Stacey is pretty concerned about Robert. He's been acting really out of it for a long time now, and he doesn't seem to be anywhere near snapping out of his mood. He's missing answers in class, he's lost interest in everything, and he just isn't himself. After running into Robert's younger sister at the mall, Stacey decides to give him a call. When she gets the Brewster's answering machine, she's relieved. Even though Stacey is concerned about Robert, she doesn't really want to talk to him. They play phone tag all weekend and then talk face to face at school the following Monday. Stacey asks Robert what's been going on with him, and since class is almost ready to start, they decide to walk home together and talk. Robert tells Stacey more or less the same thing he told her back in February, when she first tried to talk to him about his mood. His friends are boring jerks, nothing's fun, everything's pointless, the same old stuff. There is one thing Robert likes to do, though: talk to Stacey. She's worried that he wants to get back together with her, and the whole school thinks they already ARE back together. That turns out not to be the case; Robert just wants to be friends.
Later that week, Stacey decides to surprise Robert by visiting him at baseball practice. When she gets there, she's the one who gets the surprise: Logan tells her that Robert quit the team three days earlier. She really gets on his case about it the next time she sees him, and she stomps off mad. She tries to talk to some of his old friends to see if she can get any insight as to what's caused the change in Robert, but she doesn't really get anywhere. Everyone else is just as frustrated with him as Stacey is. The next day, Robert calls Stacey to apologize for his behavior. He also lets her know that he's been grounded because of his grades. He's failing almost everything, and he doesn't see the point in trying to get good grades. Stacey offers to help him out by tutoring him every day, which doesn't make her BSC friends happy. They don't think it's a good idea for her to be Robert's only support person, and they don't think it's healthy for her to be spending all of her time trying to take care of him. Stacey is determined to help Robert engage in life again, so she invites him to the mall with the rest of the BSC. The trip is a big fat failure; Robert doesn't say a word the entire time. Afterwards, Stacey forces him to think of one activity that he could stand to be involved in, and he picks baseball....if the coach lets him back on the team. He does, but Robert screws things up right away by not showing up for practice. Stacey gets worried when Robert doesn't call her to talk about it. She's so worried, in fact, that she calls a radio show for advice. She uses different names, and tells the host what's been going on with Robert. The host advises her to encourage Robert to get some help from an adult; the problem is too big for Stacey herself to handle. As soon as she hangs up, the phone rings. At first, Stacey is afraid that Robert heard her, and he's calling to chew her out. Instead, it's Claudia; Claud heard her on the radio, and she wanted to tell Stacey that she agrees with the advice that the host gave.
Stacey makes up her mind to talk to Robert, but she's dreading the conversation. He's not in school that day; according to his homeroom teacher, he's at home, sick. Robert shows up at Stacey's house later that day, and he's totally fine. Stacey tells him that he needs helpand that he should talk to someone that's not her to get it. He blows up at her, but Stacey actually feels relief. She did what she needed to do; the rest is up to Robert. That night at dinner, Mrs. McGill can see that something's wrong with Stacey. Stacey tells her what's been happening in the Robert situation, and Mrs. McGill is all set to call Robert's parents. Stacey convinces her not to; she doesn't want to make Robert any angrier than he already is. Late that night, jsut as Stacey is going to sleep, someone starts throwing pebbles at her window. It's Robert, and he's in bad shape. Stacey brings him into the house so he can call his baseball coach...the one adult he feels comfortable talking to. Robert makes an appointment to see the coach the next day, and they have a long talk. He still isn't 100%, but just talking to an adult makes him feel better. He even agrees to go to an upcoming dance with Stacey, just as friends.
In other news, all of Stoneybrook is excited about Strawberry Fields Forever, a pick-your-own berries place that's just opened up outside of Stoneybrook. Everyone goes a bit oveboard, though, and lots of families end up with more strawberries than they know what to do with. Kristy (of course) gets the brilliant idea of holding a strawberry festival, which raises enough money for the club to take their sitting charges to a new water park.
Thoughts and Things
- Even though the series gets a thumbs up for dealing with depression, it gets a thumbs down from me for the way it was dealt with. Robert had been depressed for months, and there was no clear trigger that may have set him off. The chances of him getting better just by talking to his baseball coach would have been pretty slim in real life. I would at least liked to have seen him go to a doctor to rule out medical issues. Depression can be a complicated problem, and solutions just aren't always as simple as it may seem from reading this book.
- I totally want strawberries now!
- This may have been one of the first instances in the series when the Internet was used, when the sitters went online to get ideas for their strawberry festival. They actually found a strawberry chat room....
- Normally, it's stupid when the sitters gets irritated with each other for spending so much time with someone who's not in the club; this time, they were spot on.