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Now that the problem with Rachel had been initially resolved, the follow-up started. Becky, the girl who had given Rachel all the trouble was kept in custody until her trial, since she was a repeat offender and on probation. The boyfriend was not kept in custody, but he wasn't allowed to return to the school and was put into an alternative education program while he awaited his trial, as was Becky's girlfriend. Since all of them were young offenders (under 18 years of age) their identities couldn't be published in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
However, the results of their trials were and when they were finished Becky was sentenced to a year's probation and a one month jail term, fifty hours of community service and she was banned from using social media for two years. Her parents, who were not terribly cooperative with the justice system throughout the proceedings, were to monitor this, after she was released from juvenile detention. The judge was very clear on what would happen to the parents and Becky if this was not carried out in accordance with his sentence.
"Hopefully the parents learn something from this, but I doubt it. I wouldn't be surprised if they're hauled back into court with her before the year's probation is up," Dana said, when we heard about the results of the trial from Janet.
Rachel had to be present in court in case she was called upon to testify, but luckily the Crown prosecutor didn't need her, as the evidence was straight forward. The boyfriend and Becky's girl friend had similar sentences imposed.
Even though all three of them had been removed from Rachel's school, she felt uncomfortable because of how some of her classmates and friends had treated her, so she was allowed to transfer to Sean and Jake's school. We arranged that the boys would pick her up in the morning and drive her home in the evening, since there was no school bus available. Jake was thrilled, as was Rachel, that they were now in the same school.
Jake was particularly pleased when the boys came in the door after the first day of the second semester.
"Guess what. Rachel and I are in the same Theatre Arts class," he said, as he was smiling from ear-to-ear.
"Is that the only class you have in common?" I asked, as I hadn't seen the kids' timetables beforehand.
"Unfortunately, yes," he answered.
"That's really too bad, dear," Dana said, with a very unconvincing tone. "I'm sure you two will survive, though."
I could tell she was thinking the same thing that I was, that this was a good thing that they weren't in any more than one class together. This wouldn't make for too much distraction and they would be able to concentrate on their other subjects. Rachel was also in Sean's Math class.
Before we could find out other details about how the first day went, the whirlwind came in the door from the school bus, stepped out of his boots and dropped his coat, backpack and toque on the laundry room floor, as was his usual custom. And what was also custom, was Dana's reaction.
"Garth, did you hang everything up and put your snow boots in the shoe tray?" she asked, knowing full well he hadn't.
He immediately turned around to go back to the laundry room and after he returned he sat down for his snack. He wasn't too chatty because he was focussed on eating quickly, as his father was dropping by early to take him and Glen to the Dance store to get an important piece of equipment. However, he did have time to tell a quick joke, after he swallowed his last bite.
"What did the bag full of corn say?" he asked.
We could tell he was in a hurry, because he didn't really drag this out and when none of us was forthcoming with an answer he told us the punch line.
"I'm all ears," he said, followed by a half-hearted chuckle.
He didn't seem to really be into the joke and I wasn't sure if he knew what the punch line meant.
"Who told you the joke, Garth?" I asked.
He told us that Ronan did and then Dana asked him to explain the joke.
"I don't really know what it means, but Ronan and his friend laughed," he said.
Sean decided to help him out and when he explained what an ear of corn was, he finally understood. We were now chuckling at his expression, which was much funnier than his joke. Just then, John arrived to pick him and Glen up.
"I don't know why Garth can't use his hockey jock, but Igor strongly suggested he and Derek get something called a dance belt," John said, when he came into the kitchen.
Garth was a little embarrassed about the topic because Dana was there, but that didn't stop Glen from adding some clarity to the discussion.
"You can see the leg straps of a jock through the tights. The dance belt is like a thong, so it shows off his little butt," he said, as he gave his totally embarrassed brother a smile. "And, it keeps all the important parts together and out of the way of those 'thunder' thighs."
Garth went beet red and was at a loss for words, which was something we hadn't seen for a long time. It also didn't help that Jake, Sean and Glen were chuckling.
"Well, I think it's time we got on our way," John said, changing the subject in case Glen was going to add more details.
We were sure that Garth was going to give Glen a piece of his mind in the car on the way to the store, based on the look he gave him as they went out the door.
As was the usual situation in the family, Sean and Jake's activities were keeping us busy. The boys' hockey team had managed to make the championship game and they played the team from the neighbouring town, minus Becky's former boyfriend, who had been removed from the team when he was charged.
Rachel was now back in the stands and her presence for the championship game, along with Melissa's, helped the two boys focus. They played major roles, as we easily beat the other team and won the trophy. This was a bit of a bittersweet moment for me when they were presented with their individual trophies after the win, because I wasn't sure the boys would be playing hockey next year. The house league team for boys 17 and above didn't always get enough players to run, so it was not guaranteed that the opportunity to continue playing would be there. Their other activities, along with the increased demands of their last year in high school, were also going to make playing league hockey difficult.
"I don't remember being this tired when Lorraine and I were taking the girls to their activities when they were growing up," I said, one evening as I sank into my easy chair in the living room.
"That was a few years ago, dear," Dana said. "You know you're older now."
Her comment was a bit of a reality check and as much as I was enjoying being involved in their extracurricular activities, it was becoming a little taxing for me. Coaching their hockey team was a very big time commitment not only for the boys, but also for me and I wasn't going to miss that part of it if they weren't playing the next year.
That wasn't the only championship we watched, as the next day, Carson Spencer's travelling team was also in the championship of their southern Ontario league against a team from Toronto. There were quite a few OHL (Ontario Hockey League) scouts at the game and Carson was one of the players they were interested in. We were sitting in the stands with Doreen, Carson's mom, during the game.
"I guess Carson's excited about the OHL draft coming up," I said, to Doreen.
"Yes and no," she said. "We think he's going to be drafted, but that means he'll have to leave town and go to another school."
She told us that he was feeling a little nervous about leaving home, as was Doreen. Even though he had come a long way, he was still a little emotionally fragile and very much attached to his mother and his peer group. She was afraid of him having a setback with so much change in a short period of time.
"He knows if he's drafted that he can't turn it down, because it would mean passing up an opportunity to play professional hockey in the future, which is his dream," she said.
We continued talking about what had transpired over the last few months and it appeared that the London Knights were interested in drafting him. This wasn't too far away, but it was still a two hour drive in good weather, which would make it difficult for Doreen to see him play in the home games. He would be billeted with a family in London, but he would have to make a new group of friends. From the conversation it was clear that Carson's coach didn't have much experience in this whole process and he wasn't able to give him a lot of guidance.
"Perhaps it's time Carson spoke to someone with a little more knowledge of the hockey business," I said.
I told her that I knew of a hockey agent that had many OHL and NHL players as clients. He had been a teacher in the board, but he also had contacts with someone who ended up starting one of the top hockey agencies in the sport. For years he was an agent part-time while he was teaching, but the demand grew, as he was very good at the business. After taking a leave of absence for two years, he finally resigned from teaching and went full time as an agent.
"I'm sure there are other options for Carson and my friend Dan Pelligano should be able to help him sort things out. He may even agree to represent him," I said.
The game was very well played, but it was obvious from the start that the Toronto team was stronger and faster. However, Carson and another boy on the team were standouts and on a few occasions during the game, we saw a couple of the scouts talking to each other and pointing at Carson. The Toronto team won by a score of 5 - 2 and Carson got one of the goals and the other boy got the other one. When we met him in the lobby of the arena after the game he was obviously disappointed, but he was happy that he had played well.
"Mr. Burger is going to have one of his friends contact you next week. He's a hockey agent," Doreen said to him, as she gave him a big hug.
"Mr. Pelligano will be able to help you sort some things out, when you get drafted," I said, as I put my arm around him and gave him a squeeze.
"You mean if I get drafted," he said.
"No, I mean when you get drafted. I don't think there's any doubt about that after what we saw today," I said, as I gave him a big smile.
His face lit up and he hugged his mother. He still had some self-doubt that he needed to get over and get back the confidence he used to have when we first met him.
"See, I'm not the only one that thinks you're a great player," Doreen said.
Now that the hockey season was over and my coaching duties were fulfilled, Dana and I had decided to go to the house in Naples for the March break. The boys weren't joining us, as Sean was signed up for a week long golf clinic at an indoor facility near the Glen Abbey golf course and Jake was at the indoor soccer facility nearby, also in a clinic where he was getting instruction and giving some to the younger kids.
This was a needed break for me now that I was back teaching one class in the morning and the two of us were looking forward to going to a sunnier climate, even though it was only for a week. At least I thought it was supposed to be a week, but Dana was very apprehensive leaving the boys alone for the first time and it somehow shrunk to four days.
"Those boys are going to starve," she said. "I'm going to cook up some meals for them tomorrow in the catering kitchen, so we can freeze them."
"Those boys are good cooks. You taught them well, dear," I countered. "I'm sure they can survive nicely without us for the four days. Besides, you've bought enough food to last them for two weeks."
"But what if something happens, like a fire in the house, or .... ," she said.
"They'll be fine," I said, as I gave her a big hug. "Susan and John are close by, if there's an emergency."
The boys didn't share Dana's concerns and they were looking forward to the independence, even though their love interests weren't going to be around. Melissa was going to be in Naples with her grandmother, Anne and Rachel was in Toronto at the Royal Conservatory of Music's week long youth clinics.
The trip south was a welcome break and we had a golf game the first day, followed by dinner with Melissa, Anne and her husband, Monty. Melissa was a little bored, as there weren't too many kids around in the complex for her to hang out with and she certainly missed Sean. During the evening of the second day, we got a call from the boys.
"Hi Dad," Sean said.
"Hello, son," I replied, curious as to why he called.
There was a long pause and then he said, "It's Sean."
"I kind of guessed that," I said.
I could tell from his voice that this wasn't a casual call and I wondered what crisis had hit the household. By now Dana was hovering over my right shoulder, anxiously waiting for the details.
"Um, I think the toilet in our bathroom is busted," he said.
"You think it's broken?" I replied, ignoring the interesting word choice to describe the malfunction. "What does that mean?"
Jake was on the other line and he piped up and said, "The flushing lever is broken and the water was running all the time and we don't know where it's going."
By now Dana had grabbed the other phone and was frantic.
"Did you check downstairs in the media room if there's water coming from the ceiling? They need to call a plumber, Al," she said.
After the three of us calmed her down and the boys explained there wasn't anything leaking I was able to get more details.
"The toilet wouldn't stop when I flushed it yesterday and we figured the tap on the floor was where the water came from, but we couldn't turn it off, cuz it was stuck. So, Jake found those clamping things that look kind of like scissors, in the workshop," Sean said.
"Do you mean pliers?" I asked.
"Yeah. We just turn the tap on the floor off and on when we need to use the toilet, or we use the one in the powder room," Jake said.
"But that's a pain and we thought that maybe you'd know how to fix it, so...," Sean said.
They were smart boys, but they were lacking some basic understanding of home maintenance that they would need in the future. I could see that I needed to do a lot of work with them on this. They were on the portable phone, so I told them to go the bathroom to see if we could fix the problem over the phone.
"Take the top off of the toilet tank," I said.
"That comes off?" Jake asked, astonished at the revelation.
After some interesting conversation with them, I realized that the chain that attached to the handle had come loose and I was able to get them to reattach it.
"Wow, that's cool," Jake said. "It works."
Dana was now back beside me and I had the phone on speaker and she rolled her eyes and shook her head. Before we hung up we asked them what was new and of course we got the standard answer of 'nothing'. Sean wanted to know what Melissa was up to and we brought him up-to-date. We could tell that he was really missing her and if it wasn't for the fact that he really wanted to attend the golf clinic he would've come with us.
"Those clamping things that look kind of like scissors! How can those boys be so dense?" Dana asked, after we hung up.
"That's a really good question, dear. Common sense isn't always a strong point with teenage boys. However, they are resourceful."
The first day back after March break, we got caught up on what Glen and Garth did over the holiday, when they arrived after school. Glen spent the week in Toronto at the Toronto Art School and he was being mentored by a professional artist. This was his Christmas present from John and Susan. It was a very productive week for him, as he told us he learned a lot in the short time.
"I learned how to make some of my own paint using umber, charcoal and burnt bones," he said, with more excitement than was usual from him. "I also got some good tips on portrait painting."
His mentor was in his 60s and was knowledgeable about some of the older painting techniques.
"He also showed me how to make my own canvasses from light sailcloth. Once I got onto how to make them, they're a lot better than the ones I buy in the art store," he said.
We asked him what he painted and he was a little evasive and I thought it was odd when Sean changed the subject to something that wasn't remotely connected to what we were talking about.
Garth was heavily involved in rehearsals over the week with Igor, for the documentary. They were putting together a dance with some of the girls from Mandy's ballet class and Ms. Pauline was helping Igor along with Irina, Igor's wife.
"It's a folk dance," Garth said, with his Russian accent, which he was getting good at imitating.
"And who is your partner?" I asked.
"Mandy, sometimes," he replied.
"Ooh, your girlfriend," Sean and Jake said, teasing him. He wasn't pleased and stuck out his tongue at them.
Finally the big day was here for Garth and Derek's presentation. There was quite a large audience, as there were lots of family members watching. Katie, Marty, Kyle and Carol came in from Toronto and joined us, which we were glad to see.
"We told Baryshnikov one and Baryshnikov two that we would be here to see them dance. We wouldn't have missed this for the world," Katie said, as Carol and she smiled.
Bengt Jorgen spoke to the audience before things started and he explained many of the details about the documentary, which was being filmed.
"These boys are athletes, involved in hockey and basketball. This is their first exposure to formal dance instruction and ballet," he said.
Igor then addressed the audience and explained what we were going to see in the first part of the performance. He also told us that he had played hockey in the Ukraine as a kid and that he knew what the boys were going through with the teasing from their peer group and how demanding ballet is on certain muscles not used in hockey.
"These boys have worked hard and we're very proud of them. I'm going to lead the boys through a typical practice session and you'll see the basic ballet positions and moves," he said.
After that, he told us that we were going to be treated to a simple dance that Igor had choreographed, with a lot of input from the boys, to show off the skills they had learned. The boys were dressed in a white tee shirt and their tights and they did a great job, for the limited instruction they had had. Igor called out the instructions as they went through the moves and positions and the routine.
"Master Stuart, your tongue," Igor said, after they had started.
"Derek always sticks his tongue out when he's concentrating," Janet said, as she chuckled.
The boys did an excellent job and Katie and Carol were impressed.
"That was pretty good for young boys," Carol said.
"Especially after only a couple of months of instruction," Katie added.
"What did you think of the 'dammy plays'?" I asked them.
After I explained what I was talking about and Garth's story about Igor's birth, they laughed.
"You must be entertained every day, with that boy," Katie said, to Susan, John and Glen.
"Some days more entertained than others," John added, with a smile.
Despite the fact that there were two videographers constantly recording the demonstration, they didn't seem to bother the boys or Igor.
There was a break while the boys changed and the girls came onto the dance floor. Ms. Pauline then talked to us about the last part of the demonstration.
"This is a folk dance that the boys are going to perform with some of the girls from my ballet class," she said.
The boys were now back and Garth and Derek smiled and waved at us then they got into position for the dance. They had changed into loose fitting collared white shirts, with balloon sleeves and black pants.
Irina had joined the instructors and positioned herself next to Igor. As things progressed, it was obvious that Irina was instrumental in the boys' instruction for this dance. She was quietly and elegantly giving reminders to the boys with her voice and gestures.
All four boys did a great job and they looked so serious as they held their partners' hands as they danced. There were some intricate moves and I was glad no one stepped on toes or missed a cue and it was obvious Irina and Ms. Pauline had done a great job. When they finished, the instructors and Bengt were the first ones to clap. After Bengt made his closing remarks a photographer got all the participants together and took some still pictures.
The kids made their way over to us in the audience when the pictures were finished and got big hugs and lots of flowers. Bob and John made a special effort to congratulate their sons, which both boys appreciated very much.
"Did you like it?" Garth asked John.
"Yes, son, I did. I don't know much about ballet, but you boys looked pretty good to me."
This was a huge validation for Garth, because he was always sensitive to John's opinion on his performances. Given John's initial reluctance to let him take part, those words meant more to Garth than the accolades and flowers.
We weren't the only ones to hug the boys, because Igor couldn't resist letting them know how fond he was of them. It was obvious that Garth and Derek were his favourites and he made a special effort to come over to say goodbye before we left.
"Perhaps I'll see you two in a future ballet at the Four Seasons Centre," he said, referring to the home of the National Ballet Company of Canada.
I couldn't see where Glen was, as I expected him to be one of the first ones to congratulate his brother, but he had disappeared. However, after a minute he re-appeared with what looked like two paintings wrapped in brown paper wrappers. Both sets of parents knew what was coming and were smiling.
"I hope you like them," he said, as he handed each of them one of the packages.
They got an oil painting of themselves in their ballet clothes at the barre. They were really very well done and both boys were speechless. After some moments when Garth recovered, he gave the painting to Susan and then gave Glen a big hug. Derek forgot himself and did the same.
"This is what kept me busy on March break in Toronto," Glen said, clearly happy that Garth and Derek liked their present.
We were very excited about seeing the finished video of the documentary and we were invited to the screening a couple of weeks after the demonstration. Once again, Bengt Jorgen said some introductory remarks after he thanked everyone that had come out to the premiere showing.
"We're very happy with the final product and I think you'll find it entertaining, because we certainly did in more ways than one," he said, as he looked over at Garth.
The producer added his remarks and said, "We had a hard time deciding which video diary clips to use, because we had some very...," he paused and smiled as he was looking for an appropriate word, "animated young men."
As we watched, it was quickly evident what Bengt and the producer were talking about. The video diaries were quite revealing and the other two boys' efforts were fairly straight forward, but there wasn't as much footage of them as there was of Garth and Derek. They were the most entertaining of all four and a lot of what was shot of them ended up in the final product. Garth started each session with one of his jokes.
"Two dogs were walking down the street. The one dog says to the other, 'Wait a minute, I'll be right back.' and then walks across the street and sniffs this fire hydrant, then comes back. The other dog says, 'What was that about?'"
"Hurry up, Garth, or I'll turn off the camera," Glen said, after a few seconds of his giggling.
"Ok, Ok. The first dog says, 'Oh, I was just checking my messages'."
We could hear Glen groan in the background as Garth was chuckling. Then he went on with what had taken place that day in the lessons.
"We learned something new in today's class. Yesterday we learned 'dammy plays'," he said, as he gave a very accurate impression of Igor's accent. "And today we learned demi pliés," he said with his best French accent, as he started into his famous chuckle.
"I don't think that's a good idea to be saying that, Garth," Glen could be heard saying in the background. "Remember, Igor's going to see this."
Derek was also very dramatic, but in a different way.
"It's just so hard," Derek said, clearly exasperated as he put his hands on top of his head in one of his clips. "I just don't know how I'm going to do the stuff Igor wants us to do for the demonstration."
Rachel was finding him a great source of entertainment and we could hear her chuckling as she kept leading him on by asking him to explain. He got a little annoyed after a while, as he realized what she was doing.
"It's not funny! I don't want to look like a goofus during the demonstration," he said, as he pouted.
There was also a clip of Igor telling a joke in Russian with the translation on the screen.
"I found a wood that can lower Master Webster and Master Stuart's golf score. It's called a pencil,"
This was followed by an excellent impression of Garth's giggle, complete with Garth's signature hand over his mouth.
After the showing, we stayed for the refreshments that were put out for the guests. Bengt, Irina and Igor were very gracious in their praise of Garth and Derek and also very appreciative at their cooperation.
"I hope your ballet lessons are going well with Ms. Pauline," Bengt said.
"And, I hope that you're paying close attention to what she's teaching you," Igor said, as he smiled.
It was obvious that the three of them were very fond of the two boys and that they were going to miss them as they gave them a hug before we left. Irina also gave them a kiss on the cheek, which made them blush.
The documentary wasn't the only production being created by one of the family. Jake and Rachel had written a play together in the Theatre Arts class, which was one of their class projects. The subject was homelessness and they got very high marks from their teacher for their efforts.
Having Rachel and Jake in the same Theatre Arts class was actually working out very well. They weren't distracted, according to their teacher, who I had had some conversations with in the staff room and they were valuable contributors to class discussions and group work.
The week before the upcoming Foundation board meeting, Sean and Jake were putting together a proposal and it had something to do with Rachel and Jake's play. Since Jake and Sean were on the board representing Jake and Sean's place, we had to have the meetings in the evening. The boys weren't just window dressing, as they spent a couple of Sunday afternoons a month helping out at the shelter and they were aware of what was going on.
Carol was still on the board, but she had scaled back her duties as Mark Depew, the Executive Director, was doing a great job running the show. After we had an update by Mark about finances and operations we had some items of new business. Two of the items were from Sean and Jake.
"The boys have two things they want to bring forward for your consideration," Mark said, as he gave the floor to Sean and Jake.
"We want to get the kids involved in something that they'll find fun and where they'll learn something," Sean said.
"Rachel and I wrote a play about homelessness and we want to produce it and have the kids from the shelter acting in it, along with some of our friends," Jake said.
Everyone thought that was great idea and the boys had worked out some of the logisitics. There was more work to be done on the proposal and the board enthusiastically gave the go ahead.
The second proposal brought forward, dealt with the Weekend Backpack program that the boys suggested a year ago and had been up and running for a couple of months. This was a program that targeted some of the poorer families in Sean and Jake's old school and provided nutritious food over the weekend. It was called the Backpack Program, because the food went home in special backpacks that the kids picked up each Friday.
"We're very discreet so as to keep the identities of the families secret. Only the school administration and the teachers know who they are," Mark said.
At present there were twenty-five families that were part of the program who met the criteria that Mark and his staff had developed.
"We need to be able to add more families to the program, because we know of lots of other kids in our old school that need some help, too," Jake said.
"These kids aren't the real needy ones, but they meet most of the criteria. There isn't enough money to include them, though," Sean said.
"We'd also like to deliver hot meals on Sundays to the real needy families and have someone check up on them to see if they need other help," Jake said.
As usual, the boys had brought up a great idea and we had a board discussion about how to fund it and carry it out. Because of the tough economic conditions, sources of funding were becoming more difficult to get.
"Perhaps you boys could put together a report about how many additional kids and families you think should be added and then we can come up with an implementation plan," Mark said.
I was chuckling, because I knew the boys had already prepared something and had handouts for everyone. Between the two of them, they had done a great job, with Jake doing the written part and Sean the financial projections and costing. Everyone was impressed with the thoroughness of the document but unfortunately, the money needed was a problem.
"I think I know of another source for some of the funds, but I'm not sure if I can squeeze the rest of the funds from the existing sources," Carol said.
During the discussion one of the Board members, Gary Scott, was silent and looked like he wasn't really paying attention. He owned a small film and TV production business in the nearby city and had been recommended by Carol for inclusion on the Board.
He finally spoke and said, "You know, maybe we should use Jake's play as a fund raiser. I could get some of my staff to help out with the polishing and production."
Jake was thrilled and after a lot of discussion a meeting was set up for the next week to explore the idea.
"I guess I'll need to see the script beforehand," Gary said to Jake.
"What's your email address?" Jake asked, with a big smile.
Canadian Youth Criminal Justice Act
Ontario Hockey League
Ballet Boy with instructor
Hockey playing ballet dancer