Teenage Wasteland by Anne Tyler is an enlightening tale about the challenges of a parent and their child. This story addresses the lack of communication, lack of academic progress, "expert" opinion versus common sense, teenage runaways, and or lack of parental control; but what I want to focus is that in life sometimes things are what they are and we need to realize them and accept them after giving our all trying to change them with no success. There is a saying in my Puerto Rican culture that says "palo que nace doblao nadie lo endereza" witch means, "tree that is born twisted nobody will straighten it".
Donny is known as a problem child, his parents, the teachers, the principal and the tutor cannot figure out what his dilemma is. "A psychologist did testing and said Donny had no serious emotional problems that he was merely going through a difficult period in his life"(288).
Daisy and her husband, Matt, tried what they could. "They wouldn't let him watch TV on school nights. They wouldn't let him talk on the phone till he's finished his homework"(287). But he would lie his way out of doing any homework. They absolutely had problems in what to believe coming from Donny. After a meeting with the principal of his private high school for been disruptive and not responsive in class; at the principal's suggestion they decided to check his assignments everyday. "This wears down on Daisy and she becomes less involved in her other daughter's life, and short towards her husband"(287). His grades improve slightly but at a higher cost for the entire family. With so much sacrifice implemented Donny still got him self in trouble with new behavior problems, including smoking and possibly drinking. Now both parents where summon to attend a meeting with Mr. Lanham the principal to listen to the problems, in which they felt like failures; a feeling maybe not deserving. After agreeing to summit Donny to a psychologist for testing; the psychologist recommended for Donny to attend a tutor called Calvin Beadle which had considerable psychological training.
After the upfront hesitation to attend the stupid fairy tutor as address by Donny, he accepted to work with him three nights a week. Cal grows in Donny and it showed some improvement in his attitude in school but not his grades. At home was business as usual with the low opinion of his parents and the determination not to make peace with his mother. The cost of Cal's services created a wave of panic(289), but Daisy accepted it in hopes for a total change in Donny. Cal started to manipulate aspects of Donny's life. "The tutor had set down so many rules! They were not allowed any questions at all about any aspect of school, nor were they to speak with his teachers"(290). Daisy accepted the sacrifice even if it contributed to the decimation of Daisy and Donny's relationship. With all hopes place in Cal the unavoidable had to happen, a call from the principal to informed Daisy that Donny has been expelled because of the beer and cigarettes found in his locker.
Never willing to take responsibility for his action, meant no permanent improvement in his grade or behavior. Daisy and Matt decided to enter Donny in a public school and stopped the tutoring sessions. Donny detested the decisions resentfully. In his new environment he earned average grades, a great improvement to the failing grades he had before, but did not draw any friends. During his final exams Donny ran away and never came back.
Now with a broken family and so much blame go around Daisy tries to figure out what went wrong. Society tends to find blame when a problem child never improves socially, academically or behaviorally. We never question when our current artist don't match the talents of Van Gogh, Leonardo Da Vinci, or Michelangelo; we accept them as artist and we don't judge them as having a problem. We never question when our current pianist don't match the talents of Ludwig Van Beethoven, or Leonard Bernstein; we accept them as pianist and we don't judge them as having a problem. If Daisy would have accepted her son Donny as the twisted tree, and focus on nurturing the relationship of mother and son while achieving a healthy appreciation of each other would probably would avoided the disappearance of Donny.