Rethinking therapy and getting to the core of the issue

I did not have a good experience at Ethan’s therapist appointment tonight.

It started when we arrived. We were early, but there was already a line for the 6 p.m. appointments. I was third in line.

As I waited for Guy #1 to wrap up his business (WHAT could have taken him 10 minutes?!), I was forced to listen to the most asinine conversation behind me. I say “forced” because these guys were talking at an incredible volume, particularly for the subject matter.

From what I could gather, these two teen boys were there for a meeting – a meeting of teens with a drinking or drug problem. Teen dudes were talking about how, even though they were caught and arrested for drinking and driving, they WILL still drink in the future. One was even bragging about how he was going to convince the DA to reduce the charges against him. These teens couldn’t have been older than 16 years.

When it was my turn at the window, I was pretty irritated. Listening to two kids talking (loudly) about beating the system and not learning their lessons (especially when alcohol is involved), really pissed me off. Then the woman behind the glass window couldn’t understand how to process my change in insurance. (Former employer and COBRA really screwed up my August coverage.)

By this time, Ethan had already gone to the therapist’s office. They had been talking for almost 15 minutes when I entered the room. We talked about what happened since the last appointment, about my meeting with E’s teachers, and how E was affected by the burial at school.

Then the therapist suggested I have Ethan tested for ADD by a neuropsychologist. I’m not opposed to an ADD or ADHD diagnosis. In fact, a few months ago, I would have jumped at the chance to have him tested, evaluated, diagnosed. I kinda thought maybe Ethan was a bit ADD/ADHD; I mean, some of his behaviors and the fact that Mike was ADHD (but untreated). But now…now, I think we need to deal with the grief issues first. The more I read about how young kids process death and deal with grief, the more I think that there’s a core issue that needs to be dealt with first. Before we can address ANY other issue, I think Ethan needs to develop tools to deal with my dad’s death and HIS dad’s death.

I expressed that to the therapist. I feel like I was brushed off. I raised it again. And again, I thought he was blowing me off.

Since we stated seeing this therapist, I haven’t felt like he was dealing with the grief issues. Glossing over them. Maybe even ignoring them. Bringing up superficial questions to satisfy my concerns, but really not “dealing” with it.

The problem is that Ethan likes this guy (maybe because Ethan doesn’t have to talk about anything that’s really bothering him). I’m anxious to see how the grief/peer meetings will go, and if that will help. In the meantime, I’m going to start looking at other options.


There’s a cemetery on the grounds of Ethan’s school. It’s right next to the playground, just off the school’s parking lot. It’s creeped him out since he started there earlier this year (just weeks before his dad died).

Late last week, Ethan got in trouble during gym class and had to miss recess as a punishment. It was halfway through recess when a school aide came into Ethan’s class to let his teacher know that the kids would be coming in early. “There’s a burial going on and we want to respect the family,” said the aide in explanation.

Ethan’s eyes grew wide, tears filled them, and he freaked out. He got up from his desk and ran to the other side of the room. He started sobbing, wailing. He was uncontrollable.

His teacher, who was widowed about five years ago, hugged him close. She ended up sending him to the principal to calm down before his classmates saw him all red-faced and blotchy from crying.

This caused chaos to the rest of his week. He couldn’t get over the burial that had taken place days before (even though he didn’t see it). He was acting out in class, being disruptive and argumentative.

When his teacher told me about this, Ethan and I were on our way out-of-town. Ethan and I had a deal that if he was good all week, he could spend the night with me (without Lauren or my mom) and help me get set up for homecoming the next day – which I would be working as part of my obligation to my alma mater. Obviously, he had a tough week, and usually I’m a hard ass about this kind of thing, but I couldn’t punish him for being sad. When there was a funeral right there.

We left the school and walked to the car on Friday afternoon. Ethan was crying – probably because he thought he wouldn’t be allowed to go with me. He climbed into his seat and I sat on the floor of the backseat, just below his feet. We talked about how sad we were about the deaths of my dad and Mike. We hugged. I told him how much he meant to me. Then we went to homecoming. Ethan, too.

Since then, he’s mentioned the cemetery every time we pulled up to the school.Things like this are hard. It sucks that there’s a cemetery right next to the school. But there’s nothing we can do about that – the grave yard existed YEARS before the church or the school. There aren’t many burials, and I don’t remember there being any since Ethan started school there.

I doubt any of his classmates were fazed by the burial last week, but Ethan was. Most kids probably don’t give the cemetery a second thought. It’s just part of the school grounds. But it’s a constant reminder to a little boy who lost his dad and grandpa within years of each other.

It’s tough.