Monday, August 22, 2016


     Braden just got back from a one-week trip to the East Coast with our church's youth group to attend an international conference. He showed great maturity leading up to it, not acting up as he used to before big exciting events. And after returning home mid-afternoon, jet lagged by six hours and sleep-deprived, he didn't just eat, bathe, and sleep as I'd expected, but restfully unpacked and stuffed his laundry in the laundry machine without being told and spent time talking with us, catching us up with all the people, activities, impressions, food, and day-to-day happenings at the conference. Since we'd had zero contact with him during the week, this was a big deal for us. Had it been worth it? Had he learned anything or grown? What had been interesting or new? He then worked on finishing his five-minute presentation to be given at church the following morning.
     A week later he was up to his usual albeit occasional antics by acting demanding, belligerent, and petulant when we said, No, You can't join rifle squad, you have to focus on academics (always a struggle for him). If you can get straight As for two quarters, then we may reconsider. Of course he acted like we were unreasonable tyrants and of course we acted like he was an unappreciative, entitled spoiled brat.
     Yet in the month leading up to his trip, he thrice volunteered at the Humane Society and caught the bus to and fro—this in part as a requirement for his first merit badge ever. I had to force him to get to it though—see my prior Breaking Strongholds essay posted on 2/29/16 regarding (I'd been a boy scout myself—it's easy, you go through the pamphlet and do each requirement step-by-step) because he's had a mental block against it and couldn't explain why. He'd said everyone treats him well and there's no abuse, and he's “Just not interested,” which I know is a lie because he is completely vested with every ounce of his being to defy, delay, deny, and make lame excuses to not start, do, or complete each requirement and then talk with an adult leader to review and sign off that he's finished and this has been going on for years and I won't bail him out now by talking to a leader for him because it's very important that he learn to fight for or at least ask for or insist on what he wants or needs or deserves to get ahead in Boy Scouts and in life and that good things don't come easy or fall in one's lap “just because” and that his “I don't care; it's not important” attitude won't serve him well in the future—not in college, the military, or the real world once he leaves home, possibly at age eighteen if he doesn't get his act together by showing respect, appreciation, obedience to all our reasonable requests and diligence with his school, home, scouting, and other responsibilities.
     More recently, I noticed on my pay stub a recruitment notice for election precinct officials. I called the contact number listed and Hallelujah, Braden qualified. Training consisted of a mass lecture in a crowded school cafeteria. Then primary election day, he walked over to the polling station at his former elementary school at 5:20 a.m. and worked the sign-in book, cross-checking registered voters listed to ID's and passing out ballots, and he got home before 7:00 p.m.
     It'd been an excellent experience since he loves politics (and controversy, in general, same as me as a young adult) and will get mailed an $85 check in a few weeks.

     We have recently instituted a No Politics at the Dinner Table rule to curb spoiled meals due to hot, angry, unending debates—not good for family felicity or digestion. Yet the other night when it was his turn to share, Braden said, “I heard that Trump-.”
     “No politics at the dinner table,” I said in stern warning.
     “It's not, he owns a hotel in Hawaii.”
     “Okay, one week of doing all chores!” I said for his rank defiance.
     He gave me belligerent lip and attitude and earned himself another week. He knows that anything to do with Trump is political and we both know that he just wanted to rile things up inappropriately, as he has all too often in the past.
     I've told him, “Talk politics with friends. They love to,” but I doubt he has, because as far as we can tell, he doesn't have any, hasn't pursued any, or doesn't especially want any. And this has been true for years. I'd clued him in on how to spot potential friends (sitting alone at lunch, looking bored, etc.) or how to approach, and what to say, but he apparently hasn't tried as if he's, “Just not interested.” I'm very concerned about this and have prayed for a Godly friend in his life. Sometimes I think he's just too picky, as if no one is loyal, bright, intellectual, Godly, mature, or accepting enough for him (not that he scores high points on any of these marks) or perhaps he feels he has insufficient to contribute? In short, social interactions on a friendship level has not been his strong suit, a point he needs to work on. Yet try as I might to create opportunities for him, I don't see how I could possibly force it or help it any further. He's fine with his siblings so I don't think it's a matter of social skills set or technique. I can only conclude that for now he'd rather be alone. Even when people approach him, I'd bet he must eventually give them cold shoulders. Please help pray for him if you will and for me, too, as to what I should do. Mahalo.

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