MUNDELEIN, IL—Lawrence and Marcia Sprouse expressed concern Monday that their 15-year-old son Adam, after years of being a social outcast, is in danger of falling in with the popular crowd at Mundelein High School.
"All the signs point to him getting involved with the popular kids," Marcia said. "The last few Saturday nights, instead of staying home and watching a movie, he's been out at parties. He's also been hanging around this boy who's on the school baseball team. Parties, hanging out with jocks—what's become of my baby boy?"
Primary among the Sprouses' worries is the prospect of Adam being exposed to drugs and alcohol.
"I'm not naïve about what goes on with these kids who aren't in the AP classes," Marcia said. "They stay up late, laughing and drinking beer and socializing without any parental supervision. Sometimes, they even experiment with pot. I just hope this socializing phase passes, and that Adam will soon be back to hanging out in the basement playing Risk with his old friends."
For years, the Sprouses did not worry about Adam, secure in the knowledge that he would reach adulthood without facing the problems and pressures faced by so many of his more popular, attractive, socially skilled classmates.
"Other parents always worry about their kids experimenting with drugs and sex," Lawrence said. "Marcia and I never did. But now, there are all sorts of new questions. What happens when Adam is offered a joint? Or he meets a girl who's ready to go beyond first base? Or a group of kids invite him to drive to Chicago and stay overnight in a hotel?"
Throughout high school, Adam had been singularly focused on getting into MIT to get a math degree before landing a job at Fermilab. His college and career plans, however, are now up in the air.
"I was asking Adam about the future, and he told me he might not want to get a Ph.D in calculus anymore," Lawrence said. "I asked him why and he said he was thinking about studying psychology or maybe even political science instead. Then he muttered something about the University of Michigan seeming like 'a fun place to go to school.' I just know it's the influence of those cool kids he's been slumming around with."
The Sprouses' sense of alarm grew when Adam, who almost exclusively wore T-shirts and slacks, began taking a greater interest in his appearance.
"The last time we went shopping, he asked for designer jeans," Marcia said. "When I got upset, he said all the kids at school wore designer jeans and that it wasn't a big deal. Well, peer pressure may not be a big deal to him, but it is to me. He won't even let me cut his hair because I 'do it dorky.' The next thing you know, he's going to be cutting out of those advanced-calculus classes he's been taking at the community college and joining a fraternity."
"It seems like only yesterday, our little Adam would stay in his room all day reading comic books and playing with his computer," Marcia continued. "Now, he'll try almost anything. Where did we go wrong?"