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Days of Our Work Lives: An unvarnished look at work today. Part III: Adam's Saga. Episode 2: Turning Adam into a Monster?

Part III: Adam's Saga  

Episode 2
Turning Adam into a Monster?

In the previous episode, Adam tried ADHD medication and it really worked: He became more focused in school and annoyed his classmates less often.

He had become more normal, including his typical response to the dinnertime question, "What did you do in school today?" Most nights he gave the stereotypical response: "Nothing." 

Susan and Ben knew not to settle for that, so they always followed with, "Come on. What did you do when you first got to school?" Marching Adam through his day often got to something interesting but this day it triggered something unprecedented: a bad argument between Susan and Ben.

Adam began it innocently enough. "Tomorrow it's my turn for show-and tell!  I'm so excited!"

Susan asked, "So what are you going to show?"

"I don't know. I'm just excited!"

Childhood often contains clues to what a person should do careerwise. For example, people fall on a continuum between terrified of public speaking and/or loving to show off. Adam's loving to show off could mean a career not just in performing but anywhere with an audience, for example, salespeople, trainers, and executives often talk before groups. Think back to your childhood. Does it offer clues as to what you should do, or how you should do it?

Ben asked Adam, "How about we go out into the forest now and find some really gross thing to bring for show-and tell?"

"Yay!  I love it!"

Susan didn't love it.  "It's dark."

Adam said, "So what?!

Susan: "It's dangerous. There could be a bobcat or even a mountain lion."

Ben was incredulous: "You gotta be kidding?! The odds of us having fun is 100%. The odds of meeting a mountain lion that will eat us is 0.0000000001%."

Susan said, "That's not the only reason."

"I figured."

"Ben, I think that when boys get into spiders, snakes, monsters, it makes them aggressive."

"You gotta be kidding."

"Ben, have you ever seen boys chase girls with spiders, snakes. It's aggressive, it's sadistic. Actually, it's sexist!"

"That's right, Susan, when someone disagrees with you, just play the sexist card." 

'It is sexist, Ben."

"Susan, that's just what teachers do: 93% of elementary school teachers are women and they adapt the curriculum to make it girl-friendly and boy-nightmarish. All the stories are about relationships. Boys like monsters, heroism. Teachers make active boys sit for hours doing worksheets. Girls love that. Active boys, even those on Ritalin, can't do that. There's lots of art when boys would rather play sports. There's endless insistence on cooperation when boys would rather compete. There are endless stories of amazing women, usually putting a man in his place---Every see a TV show, a movie, a commercial where a man shows up a woman? And you don't see that in the school curriculum either. There's endless attention to women heroes from Sacajawea to Harriet Tubman to Sally Ride to Hillary Clinton and to men from Hannibal to Hitler, Joe McCarthy to Slobodan Milosevic."

Adam said, "Who?"

Susan said, "See?!"

"Susan, boys are constantly made to feel like the inferior sex. No wonder boys are falling further behind in school, not graduating from college, having a higher unemployment rate than women. You know the stereotype--Boy doesn't go to college or drops out and is back on his parents' sofa, playing video games or stoned or both. Today's schools are for made for girls."

"So, Ben, schools should pander to males most base instinct?! That's why we have all the wars. Women aren't doing that."

"Without warriors, Hitler would have taken over the world.  And man's aggressiveness and bravery is responsible for countless accomplishments from firemen, yes mainly firemen, putting out fires to aggressively and bravely fighting convention to invent everything from electricity to the best treatment yet for breast cancer. Besides, you can't possibly believe that Adam going into the woods with me to find spiders and worms will make any kid, let alone sweet Adam, into a monster. How much do you want to quell Adam's natural maleness, huh? Huh, Susan?! Want to quell mine too?!"

Ben took Adam's arm. "Let's go. Let's go see if we can find a tarantula!" 


"Susan, don't take guy-fun away from us. And don't try to turn Adam into a girl!"

As the door slammed, Susan stared into the fire.

The next episode is HERE.

Cost to build a home in San Francisco? High six-figures

Appropos my colleague Kathleen Pender’s post on how much income you need to buy a house in San Francisco, this from a local real estate developer: Out of pocket cost to build a single unit of housing in San Francisco: $650,000; plus $13,000 a year in operational costs. This according to Oz Erickson, chairman of [...]

Days of Our Work Lives: An unvarnished look at work today: Part III: Adam's Saga. Episode 1: ADHD? Ritalin?

Part III: Adam's Saga  

Episode 1
ADHD? Ritalin?

In Part I we saw too-intense David die. In Part II, his wife Susan succeeded...moderately. Part II ended with Susan wondering how to decide when good is good enough. 

And that applied to her nine-year-old son, Adam, who while kind by nature, was also active by nature, and despite Susan and Ben's efforts to be good parents, was still challenging at school.

Thud! Adam's chair hit the floor. His teacher sighed, "How many times do I have to tell you to not tilt your chair back?!"

He loved that game. It gave him an adrenaline rush: "How far can I tilt without falling?" Of course, he'd occasionally go too far. 

Embarrassed, Adam picked himself up and tried to avoid further criticism by cleaning the mess on his desk. Papers were always spewing out of his desk and the same could be said of his backpack.

Alas, just minutes later, Adam had relaxed his vigilance and was back to "multitasking:" This time, while paying attention to the teacher's spelling lesson on "there," "their," and "they're,  he tickled the kid next to him and was concocting another of his "tests" that he would pass around the room. 

His previous creations included a three-question "Intelijence Test" and a "Populerity Test:" "Write who you think is the most popular boy and girl in our class." 

That day's offering: a three-question "Sex Test: How Much Do You Know About Sex?" As usual, before his kid's-version of a Cosmo quiz made it halfway around the class, the teacher intercepted it and was about to read it aloud to embarrass Adam until she read the first question, "Where does a boy put his peepee into a woman?" 

She had read Adam's record and noted that last year's teacher had urged that he go on ADHD medication but "The father (David) refused. He blamed the teacher: 'If only teachers would meet active boys' needs and make lessons more interesting, you wouldn't need to put him on a Ritalin leash.'" After school that day, she called Susan.

And she convinced Susan to take Adam for an evaluation by a physician specializing in ADHD.

He said, "Two-thirds of kids who try an ADHD drug show significant improvement  and quickly. Ritalin has been around forever so it's proven safe, it's as or more effective than the newer drugs, it's short-acting so he can take it only so it will help him during school hours. And it's available as a generic so it's cheap. There's little to lose by trying it for a month.

Susan wasn't convinced.  "What about side effects?"

"We'll try a low dose, and especially because it's the short-acting Ritalin, he should have little if any side effects."

Susan was not sold: "But if he takes uppers, he'll be deprived of the opportunity to learn how to adapt to his natural self, so he'll be forced to stay on them for life. And over time, won't he'll build up a tolerance for it so he'll have to keep taking more? Being on uppers for life, an ever stronger dose, can't be good for you."

The doctor responded, "While yes, some people stay on ADHD medication for life, some kids outgrow ADHD enough by adolescence to stop taking it. And the evidence is mixed on whether kids do develop a tolerance to it. Right now, we are 100 percent certain Adam needs help. It's worth a one-month trial. You can always stop it but why not see if he is one of the lucky 2/3?"

And he was. While no one could call Adam laconic, a fairly low dose put him in the normal range: He was far more able to stay focused, not bother other kids...much. And he was happy to be taking it: "I didn't realize how out of control I was." 

But not everything was happiness and light.

The next episode is HERE.

Mark Hopkins sold for $120 million

This morning, Woodridge Capital Partners and Oaktree Capital Management are announcing the purchase of the 383-room Mark Hopkins for $120 million from the InterContinental Hotels Group.   They are investing a further $20 million on upgrades, mostly for the guest rooms and public spaces, I’m told. This makes the second acquisition of a famed Nob Hill [...]

Days of Our Work Lives: An unvarnished look at work today: Part II: Susan's Saga. Episode 15: When is Good Good Enough?

Part II: Susan's Saga  

Episode 15
When is Good Good Enough?

In the previous episode, Ben helped Susan prepare for her presentation at Rotary. Although it was just a two-minute report from the entertainment committee, she was scared. She had an outsized fear of public speaking and, at age 38, this would be her first real talk to an audience. And it would be 100 people, all of whom knew her, all of whom would remember if she was terrible.

Rory, now the chapter's president, introduced Susan more richly than any committee head had ever been introduced:  "Boy, has Susan come a long way from working for me selling fertilizer. She now runs the most important place in Sage River. It's not a cafe. It's the place that makes us all get involved, be better citizens, better human beings: The Town Hall Meeting Cafe."

She looked fondly at Rory although quickly gave Ben a loving look lest either of them got the wrong idea.

After that encomium, the last line of Rory's introduction was comically anti-climatic: "Susan would you give the report from the entertainment committee?"

Susan was much better than she expected. She was natural, she was funny, and she was concise. Her preparation, the paean of an introduction, and periodic glances to Ben and Rory for support buoyed her.

Usually, committee reports are followed, at most, by the speaker's closest friends tepidly clapping. No, Susan didn't get an ovation but the applause meter would have been impressed. 

Afterwards, Rory asked her, "How are you?"

Not wanting to respond to his flirtation and having left her fertilizer job because she didn't know Excel, she responded, "Well, I've learned Excel and even QuickBooks."

"Okay, so how'd you like to be our club's next treasurer?"

When you need something done, ask a busy person. And although Susan probably needed to learn to say no to yet another time suck, she said, "I'm flattered. Okay."

"Next, I'm betting you'll be president."

Late that night, Susan and Ben, on the way to bed, stopped in to Adam's room. They often enjoyed taking a moment to look at the dear but active boy finally at rest. But this night, Ben could have no idea what she was thinking:

"I have a good life. I have a good son. I own a good cafe. I have a good boyfriend. I gave a good talk at Rotary; they want me to be treasurer. Everything is good but how do I know if and when good is good enough?"

Next: Part III of The Sapian Family Saga, Adam's Saga. I hope to post episode 1 on Feb 18 in the afternoon.

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