Saturday, June 10, 2006

My Summer Job: "Child Opposition Disorder"

"Joey" is a small kid. Not tiny, but definitely small for his age. So my initial thought when he started hitting other kids in our group of 6 and 7 year olds, was that he was getting picked on for being small. I was wrong. Joey was going out of his way to hit kids, make them mad and then coming crying to me when they hit back. Usually, I ignore this sort of crap- boys will be boys and such.

My co-counselors (in my group) have all been much nicer than me. This may be because they are all female, who knows. In an altercation, they might spend a minute or two sorting it out, asking about people feel etc. In that same time span, I might tell a kid "Then don't sit next to him." And point my finger angrily in the direction of the rest of the group. I've come to realize, that, in general, parents at this camp suck. I'm not going to coddle little Timmy because he got kicked in a soccer drill. Suck it up, toughen up and get your butt back in the game. However, back to Joey.

It is camp policy to keep parent's informed of their child's behavior- the good and the bad. It's a good idea and also covers our asses in case kids start rambling about the evil counselors and their time out corner. So, while I was off moving water cooloers, my poor co-counselor was left to talk to a mildly psychotic parent. Joey's mom apparently turned a bit hostile, asserting that her son "went to a rigid Catholic school" and that this was "his time to go a bit wild." Yeah, that's all good and well lady, but when your son decks a kid in the face it is a little beyond "wild."

The next encounter with Joey's parental unit I was privy to. His dad came to pick him up and immediately asked to speak with me and my co-counselor. The conversation went a little like this:

Dad: Well, what's the issue?
Greg: This week Chris has had a lot of issues listening and getting along with the other kids.
Dad: He's a good kid. My wife talked to you already, he's a good kid.
Greg: I know, it's just our policy to let you know when we are having problems. We want to communicate with you.
Dad: Joey also has a condition. You're aware of ADD?
Greg: (I happen to think ADD is nothing a ruler to the head can't cure but whatever) Yessir.
Dad: Well Joey has a condition where he doesn't like to follow rules. It's called Child Opposition Disorder.
Greg: (silence)
Dad: They do the opposite of what the rule is.
Greg: Oh.

The conversation pretty much ended here. I stood in stunned disbelief. A condition where the child doesn't want to follow rules? Umm... I think I've heard of that... HOW ABOUT BEING A KID? How typical for some crock doctor to make a disorder up for crappy parenting. Next they'll be a miracle drug to cure this "disorder."

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of my interaction with Joey is that my tough love is actually paying off. Towards the end of the week he was showing signs of improvement. Sadly, it was his last week.


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