If your family counseling takes place in a jail, it’s an automatic fail, right?

“What do you and your mom do for fun, Trey?” the counselor asks.

We are in her office. My son has already been incarcerated for about six months and not making progress. They thought family therapy might help him become engaged in his rehabilitation. So, we are all here: me, my son Trey and his father Andy. His father isn’t his biological father. He’s Trey’s say so father; he’s his father ‘cause we say so. But, mostly he is because he has been there day in and day out since Trey was three. Doctor appointments, open house at school, school plays, chess lessons and temper tantrums at McDonald’s play land. Andy has voluntarily stuck around through times I would have really thought about bailing if I could. I have the whole “he’s a minor, you are his biological mom and it’s against the law to bail” thing going.

“We go to the abortion clinic.”

“That’s what you do for fun with your mom, go to an abortion clinic?”

“I go on Saturdays to help escort clients into the clinic. The anti-choice demonstrators are very aggressive. Sometimes Trey comes with me,” I say, giving Trey a look.

“Those Christian’s are nuts. I’ve seen them,” Trey adds.

“We also watch movies, talk about books and go for coffee. Tell her that part, too.”

“Yeah, we do. You ever watch Barfly?” Trey asks the counselor.

“Barfly?” she asks looking at me. Trey answers before I can.

“It’s about my mom’s favorite author, Charles Bukowski. He was a drunk, never kept a job and is really ugly. He had a column in a paper too, Notes of a Dirty Old Man. You hear of it?”

“No,” she says faintly. “Ok. Now who lives with who? You are divorced?” she asks, trying to get to a safe subject. It doesn’t work.

“My Dad’s gay. They were never married.”

“Jesus. Will you stop already?” I ask Trey. He’s making us seem so fucked up. I mean we are, but not like he’s making it seem.

“What? He’s gay, right? What’s the big deal?” Turning to the counselor Trey continues, “I don’t care that he’s gay. Do you care that he’s gay? I mean if you do, that might be a conflict of interest. That’s all I’m saying.”

“Trey, shut up,” Andy, Trey’s dad says.

“No, I don’t have a problem with it. So, you and mom live together. Anyone else in the house?”

“My sister. Her dad’s straight.”

“Ok, and Dad lives by himself?”

“No, Uncle Jim lives with him. He’s a crack head. Oh, and my co-mom. She’s a heroin addict, but she’s clean now.”

“Co-mom?” she asks turning to Andy.

“She’s my domestic partner,” Andy answers.

“But, you’re gay?”


“And she’s a she and your partner?”

“They have a Costco membership that says domestic partner. It’s legit,” Trey volunteers.

“You’re doing this shit on purpose aren’t you? Just stop for Christ’s sake,” I say hitting Trey in the arm.

“She is my partner, but we don’t have a sexual relationship,” Andy replies.

“See, I really didn’t stand a chance. You’re getting that right? I mean really, out of all of them, I am the most sane one. I think this will help me get out quicker, don’t you? I’ve done pretty well considering,” Trey says gesturing toward his father and me.

“Sanest,” I say.


“You would be the sanest, not the most sane. That’s incorrect.”

“I do have really good grammar. I can communicate, express myself well. You can put that down. I’ll give ‘em that,” Trey says motioning towards her pad, encouraging her to give us credit for one thing.

“I think our time is up for today. This has been a great first session, such honesty. I will sort through… this, come up with some ideas. Next time we meet maybe we can list goals you feel are important for your family.”

She looks frightened.


3 thoughts on “If your family counseling takes place in a jail, it’s an automatic fail, right?

  1. HA! I recall two counselors coming to our house to do family counseling with us. I wish there had been that much honesty; I think we would have had a chance. The best part: about five years later, after my parents divorced, my mom has a date with one of the counselors. Yeah. Just…yeah.


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