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Monday
Dec172012

Family Life Badge

Yesterday I met with a boy scout about his Family Life Badge. He was one of the young men who hiked in New Mexico this summer. 

 
"Did your dad go too?" I asked.
 
"Yup. He had a personal trainer to get ready. Actually my mom gave it to him for Christmas." I wondered about the reaction last December, when he unwrapped an inconspicuous, ribboned box. Perhaps he was hoping for tickets to a hockey game, or a power drill. 
 
"Six months of a personal trainer? Gee, er, thanks hon. That will be...um...great."
 
I have no idea what the price tag is for a gift like that. Pay someone to make you sweat harder. But his dad got where he wanted to go.
 
Benjamin has a therapist who has cranked up the energy recently. She is determined to get him ready for life. One week she assigned him to interview six people about their jobs and what skills are required to accomplish them. This of course happened on my watch, not hers. Another time she told him to call a friend and arrange a playdate. Let me try to describe how Ben responds to the phone. He can text just fine, in fact he is quite particular about capitalization and punctuation, and will take a full five minutes to scribe two sentences including a closing. But when it comes to speaking into the phone he holds it six inches from his ear just in case there is a leech waiting to squeeze out of the tiny holes, and the volume of his voice would not wake a sleeping baby. We had the playdate, which involved two boys splashing in the same pool, exchanging perhaps six words in two hours.
 
"Hi, Ben," with prompt. 
 
"Hi, Alex," also with prompt.
 
"Bye," with prompt. 
 
"Bye." Spontaneous. Small success. 
 
I notice my resistance to this therapist. She comes in with a lot of ideas about what we will do. It is not that she does not have good suggestions. She researched a farm that gets special needs kids together with ponies, and a bowling league he can join. But the follow through involves a bunch of effort. And cash.
 
I wonder what a marriage coach would look like. She comes barreling into your life barking out orders about exercises and playdates. Then she comes back the next week to find out if you followed through. Sounds exhausting. 
 
But maybe it would help couples get where they want to go.