and her no-bake cheesecake results.