Chapter 10 1994 - Mr. Jones

Adrian Alan “Spike” Jones, Sr. It was a mouthful, and Spike preferred his simple, masculine nickname over the full moniker. Spike and Emily had been married for nearly eleven years, and their ten year old son, Adrian Jr., was following his father’s early penchant for troublemaking, despite the efforts of his parents to quell the innate violence that appeared to be part of his genetic inheritance. Despite the fact that he was only in fifth grade, he was called into the principal’s office on nearly a weekly basis.

“Mr. Jones,” Principal Harlan Desmond would always begin, “what is it this time?”

With his many visits, Adrian was used to the questioning, and it barely registered that it was a punishment to be sent to the principal’s office.

“Mr, Jones, are you listening to me?” Principal Desmond continued.

“Yeah, I’m here. “ Adrian answered the question with a nonsensical answer, it was obvious that he wasn’t listening.

“Mr. Jones,” began the Principal a third time. “Would you mind telling me why you’ve been sent to me this time.”

Adrian responded, “It’s that punk kid in my class. I can’t stand him.”

“And which student would that be?” the Principal urged.

“I don’t know his name. He’s that punk kid in my class. That’s all I know about him.”

“So what is your problem with this ‘punk kid’?”

“He’s a punk, that’s what.”

“And just what does that mean?”

“He doesn’t respect my space.”

“And what is your space?”

“He sits behind me and kicks my chair. That’s my space.”

“And this is a problem because…?”

“It’s my space. I don’t like my chair being kicked!”

“So what did you do to defend ‘your space’?”

“I smacked him. That’s what I did.”

“You struck a fellow student? You know that’s against the rules, don’t you?”

“He didn’t respect my space!”

It was clear that an reasoned discourse was not going to work with young Mr. Jones.

“Mr. Jones,” the Principal continued, “this is completely unacceptable behavior, and there will be consequences.”

“What are cons’quences?” Adrian asked.

“Consequences are the resulting punishment for your continued bad behavior. I am going to have to meet with your parents to discuss this. For now, you need to go back to class, and you must be on your best behavior. I’ll ask Ms. Wilson to seat you away from your punk kid nemesis for the remainder of the class. No more trouble today, you hear?”

“Yeah, OK.”

Adrian returned to class, and upon returning, the kids in the class snickered. Adrian glared at them, but was directed to a new seat by Ms. Wilson before trouble could start.

The next day, Spike and Emily were called into the office to have a discussion with Principal Desmond.

“Your son is becoming a troublemaker, and is sent to my office weekly,” he began. “We are limited in what punishment we can inflict, other than talking with the parents. In my days as a student, if we got out of line, then the paddle was the answer. And as an answer it was pretty effective.” He paused and stared wistfully out the window, then resumed. “But that’s no longer an option in this day and age. We must use other means. I’m afraid those other means are suspension, or if the bad behavior continues, complete expulsion from the school. Our hands are tied in this situation. Adrian’s behavior is at least annoying and at the worst, dangerous to the well-being of the other students.”

Spike and Emily were is a state of shock. They knew Adrian was rambunctious, and sometimes played roughly with his friends, but they had no idea that he was fighting other kids at school, if that’s what the principal was inferring. Emily expressed their concerns, “How long has this been going on? Why haven’t we been told before now?”

“Adrian has been in my office three times in the last month, and last month twice. His classroom behavior is becoming disruptive, and the fact that he hasn’t been punished is beginning to influence some of the other students whose behavior isn’t exactly model either.”

Emily held her hand up to her mouth in shock. Spike continued, “What can we do?”

“We’ve tried reasoning with him, trying to draw upon his better nature, but it appears that he has none,” the Principal suggested.

Spike took offense, “You’re out of line there, sir. Our son is not a criminal. I think there is something else at play here.”

“I’m not implying that he’s born to be bad,” the Principal tried a bit of levity to defuse the heat in the room. “But there is something outside of the school environment that is causing him to act up. Perhaps you can work with the school psychologist to try to get to the bottom of it. May I make a referral for you?”

Spike agreed that that course of action had merit, and an appointment was scheduled for the following week.

“If Adrian is sent here once more before your visit with the psychologist, then I have no other choice that to suspend him until then. Please talk with him and explain the severity of these consequences.”

The drive home was held in relative silence as the parents considered their options.

Spike broke the silence, “Have we gone too easy on Adrian?” he asked Emily. “Are we unfit parents?”

“I don’t think we’re unfit,” Emily offered, “but maybe we have been lax in the punishment department. As an only child, I’m afraid he gets away with a lot more than he should.”

“Timeouts apparently weren’t enough for him when he was younger. And the last thing I want to do is spank him. He’s too old for that anyway, it can’t possibly do any good.”

“I’m absolutely without any ideas, either,” Emily said. “It’s going to be a long few days before the psychologist visit if he chooses to act up in between.”

Adrian managed to keep his calm on the day of his parent’s visit with the principal, and Ms. Wilson decide that the new classroom location might just become a permanent assignment. When class was dismissed at the end of the day, Adrian walked alone towards home until Carol, another student caught up with him.

“Why do you have to be so mean, Adrian?” she asked.

With an uncharacteristic melancholy, Adrian shrugged and simply said “Don’t know.”

“Mr. Desmond is gonna get you in a lot of trouble if you don’t shape up,” she continued. “He kicked Sam out of school. You don’t want that to happen to you, huh?”

“Getting kicked out of school wouldn’t be the worst thing,” Adrian considered. “I’m bored in school. It’s too easy and we never do anything interestin’. I want to play on computers like the kids at the high school do. Why don’t we have computers?”

“Computers are too hard,” Carol complained. “I tried one once, and all I could make it do is go beep.”

“Computers aren’t that hard,” Adrian suggested. “I played with one at the store and it was easy. We even had one at home when I was five, and I could play games and everything. My parents won’t let me play with the one at home, because it’s where my mom does the bills, but I bet if I had one, I could make it do all sorts of cool things.”

“I gotta turn here to go home,” Carol said, indicating the next corner. “Maybe your parents will buy you your own computer, huh?”

“I don’t think so,” Adrian complained. “I think instead I’m going to be grounded after they had their talk with Desmond today. Hmm. Maybe I’ll be so far grounded that I’ll be able to skip school next week. I’d like that!”

Adrian walked in the front door to meet his parents, waiting at the table for him. “Sit down, Adrian Alan Jones, Jr.” Uh, oh, full name was trouble.

“What?” was his simple reaction as he took the proffered seat.

“You know we visited with Principal Desmond today,” Spike began.

“Yeah, I know. He told me he was going to call you.”

“You’ve been getting in a lot of trouble at school lately,” Emily continued the conversation. “Why?”

“I’m bored. School’s boring.” Adrian continued, reiterating portions of his conversation with classmate Carol. His final conclusive statement was “I want a computer.”

“You have your game system, and you hardly play that,” Spike complained. “What could you possibly do with a computer?”

“I heard one of the kids in my class talking about how they had the internet at their house. He said there was lots of cool things that he found to do. He said there was a spiderweb thing that he goes on.”

“The World Wide Web” Spike confirmed. “Yeah, I’ve heard about it. But it’s just something for college kids. You can’t tell me that a fifth grader can get anything out of something like that.”

“That kid is on all the time and finds games to play and everything. The games I have are boring. I want the internet games.”

“We’ll think about it, but you have to behave.”

At the meeting with the school psychologist the following week, Spike and Emily raised their concerns about Adrian’s lack of interest in typical school material. The psychologist pulled Adrian’s file and looked at recent testing results.

“It appears that we’ve underestimated young Mr. Jones,” as she pored over the scores. “It seems he has a very high aptitude for applied math and languages, Our typical curriculum at his grade level emphasizes very basic skills, but it seems he’s actually capable of level exceeding those taught, perhaps by several grade levels. It’s no wonder he acts up in class, it’s one outlet for him, even as a negative one. But if we channel his energy and intellect into something more productive, perhaps computers, his behavior problems just might go away.”

Spike and Angela bought Adrian his first Macintosh computer the very next day.