Tonight is Red's first private high-school social skills group. There are protest and objections when I remind him that we will leave at 6 p.m. He is motivated only when I say we will stop for a cheeseburger on the way. This gets him to get up from his computer and into the car.
In the car we start with the negative conversation about how this won't do any good:
"It's not going to help me get a girlfriend."
"No one likes me at school anyway. I mean no one really cares about me."
"So and so is not really my friend anymore. All she does is talk to her stupid boyfriend all the time."
We get off the highway and drive down Anderson Lane through an eclectic Austin neighborhood. "Keep Austin Weird" is the city motto.
"Is this a bad neighborhood?' he asks.
"No...this is just Austin."
We pull into the parking-lot of the coffee house thanks to the trusty navigation app on my phone.
"This can't be it. It's too dark."
There are no lights on the little parking lot and very little light emitting from the venue of tonight's meeting. It's dark and it's cold at around 27 degrees. The wind is blowing fiercely. Red has a tendency to move excruciatingly slow.
"Well...this is it and hurry up because it's freezing out here."
"I hope we don't get shot," he says before we get out of the car. Wow! Really? Shot?
I think he's a little anxious.
"Stay here," he says. "I mean make sure you stay here the whole time."
"Don't worry son. I'll be right out here."
He meets the group. They disappear behind closed curtain to their own private area. I can tell he feels a little out of place.
"How was it?" I ask.
"It was fine."
"Did you like it? Do you want to come back?"
In the car:
"Can I stay up till like midnight?"
"Can you tell me about it? I mean what did you talk about?"
"What specifically about social skills?"
"I don't know."
Is this going to work?
Will this do him any good?
Will it help him make some friends?
Become more self-aware?
I have no idea.
Will we go back?
Will I shell out more money for the possibility?
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