Out of Sync

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About Helen Peppe

Helen Peppe is a writer and photographer whose work has appeared in artistic, literary, commercial, and educational publications nationally and internationally. Currently a participant in the University of Southern Maine's Stonecoast Writing M.F.A. program, she lives with her family in Westbrook, Maine.

Comments

  1. this is ridiculous. the doctor says “don’t leave him alone with girls!” and you hired a teenaged girl to babysit.

    the doctor says “don’t let him watch porn, it could damage him.” and you let him have open access to internet porn.

    and then you let a 21 year old homeless woman move into yoru house so he could have some “in-house” to spare yourself the stress of him going to Portland to get it.

    and yes you should have called the police and told them an adult was having sex with your 15 year old…because i’m sure his birth certificate said he was 15 years old.

    would have been so willfully enabling if this had been your daughter rather than your son?

  2. I agree with everything A concerned pediatrician/physcian said.

    I would also like too ask you this: Why did you leave the decision whether or not to receive the injections up to your son? I mean seriously, what were you thinking? He was only 9! This is like asking a 9-year-old “Do you want to drive this car or not?” and doing whatever he says! You seem like a horrible parent and I am glad to say my own mother is nothing like you.

  3. People judged me harshly too, about my son’s behavior, although I was afraid to talk about our problems as openly as you do. I think you are brave, and if it makes other people feel better like it has me to read your story, it was worth it.

  4. This is just the story of “how we spoiled our child and blamed it on his puberty”

  5. Alison Dehetre says:

    It is sad to see the abusive remarks on this writer and her family. This reminds me of a story I had written about my son and his errors he made in life. Remarks were made towards my family as well as only to my son. I remember one day at work and I was so upset and a physician looked at me and stated, “these people do not know you or the whole story, what is written is only pieces and these people have nothing better to do than blog and be hateful”. Today, reading all of these comments brings it all back about how hateful people can be ona sad situation for a family. I read this story as a learning oppurtunity. I also realize that for the full story it would have to be a book. To read that this child started college at a young age and has turned out the way he has is incredible for him and the parents that raised him. Parenting is difficult and everyone judges you on how it should be done. I was shocked to read a couple of comments that Alex should have had a belt or paddle. That is called abuse and one needs to trend carefully when using those tactics.

    I appreciate the story and would be interested in reading the whole of the story. To the mother and father that raised this child, hats off to them for the parenting skills they choice.

  6. In all honesty, the problem of these parents has nothing to do with precocious puberty. Rather it has to do with dealing with a kid going through puberty in general. Sure, a normal 11 year old boy might not have the physical appearance of a grown man, but I don’t think these parents understood that without proper parental supervision, these days sometimes an 11-year-old and most obviously a 15-year-old boy will want to look at porn and have sex.

    The purpose of parents is to give your kids boundaries. Without them, they’ll go ape-shit like Alex apparently did. Freedom to grow is necessary, but to a certain extent; remind them that you are their parents, that you make the decision, that you have the ultimate authority. My parents did that with me, and guess what: I have a great relationship with them. I am thankful that they did not let me run wild and make decisions that I would regret in the future. I am thankful for their guidance, which these parents failed to provide for their child by letting him live in the basement in relative isolation and bringing a 21-year-old homeless girl into the house for their pubescent child’s pleasure (COME ON. WHO DOES THAT?).

    I think these parents did a huge disservice to their child by not providing him with therapy from the beginning, and I think it is stupid that they did not use medication (to me, it’s almost like refusing to give your kid vaccines because you’re scared they’ll become autistic… by the way that claim was totally falsified in case anyone is still stupid enough not to vaccinate their kids). We have medical developments for a reason: so that people do not have to live with disability. Precocious puberty is a disability, because it affects quality of life. But even if the parents decided against medicine – it is understandable, perhaps there were undesirable side effects – they should have had therapy from the beginning. Of course, I don’t know all the details of the story, but I have a strong feeling that many of these therapists didn’t want to deal with a rage-filled teenager and parents who, as the author said, wanted to be involved as little as possible.

    You’re a parent. BE INVOLVED. It’s your child, and your responsibility. Don’t try and push the responsibility onto someone who is not capable of handling it. You said it yourself: he was intellectually and physically mature, but he was not emotionally mature. You were supposed to be there for him, emotionally, and you weren’t.

    To the mother and father that raised this child, you messed up. Admit it.

  7. Ripping Action says:

    That’s right, Helen.

    All doctors are infallible. All you had to do was give him Lupron and all your problems would have been solved. All of these folks writing to tell you this know firsthand.

  8. I am Alex’s father. A lot has been said in these comments recently that is based on misunderstandings and which has been mean-spirited and unnecessary. I want to clarify some points.

    First of all, many people seem to be under the impression that Alex decided himself not to take Lupron and that we allowed that. This is not true, and it is not what the story says. The story says “Eric and I agreed to involve Alex in decisions about medication.” And also that we weren’t going to force him. This story is Alex’s story and only includes his part of it. Helen did not write about the angst-filled and agonizing decisions that were made behind closed doors. The final decision about Lupron was made by three people: myself, Helen, and our pediatric endocrinologist. We were in unanimous agreement not to use it. Helen foreshadowed this by writing our doctor “was Michael J. Fox-short, confident despite his stature,” because fear of “shortness” is the most common reason for using Lupron, and our doctor was vociferously not afraid of shortness. If that got by any readers Helen hammered the point home in a later paragraph, when our doctor, speaking as a parent, wouldn’t give the drug to his own child. Writing more than that on this topic wouldn’t have been appropriate because that would have been our story, not Alex’s. Had Helen or I or the specialist thought it best that he take Lupron, he would have. Alex didn’t want to have six teeth extracted, but our dentist said it should be done and it was. He didn’t want all his inoculations and immunizations, but he got them. This would have been no exception. Lupron at that time was believed to have many negative side effects, including permanent reduction of memory function and softening of the bones, leading to herniated disks and other problems later in life. Helen mentions many of these and then questions how many other side effects there are that are still unknown.

    Still we wonder if not using Lupron was the right decision. Helen certainly was not saying in the story that we made the right decision. She only writes what decision we made.

    Another topic people have commented a lot about is the pornography. Helen writes that we didn’t want to control his Internet pornography, but this decision came after years of trying to do just that. We fought to stop it all day, often every day, for years. But there is WiFi in every neighborhood and at every university. Finally we came to the conclusion that this was a battle we could not win and that the energy we were spending on it could be better used in other places. The original draft of this story had some explanation in it, and some description of how this battle unfolded, but it was taken out because Alex found it embarrassing. And this is his story, not a defense of our actions.

    Again, are we recommending other parents give up their fights? No. Are we saying we did the right thing? Absolutely not. At the time, it seemed like all we could do.

    And then there is the matter of the homeless woman. Again, we did not simply let this happen. For months the police, the courts, and an entire team of medical professionals who were not mentioned in the story were involved. We all agreed, after months of agony, that the approach we finally took was the least of a multitude of evils. Everything that happened over this period of time, and with all of these people, is left out of the story, again, to save Alex embarrassment.

    Once more, was it the right decision? This is the one that haunts me the most. I certainly wish it hadn’t happened, but it did, and I can’t undo it now. So it is in the story.

    We decided as a family to share a limited version of our story. Alex, in particular, thought others should know that there are happy endings to what may seem like a miserable and often unbearable time. It is surprising to me that after reading 5000 words about ten eventful years in a young man’s life, many of them wonderful, that some people think they have all the information needed to draw informed conclusions and comment negatively.

  9. Wow thanks for sharing what must have been a difficult journey.

  10. I think you guys did a wonderful job parenting.

    Please ignore the idiots. Do not waste time defending yourselves from the fools, remember after all how fat, stupid and unhealthy the majority of the people in this country are, and remember that they also exist on the internet.

    Your son’s accomplishments speak for themselves.

    It was a lovely story. Thank you for sharing it.

  11. One more thing: giving your son unrestricted access to porn was a smart move your part.

  12. Fhqwhgads says:

    “There was no limiting his access to the Internet even if we’d wanted to—which we didn’t. Eric and I agreed that Internet pornography would allow Alex a sexual outlet that was the safest of all the alternatives. We didn’t tell Alex of our decision, but we chose not to control the pornography unless he used it inappropriately…”

    “Maybe we should have called the police and told them that an adult was molesting a minor, but would that have been the truth? How old was Alex, really? Besides, we didn’t think the relationship would last long.”

    Eric, those quotes tell a completely opposite story from what you told in your comment. I can’t blame people for being upset about the original quotes. What you say tells a much more believable story, and a much more helpful one for people to read. If the added details were too embarrassing to the subjects of the story, then maybe it needed to be told with more anonymity, but definitely not without important details like the ones in your comment.

    In the end, I’m very impressed that you both stuck by your son and that things turned out better. That is an important message to tell the world.

  13. I lied, I did have one other thought I wanted to share. Beyond judgments of your actions as parents, I think it’s awfully courageous and generous of you (and especially Alex) to share this story. Hopefully other parents in a similar situation will find it helpful.

  14. You deserve a pat on the back for the parenting decisions you made. They weren’t necessarily conventional, and i’m not surprised that you are getting a lot of flack for them – but they were the right decisions for your son and your family.
    I’m 24, and while I didn’t deal with anything nearly as extreme in my own childhood, I can tell you that the brute force parenting that a lot of people here seem to think you should have exercised with your son does more harm than good. I was always mature for my age, and I deeply resented the way some adults felt the need to control me because I was technically still a child. it didn’t work, it just creates unnecessary friction.
    Kudos to you for taking your own path!

  15. I thought this comment was insightful (by Confusion on another site discussing this topic):

    “This is just your regular puberty story, displaced a few years. I fail to understand the alarmist responses of the medical professionals. Why would they worry about pregnancy with someone age 9, but not age 11? The parents seem to suffer from a ‘we are so special; our problems were so different’ syndrome. Why would allowing someone aged 11 to watch porn be a larger issue than allowing your child aged 14 to watch porn? Since when is a child hitting his dad at 15 different from one hitting his dad at 17?”

  16. Eric, I am glad that you have spoken up. I think what everyone needs to understand is that not all of the critical comments are meant to be mean-spirited. I don’t know about everyone else, but that surely was not my intention. My personal thoughts come from my experience and what I personally believe, and I think I am entitled to that. After all, allowing comments makes this a public forum, and not every comment you get will be “Great job. I’m glad everything worked out.”

    It’s very good that you put more thought into Alex’s problems than it seemed initially from the story, but like Fhqwhgads says, the quotes in the story simply do not agree with what you said. Consequently, it’s not really a misunderstanding by the readers but an omission by the author that has led to more critical comments.

    I still stand by my original comments, but of course I am glad that in the end everything worked out for your family.

  17. Hi!
    Very interesting story. My father was precocious as Alex. I was not.

    But I have to agree with other people that you both let too much control to your son.You said a life can’t be summarized in 5000. Well, it can for someone who had studied this.

    I like dog training, we share a lot of the mammalian brain with then and you learn a lot with that. Dogs need physical exercise for feeling good and to know where they are in the status chain. People need too.

    Children growing up are always “testing” their status and if they don’t get a firm and clear message at first, they will progressively “test the waters” and conquer new terrain.

    In boys, they will test the manhood of the father, and if they can, they will usurp it. I got a slap from my father the only time I face him shouting he had no “coj*nes” to slap me. It was slight slap, just symbolic, but I never forgot and had problems with my parents since. It’s difficult to explain, but if he had not I would have lost respect to him, it gave me an unconscious message of strength .

    What he did to Eric or his mother means he was in charge, in control, he was the boss of the house. Nothing to do with hormones. I had friends with very high levels of hormones in much better situation than those that had no rules, no boundaries that got puberty much later(I had a male friend that started puberty at 15!) .

  18. … And please don’t misinterpret my words… I know parenting is not easy, but we could always improve and learn something. Bye

  19. Thank you for your story. I applaud your decision to not take the “easy” (medication) route and do what parents have done for thousands of years. Be there, do your best, love your child.

    I would like like to thank you particularly for (what I assume to be) your purpose of writing this. To bring awareness of the condition. It is unfortunate that so many comments come from those that seem to think that you were looking for parenting advice or kudos (and are more than willing to give it to you).

    Best of luck to you and Alex!

  20. By high school, puberty is commonplace among boys, and every boy wishes that they had hit puberty early. To look like an 18 year old at the age of 13 is a blessing. Most of the situations in his high school years is stuff that all boys go through, although, to be fair, their mothers don’t usually find out. I don’t think that having a 21 year old girlfriend at 16 is so extremely strange to be described as “so out of sync with his age and his desires”. Especially, if you consider that she was, for all intents and purposes, a prostitute.

    The first few years of early puberty are extremely difficult, and it is the reason that I clicked this article. However, the rest of the article was not needed, especially as it got increasingly hysterical as the situations got increasingly normal(?).

    This is hardly an ordeal one has to “survive through”. Emotional scars are the scars from a ruined home life, from children who grow up without parents, or children who lose parents or friends. They are not the result of awkward situations that are caused by being more physically mature than your peers.

    I do not have the knowledge to approve or disapprove of your parenting skills. In my opinion, you did fine, but I obviously don’t have the credentials to give a qualified opinion. These are merely my observations as a young male, who was recently gone through high school.

    Also, @Jose, the only time my dad ever raised his voice or laid a hand on me is the only time that I ever made my mother cry. He was not abusive, he did not beat me, it was the only time he ever did it, but he made his authority absolutely clear. I know that violence is absolutely frowned upon in today’s society, but I think that at times the father has to show that he is the head of the household.

    • “…but I think that at times the father has to show that he is the head of the household.”

      Not only do I dislike the implied sexism of this comment, but I also disagree that parents should not be punishing to remind their children they are dominant. Parents should be punishing their children for merely disrespecting them as human beings–the parents–not reminding them they hold the authority.

  21. Thank you for the engaging tale. I know it must have been difficult to post such intimate details for all to see, and the criticism you’ve received from anonymous strangers cannot have helped. But I think you’ve done a lot to help people understand this medical condition, and its severe implications for a family. I’m glad this story has a happy ending.

    • Isn’t the whole point of the story that it isn’t really a “medical condition.” Her son is normal, despite having grown up a little different from peers of his own age. That’s what I’ve gained from it, at least.

  22. Hi, as a fellow sufferer from precocious puberty, it was nice to read your story and your family`s triumph over a hard period of your lives. It was also nice to read about another guy suffering from this, as all you hear about is girls having this condition even though boys suffer too. I too started puberty at 9 and by 14 I stopped growing. Initially it was very hard for me as I was the tall hairy duckling and was much more interested in sex than anyone my age. At 15 life got better as my peers started to catch up. I still looked older and more mature and girls took a liking to that. Many people treated me as an adult when I was 13, so I had alot of catching up to do to act like one. At 17, all my male friends and even some females ones grew past me. Like your son I ended up being 5’7 ( I`m now 24) and feel like I was robbed of some height as I am now the shortest guy in my family. I am even shorter than some of the girls. My dad is 5’11 and it hurts to know that I`m so much shorter. I`m now a short adult male who girls reject because of my height. Besides losing that, I feel as though I was robbed a few years of my childhood. I grew up way too fast. But such is life,if I could go back in time and get treatment I would. But I can`t so I have to work with that I have. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my story.

    • I know it probably doesn’t feel like it, but the average height for a male is 5’9″ to 5’10″ — you’re not that far off. Height is as much in our heads as it is how far our heads are from the ground. The studies that have been done which compare (within the same professions) height to wages shows there’s no real strong correlation between a how much you make over similar peers compared to your height. Where there is a legitimate correlation in wages is your height *at age 16* — in our formative years, when we put so much focus and onus on it. Tall people who were ‘late bloomers’ made less money than people who were taller than them at 16. In other words, it’s very much in our heads.

      I think we, as a society, did a lot to harm teenagers in their formative years by putting such an onus on height. It either screws up our confidence, or gives an unmerited ego boost to those who did nothing to gain it. Instead of focusing on how tall kids are as they grow up, they should just be taught that height is a wide spectrum and that, at least for the male sex, it doesn’t matter of you’re 6’5″ or 5’6.” Either one of those numbers is completely normal.

  23. I think this article merely goes to show that “normal” is actually a wide spectrum across the human species. So long as there’s no medical cause for concern, this is just something that we have to learn to deal with if we experience it — and I say that as guy who hit puberty precociously, as well. Am I different because I hit puberty early? Yeah, a little, but everyone’s “different” because of their personal experiences — and there are plenty of other things in life a lot worse than hitting puberty before one’s peers.

  24. This was an excellent article, thanks for writing this. Full of intersting reflections.

    This must have also been uncomfortable reading for tabula rasists. Reading about the effects and behaviours caused, by the powerful biological impulses of early puberty in a 9yr boy

  25. Arielle says:

    Wow…what an amazing story. I was glued to the screen, just waiting to find out what happened next. You should be proud of yourself for raising such a fine young man. What an impressive person he is, and what great parents you and your husband turned out to be!

  26. wow… what a story. i must applaud the author for being brave enough to write and share this. and it is well written too.

    however, i get a since that she is someone flippant about the whole affair. like “all’s well that ends well!” and i worry that this would send a terrible message to other readers.

    ultimately i think this story is about horribly bad parenting decisions compounded by an unfortunate collection of horrible therapists, but all this being mitigated by dumb luck (or divine intervention).

    Alex and his family were lucky that all his homeless “girlfriend” gave him was lice.

    i would also like to point out that there no excuse nor justification for allowing a child (of any age) total unfettered access to the internet. that is no different than dropping your kid off in Las Vegas with an AMEX card and saying “enjoy!”. actually it is worse. the internet concentrates all that is beautiful and deprave into a backlit rectangle just inches from your child’s face. even the wisdom and maturity that comes with being an adult doesn’t prepare one to handle all the extremes that a web browser can offer up. but to a child who already has enough troubles to deal with!?!

    i worry that other parents reading this story who also feel like their child is more computer savvy than they are will also feel powerless, and thus be just as negligent thru inaction. but it must be made clear that parents have options! options that have no fulcrum upon computer savviness!

    even if your child’s calling in life is to be a computer professional or even computer genius, internet access in his/her bedroom is not required! not even required in the home really, computer classes at a school could suffice. also never let your child have internet access in a private bedroom! just having the computer in a “public” part of the house will help keep things in check. and should something less than wholesome come up on the screen. the parent can immediately discuss with the child why such things are there, why such things are bad, how to understand what they just saw… yadda yadda. and lastly, don’t be lazy! educate yourself!! plenty of resources available to parents to help them keep their children safe online.

  27. Close, but Midna, the Twilight Princess, isn’t the princess you save. It’s Zelda.

  28. David May says:

    Thanks for this article. I experienced precocious puberty starting at age 10, and it was never addressed by parents or teachers except to address my behavior — which was seen as too childish for a boy that appeared to be a young teenager. This was back in the 1960s when access to porn of any kind, however mild by today’s standards, was diffiuclt for an adult to procure, but boys will always find a source whether it be discarded skin magazines or what we used to call Tiajuana Bibles. So the decision about internet porn was probably the right one in that trying to block it would have been futile.

    What disturbs me is he pediatric endocrinologist statements about the Power of Testosterone. This ties into the recent GMP article about demonizing men’s sexulaity. If a boy’s precocious puberty is presented as a demon waiting to escape, it will no doubt be perceived as such by the boy and family in question.

    To my dismay, while still having the emotions of a child, I was occasionally perceived as a sexual threat by young women, one of them a substitute teacher that saw fit to ban me from her classroom — and to tell some of the girls why, something they delighted in sharing with me in as scathing tones as possible. When I complained later to my regular teacher (this in 6th grade) she said only: “I know, David. I’ve spoken to the office.” I never knew what went down behind the scenes, but I suspect the woman was forbidden to return to our school as I never saw her again. The irony of all this is, of course, that I’m gay and she was the farthest thing from my mind as I was crushing on the science teacher, Mr. Pierce.

    And being smart might be an asset in this situation, though I wasn’t half so clever as your son. Being smart enough to search for answers and knowing what questions to ask, and having a favorite aunt that was an Occupational Therapist who took an active interest in our lives (i.e., an adult I could talk to), made a difficult transition that much easier.

  29. I went through puberty at nine. Got my period at nine. By 10 I looked like 15 and by 13 I looked like 18. I am now 24. This kind of thing is an extremely complicated and confusing thing for a child that age to go through. I acted in all sorts of ways toward men older than me and I literally had no idea at the time that I was doing it until I became old enough to realize in hindsight what had happened. At least his parents thought things through at the time. Mine did absolutely nothing about that fact that I was having these experiences so young. It was almost as if they thought me having my period at that age had no effect on me besides causing me physical pain and discomfort a few days per month. It was hell for me and it’s not something I’ve really forgiven them for.

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