Ofer’s family genetic condition
Ofer was the second of three brothers. When Ofer’s youngest brother was six months old, it was discovered that both the baby and the oldest son had the same genetic condition which would cause them to develop major disabilities. Ofer tested completely healthy.
Ofer’s brothers went to a specialist daycare center, which allowed their parents to work. Nevertheless, the boys’ disabilities dominated family life, and there were often carers coming in and out to provide extra support. Ofer became self-sufficient early on, learning to cook his own meals and take care of himself. He would ride his bike to friends’ houses and hang out there until late, and even when he was at home, he’d retreat into his bedroom most of the time and do his own thing.
Ofer gravitated towards the troublemakers
As Ofer got older, he started to attract attention at school for all the wrong reasons. His independent habits meant that he hated being told what to do, which antagonized his teachers. He was used to doing exactly what he wanted, and he had no patience for other students who got in his way. He gravitated towards the troublemakers of the grade, and after a while, suspicions started to circulate that he was taking drugs.
Ofer doesn’t think he needs any help
Ofer’s school referred him to a Kav L’Noar therapist, but he was very unwilling to engage. “You know who needs help? My brothers. They need help going to the bathroom. They need help to sing happy birthday. My brothers need help with everything! You know who is doing just fine by himself? Me!”
Ofer’s therapist kept trying to draw him out, and eventually got a little information about his relationship with his parents. “My parents are busy with my brothers. They don’t have the energy to be interested in what I’m doing. I don’t think they even know what grade I’m in.” As the weeks went by, Ofer gradually opened up a little more. One time, the therapist asked what his coping strategies were when he had a problem. Ofer gave a big smile and said “unconventional medicine. I take what I take when I need to feel relaxed, or happy, or get more energy. You should try it! Much quicker and easier than all this talking.”
Caught by the police
One day, Ofer was caught by the police with a small quantity of illegal drugs on him. Because it was a first offense, the police took him home and gave him a formal warning in front of his parents.
As soon as the police officer explained what had happened, Ofer’s mother started shouting him down. “Our son is in 10th grade and just wants to experience life. He has so much to deal with at home. He is a credit to us and you can’t tell me otherwise.” Ofer’s father joined in. “You don’t know who you picked up. This boy is smart, responsible, caring. We tell each other every night how lucky we are to have him.” The police officer replied. “If your son is all that, please don’t let him ruin his life with drugs. He should be looking beyond high school already, to a good job in the army and whatever will come next. Don’t let him throw that all away on this garbage. I’ve seen it happen to too many nice kids like yours.”
It had been a real wake up call to hear what the police officer had to say.
At his next session, Ofer sheepishly told the therapist what had happened. The therapist said, “So it turns out your mom does know what grade you’re in after all?” Ofer laughed, but he was clearly very touched and surprised by his parents’ show of love and support. He also confessed that it had been a real wake up call to hear what the police officer had to say. Finally, he looked at the therapist and said, “I’m not making any promises about giving up, or at least not yet, but I’m ready to listen to your ideas about what else I can do to make myself feel better. Maybe you can help me after all.”
*All names and identifying details have been changed to protect client confidentiality.