Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Kids' World: Their Teacher Is Busted For Robbing A Bank, & Making A Suicide Threat In A Suicidal World Is Normal

One of my daughter's former substitute teachers was busted for bank robbery last week. He also allegedly robbed a grocery store pharmacy on the same day, just before the bank job, demanding Xanax and OxyContin.

His note to the teller was charming: "You have 30 seconds to give me all of your $100 bills or a bullet goes in your head. No dye pack!!", according to the bank and police documents. The note to the pharmacist was similar.

According to the story, when apprehended that evening and found in possession of the money and one of the medications he demanded, he asked the officer, "How did you catch me?"

This rogue teacher also allegedly used a BB gun.

After reading the story, I told my daughter. I thought I was telling her something new.

"Oh, that's old news," she said smiling.

"Old news?"

"Yeah. We heard about it Monday or Tuesday."

"Did he teach at your school?"

"No, but he was the substitute for my science class in 7th grade."

"What was he like?"

"We thought he was hot."

My jaw must've been hanging down because she laughed.

I walked to the living room, and there, told my son and his off and on girlfriend. They looked dumbfounded. Then they laughed.

He said jokingly, "I ought to use my [new] BB gun to do that!"

"Yeah," I said, "and get caught like he did."

All three of them were laughing, and I thought how a lot of antisocial and bizarre behavior is so routine that it's funny. Hell, it was even funny to me after I got past the shock. That story is something I'd expect to see in a movie, not touching the lives of my kids so closely.

Remember the Wal-Mart stampede almost exactly one year ago on Black Friday, which killed a security guard and injured others? They laughed at that too. Not because it was tragic, but because people greedy for the sales and acting like a herd of animals was so damn stupid.

I wrote a post on it then, One Nation Under Greed, and I've been wondering lately if there will be another stampede this coming Friday.

We are living in times that appear so crazy that I have to remind myself that there really is nothing new under the sun, and even if you rarely or never pick up the Bible, the Old Testament as a historical document alone has plenty of stories of pathology. A lot of people remained level-headed despite living among primitive and insane others. Because of this, I don't see all the evil in the world as a sign that we're at End Times, although I do think a social collapse, rioting, and a revolution of some sort in this country is on the horizon.

The economic meltdown combined with fixed news and fringe hate groups are fueling the stress, dysfunction, and outright wackiness in our country.

It's trickled down to my own family.

Last week was a bitch for me. On what was one of the best days I've had this year turned into one of the worse. I felt so successful one morning as I got ready for a job interview. Been waiting to get called for that for months. Ya girl here looked good and felt great, much like my contemporary, Michelle Obama must when she has a good day planned.

So I go to the interview, and I'm hitting home runs and answering questions on how I would deal with a suicidal client.

At approximately the same time, my son is posting a suicide note on his Facebook.

How's that for irony?

I found out afterward while shopping for dinner in the grocery store. A relative saw Xavier's Facebook and called him, but he hung up on him. Then relative calls me.

"Where are you?", he asks.

"In Giant."

"You need to get home right away..."

I can't describe my initial feeling of anger, followed by that familiar feeling of dread as I drove home and walked into the house, not knowing what I'd find. It was verrrry quiet in there, too quiet. Xavier hasn't made a suicide attempt in three years now, and I knew he'd been depressed over his relationship with his girl this month.

At 16 or 17 he stabbed himself in the gut - over being dumped by his first love - and at 18 he walked or fell into a moving car across the street from where GF #2 worked; she had been cheating on him and wanted to break up.

At 19 he felt suicidal and homicidal when GF #3 aborted his baby to go back to her baby's father, but I persuaded him take medication (which he otherwise refuses), and his feelings never progressed to an attempt.

Now at 21 and with GF #4, he struggles with not emotionally suffocating her in this relationship. He tends to do this and it's part of his temperament and the way he loves. She put limits on their time so she could pull her grades back up. He's a one-woman kind of guy, and too possessive, and because of this, sees her trimming their time together as a precursor to abandonment.

So yeah, you could say he doesn't take heartbreak well. I think it's from living in two very fucked up foster homes in his early years. Those homes should have been a safe harbor for him, but instead were as pathological as our society. It's made him insecure, manipulative as hell, vulnerable to alcohol and substance abuse, but also creative and insightful to everyone but himself.

So on that day, I set the groceries down and did a slow and painful walk-through of the house. To my relief, nobody was home.

I had an intuition when I first heard about his Facebook status message that it was directed at his girlfriend, as both a cry for love and a form of emotional manipulation to keep her from breaking up with him. This is why I initially became angry, he used to do this shit with me when he couldn't get his way or accept no for an answer. But not knowing if he was serious or not, and based on his past history, I felt the ensuing dread. His not being home brought an uneasy relief.

Cassie, my daughter, arrived home shortly thereafter. I told her. She's used to his drama, and as a rule, rarely takes it seriously.

"Pffft," she said. "I'm sure that wherever he is, he's fine. That [Facebook] line sounds like something from a song anyway."

Indeed, Xavier does pour his feelings into his music and song writing.

In he walks an hour later. Doesn't mention it. When I do, he becomes angry. When I suggest he get back on his meds, he becomes even angrier. He tells me to mind my fuckin' business.

We go through this same old dance the next day, and on the day after that, I stop speaking to him. I got tired of being cussed out. He hates it when I care when he's most vulnerable because it's embarrassing, but he hates it more when I don't. By that evening, he's very down. Not just from my reaction to his awful behavior, but from longing to work things out with his girl.

He comes to my bedroom door.

"Ma," he says, "I'm ready to take my meds."

Friday evening arrives, and he and the girlfriend, whose done all her homework, are hugged up and happy again in my living room. The world no longer looks so bleak to him.

With my daughter, they all laugh at the science teacher who once taught her, now busted for bank robbery. In their world, all of this is normal.


  1. A couple years ago, a middle school substitute teacher here in my city laid out lines of cocaine on a mirror on the desk and proceeded to do a line or two every few minutes. Between classes, alarmed students went to the principal's office to inform him, and the sub was subsequently arrested.

    Last year at my son's school, after a field trip one of the teachers volunteered to take one of the children home after his parents did not come to pick him up on time. But on the way home, the two of them stopped in the parking lot of a Walmart to have have wild, hot, buck-naked sex in the back seat. It was later revealed that the two of them had been having wild, hot, buck-naked sex all over the school for some time.

    When I asked my son about it, he expressed his disgust at the whole situation. But not because the act was immoral, but because in his words the teacher was butt ugly. "So," I asked him, "If she were attractive, you would have done the same thing?" He didn't answer me, and I didn't press him. Some things you just don't want to know.

    Things we only whispered about and wondered as teenagers--this teacher is sleeping with this student and this teacher gets high on the weekends--is actually front and center and on display for the children to see. I can only wonder what the implications are.

  2. Kit every time I read one of your posts concerning your son...It brings back memories of a period in time that was bad for me...I once remembered my son telling me "I'm going to kill my self."one time to many.

    I actual told him to go ahead his sister and I would put his behind in the ground and live off the insurance money.

    He was shock and hurt that I would say that to him but I had gotten fed up with the crazy things he was doing.

    I believe my son has a Bi-polar disorder in which he refuses to get help for.

    Kit,I believe we're becoming so accustomed to evil that it's scary.

  3. On a light (kind of) note: "All three of them were laughing, and I thought how a lot of antisocial and bizarre behavior is so routine that it's funny." It is true. There is so much craziness around that people really are not shocked by much any more. We are so accustomed to it that it is more like some reality television show than real life affecting real people.

    On a deeper note, I hope your days and your sons days get better and that he is able to handle the emotional stress that comes with relationships. There always is stress to some extent.

  4. Max, JJBrock, A.Eye, & others,

    Yesterday Cassie showed me this Shane Dawson video yesterday. It's hilarious, and mocks the things we worry about for our teens. I think it's also valuable b/c it indirectly teaches them about the stupidity and pitfalls of high school life.

  5. Wow, that's a lot to deal with. My brother has suicidal tendencies. Sometimes he's great and others not so great. He is so combative it's impossible to help.

  6. That video was disturbingly hilarious.

  7. Reading this post in light of a challenging weekend with my own child, reminds me that parenting is not for the weak. You just have to repeat that when you are having one of those days/moments.

    I am glad to hear your son is going take his meds.

  8. Devon, I'm sorry to hear this. You didn't say how old he is. This video, Schools Kill Creativity is excellent and addresses the needs of the individual. The speaker makes a wonderful point toward the end about people needing to be in a place where they can flourish. (Hat tip to Shark-fu.) Also, Devon, read my comment below to "All" about meds.

    A.Eye, "Disturbingly hilarious" is right. Dark humor is common with this generation and for good reason. I'm glad you returned to give feedback on this Shawn Dawson video (different from the serious one above). Hope the rest of you check it out.

    BGIM, Yeah, he's been doing great since starting back on his med. It's only a half a dose each night and works like a charm - such a difference than when years ago, one damn doc had him on five medications; he acted like a zombie and then had a terrible reaction the day after being discharged from the hospital, and ended up in the ER. This is why he was so resistant of going back down that road. He's lucky so far: it's just a break from the freeway of life until he refuels.

  9. All, I'm extremely conservative when it comes to medicating people and kids; most can work out their problems through talk therapy in individual, family, and or group therapy, or using resources like meditation or church counseling. I'm also a big advocate of minorities finding a professional of their same cultural or ethnic background. While this isn't necessary half the time, you'll have a feeling in your gut when it is.

    Some people need a little extra help via meds when they are dramatically dysfunctional, or suicidal, or cannot control their rage or thoughts.

    Sometimes meds are only needed on a temporary basis to get someone through an unusually stressful time period, for others, it's a lifeline. All of this should be carefully discussed with your doctor, including side effects, and using Google can help with knowing which questions to ask.

    Getting 2nd, 3rd, or more medical opinions may be necessary if a psychiatrist is unwilling to experiment with the best dosage for your loved one or you.

  10. Our kids are being exposed to a number of things at such a young age...It's no wonder that they are not shocked by such things as this.

  11. Kit, I'm glad to hear your son is doing better but *gasp* what an awful thing for both of you. My father attempted when I was a child and my best friend had suicidal thoughts for which she was twice hospitalised during undergrad. It has been heartbreaking, angering, and especially anxiety provoking. And yet, I cannot exactly put myself in your son's shoes or yours, of course.

  12. I don't think it's only the children/young adults. Society as a whole has been desensitized to a lot of things that normally would be extremely shocking or taboo. And as you stated, pathological behavior has existed forever - I believe the only thing that changes it or makes it different nowadays is the access we have to everything via the internet, other technologies and scientific advancements. People have always behaved in abnormal (for lack of a better term) ways but now it's instantly broadcasted and streamed across the world at the speed of light...or however fast is your wireless network.

  13. Kera, True.

    Karen, I imagine those events were quite hard for you. And yes, living with someone who is erratic in behavior is difficult.

    Monk, Man, so true. Before victims in the news even get home from the hospital or police station, it's all over the news and Internet. Things that were "unspeakable" when I was a child is part of the daily diet for public via the media, and forget about privacy if you're well known. Being a celebrity or a public official even if squeaky clean has its perils. It's crazy. Thank you for dropping by and sharing that point of view.


Hi, this is Kit.

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