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The next morning I had made breakfast for the two of us, but left it in the oven warming as Sean was still sleeping. I sat down in my favourite armchair in front of the living room picture window and read the Sunday paper. It was a crisp -10 ° C Canadian February day, but very bright, and the living room was basked in sunlight. It was very calming, especially the view out the window, as my unit backed onto a ravine.
About 10:30 Sean made his way downstairs and we had breakfast. I was getting used to making enough for 3 people, as he made short work of his breakfast. ‘?My goodness, where is he putting all that food in that little body of his. We are going to have to go grocery shopping again.’ I thought.
I sent him upstairs to get cleaned up and have a shower while I went in and made an appointment with my barber. I decided it was time to do something with that shaggy mop of hair of his. Most salons weren’t open on Sundays, but mine was, and I was able to make an appointment with Leo for 12:30. Leo was a young guy, late twenties in age and a great barber. I explained the situation with Sean and that he was in a fragile state. He understood, and I knew that they would get along very well. Sean was just coming downstairs when I hung up the phone.
I gave him a big smile and said, “Hey young fellow, I just made an appointment at the beauty parlour to get your hair done.”
He looked at me with a horrified look. I thought it was a little cruel to string him along and I said, “Just kidding, we are going to my barber Leo. He’s a cool dude, you’ll like him.” His face relaxed as he was very relieved.
Leo gave him a big smile as he ushered him into the chair and covered him up with the barber’s sheet. I stayed by the chair, as Leo had a fairly thick Iranian accent, and sometimes he was a little hard to understand. Leo asked Sean, and me, what style he wanted, and as I suspected that met with a blank look from Sean and the famous words kids say, “I don’t know.”
By now the other stylist Sherry came over, as she didn’t have a customer. Between Leo and Sherry they fussed over Sean, showing him different styles in a magazine they had. Finally he picked out something he was happy with and Leo went to work. Out came the clippers and hair was flying all over the floor. We could have made a few wigs out of the hair that was falling that would have made some of my bald headed friends very happy.
Three quarters of an hour later Leo was finished, and put on some hair cream as the pièce de résistance. Leo and Sherry continued to fuss over him as he got out of the chair. Sherry told him that he was a ‘hotty’, which drew a very crimson blush as he hung his head and looked at the floor. I certainly couldn’t disagree with her, as quite frankly despite the bruise on his cheek and split lip, he was a strikingly handsome boy. The haircut brought out his fine features and cute button nose. He was going to break some girls’ hearts… or maybe some boys’ hearts. Who knows, his sexuality was something that I’m sure he was still discovering.
As we walked back to the car I said, “Well I guess Sherry hit your blush button.” He looked at me with a puzzled look. “You turned about 5 shades of red young man.”
“Why did she call me a ‘hotty’?” he said with a very petulant look.
“It was a complement Sean, she was just calling you a hot guy,” I told him.
“I’m not hot,” he replied, again looking at the ground as he blushed.
“Well Sherry thinks so, and I wouldn’t use the word hot, but I will say you are a very handsome young man, especially now that I can see your forehead, eyebrows and those wonderful blue eyes of yours.”
It was now a couple of hours since he had breakfast, and I was sure his hollow leg was empty and needed to be filled up. I suggested we go to Horton’s as there was a location nearby in the power centre that I was very familiar with.
After we had ordered and picked up our food we made our way over to a table. Sean had observed that the staff was again very familiar with me and he asked, “Do you own this one too pop?”
I nodded my head and he continued, “How many of these do you own?”
I told him, “My partners and I own 4 locations in the area. John and another partner Dave take care of the day-to-day management, and my other partner Paolo and myself are silent partners.”
He looked very serious and said, “You are really rich aren’t you Pop?”
I looked at him and said, “I’m a lot richer now that you’re with me Sean.”
He smiled at me and dove into his food.
Sean was down watching TV in the media room and since it was Sunday night and I hadn’t done any work all weekend, I was on my laptop in the den. After I retired from the classroom my friend Ken Bainbridge asked me to work as an outside consultant to run some of the Board Of Education’s online training and community tutoring programs, as well as work on other special projects. Ken was the Associate Director of Education at the time. We had been friends for about 20 years, as his second wife was a bridesmaid at our wedding. My years of being the chair of the Business and Computer Studies department in the largest high school in the board and my BComm degree gave me the experience and skill set Ken was looking for. I also had extensive experience working for the Provincial Ministry of Education for a couple of years when I was seconded from the classroom. When I won the lottery I continued in that consultant role as I enjoyed the work and wanted to maintain my relationships with some of the people in the Board, as I certainly didn’t need the money. I did most of my work from home and at the various community sites. It allowed me to set my own schedule, and didn’t take too much of my time.
Sean came upstairs and walked into the den to see what I was doing. I explained some of the things about my work and showed him some of the online training applications I had developed and managed. He had some very good questions, and I could see that he had some computer smarts and a fair bit of intelligence. I didn’t however tell him about my classroom career.
He showed me his Facebook site and his personal website he was able to set up using the public library and his school’s computers. They were quite impressive for an elementary student, and I complemented him on his expertise. His face broke into a big smile, and he giggled. That was very refreshing to me as finally I saw some of what I hoped was his natural personality coming through. I left him alone for about a half and hour so he could log into his Facebook site.
“Well young man, it’s getting late, and you have a big day tomorrow, so why don’t you get ready for bed. Are you going to shower now, or in the morning?” I asked.
He told me he would shower in the morning, and asked, “What do I have to do tomorrow?
“You have 2 doctors’ appointments, some x-rays, blood work and another urine sample,” I said.
I could see he wasn’t too pleased when he said, “Why pop?
“Dr. Scott has to do a more extensive examine for CAS, because it’s a requirement of your foster placement with me. We are going to the x-ray clinic and lab at 7:30 tomorrow morning and then upstairs to Dr. Scott’s office,” I said.
He looked at me with a worried look on his face and said, “What’s the other appointment for?”
I paused, because I knew he wouldn’t like the answer before I said, “It’s with Dr. Barnet. He just wants to talk to you.”
He got up from his chair and stopped in the doorway and yelled, “I’m not going to talk to no fucking shrink!” before he took off upstairs and slammed his bedroom door.
‘Alright…. that didn’t go well. I guess he’s been through this before.’ I went upstairs and tried his door and it was obvious he was sitting against it on the other side so I couldn’t get it open. ‘Well this brings back not so fond memories of my teaching career.’
I hadn’t dealt with an obstreperous teenager for years and I went into damage control mode. I tried to coax him to open the door and talk but all he would say in a very emotional tone was, “Go away.”
I went downstairs and got my laptop, returned upstairs and sat down on the floor outside his room. “I want you to know I’m outside here buddy with my laptop, and I’m not going away until we talk. While we’re waiting I want you to think of whether you are following both of my rules that I told you about.”
After about 5 minutes I heard the doorknob quietly turn and the door opened a crack. I went in and saw him curled up in the fetal position on the bed with his thumb in his mouth and his back to me. ‘So is this what they mean by a happy and relaxing retirement?’ I decided that I would ignore the swearing and leave that for another time if it happened again, which I was sure it would.
“So I’m guessing you aren’t too wild about tomorrow afternoon’s activity? Dr. Barnet is a child psychologist, and a friend of mine, and he just wants to help you become a happy well adjusted teenager,” I said to the back of his head, as he hadn’t moved.
Finally he rolled over, took the thumb out of his mouth and pleaded, “Please don’t hit me….I promise I’ll be good.”
I was caught off guard by his statement, and I finally said after a short pause, “I’m not going to hit you Sean. You have to trust me. I never hit my daughters or any of my students, and I’m not about to change now. Real parents don’t hit their kids.”
Finally he sat up on the bed and I continued, “Dr. Barnet wants to talk to you to help you straighten some things out that I’m sure are bothering you. This appointment is also required by CAS. Remember the second rule about being the best person you can be?”
He nodded his head and I said, “Being the best person you can be doesn’t just mean getting well from your physical injuries. You have gone through a lot of mental trauma in your life and Dr. Barnet is trained to help young people like yourself deal with that and become better.”
“How do you know what I’ve gone through?” he said with a hard edge to his voice.
“Sean, I’ve seen your CAS file.”
“You’ve seen my file and you still want me?” he said incredulously.
I put my arms around him in a tight hug and said, “Yes.”
We sat like that for about 2 minutes and finally I said, “Are you better now?” He nodded his head yes. “You’re putting me through my paces young man.”
“I’m sorry pop, I promise I’ll try harder,” he said in a soft voice.
Both of us were now exhausted and when he was ready for bed I came in, tucked him in, said goodnight and headed off to my bed for the night.