"You hear laughter breaking through, it makes you want to fart. You’re heading for a breakdown, better pull yourself apart. " - John Cooper Clarke

>Todd N° 5,376 (and still going)

>I’ll give my son merit: he’s incredibly good at screwing up other people’s weeks.

I can feel it from here, still, the air exhaled from my Ex’s body as he saw our son off to Italy. An entire week without Todd is indeed a blessing, but behind every blessing there looms a dark cloud ready to piss on your Happy Parade. And Monday was no exception.

The Ex received a letter from The School which was followed up by a Phone Call. The day after the concert, last Friday, Todd managed to insult just about every single one of his teachers resulting in a retenue (I think that’s how you spell it – my written French is pretty crap) which means that Todd will spend next Monday at school doing any school work that happens to get thrown at him. As I get the feeling that the teachers really dislike the boy and that this will be his second retenue (I didn’t even know there was a first one this year), I can imagine that he will be kept pretty busy. All day.

And just as my Ex is jumping around shrieking Oh merde! Oh merde! The search for a school is getting even more difficile, he receives a phone call.

“Monsieur Ex?”
“Je vous telephone from Italy – it’s about Todd.”
“Oh non! Has he had an accident?”
“Non, non, Monsieur, c’est lots more serious than that….”

[I thought death was more serious than an accident, but then, this is Belgium.]

It appears that Todd and about 15 others decided to go out on the piss on the Monday night, as you do on school trips. But instead of coming back at 10.30pm, they decided to roll in at midnight, as you don’t if you already have one day of being locked in a classroom to look forward to. Todd now has two. One more and he’ll be expelled which will make the joy of looking for another school even more difficult, unless it’s one of the poorer schools that needs more students in the centre of town, somewhere Todd really isn’t comfortable.

So that has been looming over our heads since Monday. The Ex doesn’t do stress too well and ends up throwing up all too easily. I let stress get to me until I end up driving the entire household insane and find myself being dragged along to see my darling Italian doctor who throws anti-depressants at me as if they were Smarties.

Yes, I take Happy Pills.

Well, I should be.

So the Ex and I have been in contact about this – well, I’ve been in contact as the Ex seems to be allergic to calling me, and I now want to settle on a punishment that we will both throw at Todd.

My suggestion was to ground him from going out until after the exams which is around 20 June. The Ex ummmed and said he’d think about it and get back to me. I’m still waiting. While I was talking to the Ex I mentioned that I was pretty annoyed that he didn’t stick to his ‘tough love’ with regards Todd’s broken tooth.

“Mais non! It wasn’t me – Todd ask my mother and she made the dental appointment for Todd.”
“She what! Well, I suppose that as his Mamy… Why didn’t she call you?”
“I don’t know, but Todd had his tooth fixed behind my back.”

So that explained the tooth story as the Ex was all for Todd going to Italy looking like a fucktard. This made me call up my ex-mother-in-law and ask her if ever Todd asks for something when he’s spending the week here, to call me first. Fortunately, we are all in agreement with this and the poor woman was almost apologising for having had Todd’s tooth fixed, “mais Zoe!, he was so proud of his broken tooth! Je n’understand pas!” – but had I been in her shoes, I would have probably done the same thing. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Todd returns today and is expecting to go to a party tonight, his dad told me.

“What the fuck! Listen, you are not really going to let the boy go, are you?”
“Non, non – he didn’t even ask me. After last Friday and Monday – in Italy, the only place Todd is going is to bed.”
“Enfin! You’re learning, Ex. Get back to me about your idea of a punishment if you think that I’m being too severe.”
“Salut, Zoe et bonne soirée.”

Still no frigging email.


  1. Vida
    Posted Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Zoe, I have a cunning plan. When the yearly midi fair arrives, sell him. Feed him in between now and then high protein to build his muscle, buy him a muscle t shirt 2 sizes to small and viola! Ask him to say hello to my two.
    Don’t thank me.

  2. Posted Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Send him on to Teen boot camp USA.
    Check here

  3. Posted Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I still say Benedryl. It makes you sooooo sleepy.

  4. Posted Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    No advice, mine is just three. I’m already battling.
    GOOD LUCK is all I can say here.

  5. quarsan
    Posted Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    I’ve found a new school

  6. Posted Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Well, I really sympathize. This is not good. I teach teenagers and have one on the way up and the only thing I think works is tough love. He is crying out for boundries, so I suggest you ground his sorry ass. He cannot go out. That would send the message that what he is doing is OK.
    By the way, the only other thing I suggest is drinking. You, not him. Sante!

  7. Dd
    Posted Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Quick, before he gets back send for loads of Prospectus from really grim, single sex boarding schools – preferably somewhere really remote and grim, like Gordonston. Or perhaps army school like Welbeck – lots of marching and assault courses. Make sure you have a heap at both his homes. When he gets home, then lots of phone calls going on, shutting up the moment he gets near the room you are in.

  8. quarsan
    Posted Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I’ve given the Legion his mobile number.
    Step one completed.

  9. Posted Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    A sound thrashing seems in order!

  10. Posted Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like a real party boy, with help from his school friends, perhaps another school is in order. Yes, try those live away military ones, at least he’ll be out of the house. Or Q’s suggestion, they’ll build a man.

  11. Posted Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    Q – You’re wasting your time. The Legion Etrangere only accept decent, hardworking, upright men of quality.
    They wouldn’t even consider delinquient rebellious yoofs who have no respect for anyone; not even themselves. These so called “hard kids” wouldn’t survive five minutes of the basic training. You need guts and stamina and a sense of loyalty to join them.
    Sorry to say this, but Todd seems to be lacking in all those departments. I would not like to think I was in a fire fight with someone like him covering my back, and I had to rely on his help.

  12. Posted Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    The Ludavico treatment

  13. Posted Friday, May 1, 2009 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    GAGH!!! I feel your frustration.

  14. Posted Friday, May 1, 2009 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    Well, at least the recrowned tooth is explained. Todd sure knows how to play one adult against another, doesn’t he? All the more reason for you and his dad to really be of one mind in dealing with him. Hope the Ex goes with your punishment suggestion (or maybe comes up with something else suitably draconian?).

  15. Posted Friday, May 1, 2009 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    The Ex has decided that Todd should only be stopped from going out this weekend….
    In that case, if the boy isn’t home immediately school stops, I won’t let him go out the next weekend that he’s here.
    There’s a reason why he’s an Ex – he just reminded me of it.

  16. Posted Friday, May 1, 2009 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps a summer vacation in the jungles of Colombia. You’ll only need to pay for a one-way ticket. When the insurgents release him in five years (realizing that no one’s ever going to come up with the ransom) he’ll be of legal age and will have to fend for himself.

  17. Posted Saturday, May 2, 2009 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    In the fullness of time – with any luck – Todd himself will one day have a child who will – as they do – reach the teenage years and you can sit back, observe and experience deep joy. Hang on in there.

  18. John Norris
    Posted Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I have to chuckle at Pat’s suggestion that Todd will eventually experience the other side of the coin.
    What would worry me more is that Todd is arguably out of control – downwards. He has had to repeat a year. The idea of that is presumably to do better than last year, but you don’t say anything about that other than he has managed to upset lots of Belgian teachers. He does sound like a total pain, and I might give up on him.
    But you haven’t got that luxury. For better, worse or even worse, he is half yours. I’d be pissed off at M.Ex’s feebleness, but he does have the other half. So keep up the good work with stiffening his backbone.
    And get after that school. They really aren’t doing a good job.
    They are supposed to be the professionals, but what plan have they got? Their responses, as you describe them, don’t sound remotely tailored to the case. They seem rather to be just going through the motions. That clearly isn’t good enough.
    Sorry to rant, but the situation does seem to demand it. At the least it may make you feel better!
    John Norris

  19. John Norris
    Posted Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Postscript – at least Todd must make you feel the girls are such a relief, whatever they get up to!
    John Norris

  20. Posted Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    We found that withdrawing pocket money cut the drinking down – but remember to hide everything remotely alcoholic in the house.

  21. Posted Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Thank you John – thanks everybody.
    Anybody want the latest?

  22. z
    Posted Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    My friend Daphne, whose adopted son is arguably worse than Todd, thinks he’s finally growing up (at 28) and taking responsibility for himself, largely thanks to a lovely girlfriend. My other friend Bobbie has been through hell with her elder son, but he’s getting married next month. It’s all down to the right woman in each case. You may have a while to go, but don’t lose hope. I think you’re doing the right thing in disengaging and not always taking his mistakes as your problem, and do work on that, to minimise the stress on yourself.

  23. Posted Monday, May 4, 2009 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    1) Ground the boy until after the exams. He was allowed to go to Italy on premise his behaviour improved. It did not. Any shit out of him, and he is not allowed to go to the end of exams party either.
    2) Stop all allowances; money now needs to be earned by good behaviour. No money = no beer/drugs. Hide your purse/valuables.
    3) No girlfriend staying over.
    4) When he’s next badly behaved/violent, either verbal or physical, go into his room the next day & take his favorite belongings & clothes out. Sell them on ebay/give away on freecycle. If you don’t fancy that, put it in a train station locker. He doesn’t need to know.
    5) Send him to Gambia/Tanzania with Q’s advice as to which fearsome african woman would be best to change his ways. Strict parenting is what he needs.
    6) If he does anything illegal, call the police. No ifs no buts.
    Skype me for a moan & hugs