Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Et Tu. . . ?

A week ago Sunday, Molly got up early, as she always does on Sundays, to help 5M do the paper route, and the message light on the answering machine was flashing. Strange. She checked the messages, and they were all from the police, letting us know that they had 4M in the overnight lockup. What? Were they talking about the right kid?. Anyway, I got up and went downtown to spring yet another of my kids from jail. . .

It seems that 4M was out with his buddies for a little after-hours frivolity, and got caught waiting for a ride, so he 'borrowed' his sister's (2F's) car. Which would have been damned inconsiderate, taken by itself. But he's only 15 and DOESN'T HAVE A DRIVER'S LICENSE! Or even a learner's permit! Even that wouldn't have amounted to much until the police caught him going 52 in a 35mph zone. So all of a sudden - cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching - speeding, driving without a license, and breaking curfew (in OurTown, kids under 16 are supposed to be off the streets after midnight). So the officer took 4M downtown (and very helpfully left the the car in a nearby parking lot for us to retrieve at our convenience).

This is our 'GOOD' kid - The All-American Boy.

Well, now he's got a $115 speeding ticket to pay, and he gets to appear before a magistrate to find out when he'll even be eligible to get a driver's license, and to what extent his freedom will be curtailed. Oh, boy.

I was very good; I didn't lose my temper, didn't even raise my voice (much). I just told him, as calmly and clearly as I could, how disappointed I was, how this had damaged my trust for him, that it would take a while for him to rebuild my trust, and that he wouldn't be getting the freedom and priviliges that he would have if I still trusted him.

AND HE GETS MAD AT ME! Starts telling me that now I'm four-for-four with my oldest kids getting picked up by the police, and that can't be a coincidence - obviously we're failing miserably at our parental duties. I just sat there with my mouth open.

So Sunday afternoon, he headed up to his room, saying he was tired and wanted to take a nap. A while later, I was upstairs in one of the other kids' rooms; I stuck my head in to check on 4M, and he was gone! He'd called one of his buddies, then snuck out the back door to go to another buddy's graduation party. We finally tracked him down, and went to get him. When I asked him what he was thinking, he said, "Well, you're just gonna take everything away from me, so I might as well just be rebellious and do whatever I want."

What I really want to know is, what alien keeps sneaking into my kids' rooms at night and sucking out all their brains?

Thing is, 4M is really a pretty good kid; I think he'll actually learn the lesson he's being given, without the Universe giving him too much of a beating first. But he's been running way too wild lately (much wilder than we thought he was, you can be sure), and needs to be reined in. I was talking with his football coach a couple days ago, and the coach said that he's been "pretty full of himself, pretty cocky lately". Sounds like the coach and I are seeing the same stuff.

So, it's a shock to us, for sure, but it's not the end of the world. You know, experience in dealing with the police is one of those things you never really hope to gain in the course of your life, but. . . you do what you've got to do. 2F actually got 'scared straight' by her brush (years ago) with the law, and I'm hopeful that 4M will do likewise. Really, he's got too much going for him to flush it over some late-night rowdiness, and I think he understands that.

Well, I've certainly been on kind of a downer around here lately. Truthfully, things aren't as awful as all that, but it has been an intense couple weeks. So I need to post something lighter soon, or you all will start to wonder about me, too. . .


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