Almost a Man

My youngest kid turned 17 today. He’s one year away from “legally” becoming a man. And I’m one year away from not having to “parent” anymore. Today, I was in full parent mode. On his birthday, his English teacher decided to call me to tell me that my perfect child has been sleeping in his class. Not just today, but numerous times a week since the beginning of the year. And although I appreciated the call, I was a little more than irritated that I didn’t get a call 2 months ago. I went to the open house. I met all the teachers. I gave them all the same schpeel… “I’m always available. If you have a problem with my kid, call me, text me, email me, send a carrier pigeon. I will nip it immediately.” So, why did this teacher wait 2 months to finally lose his shit and call me? Maybe it was the full moon. Maybe it was because half the class had their heads down today. I don’t know. But I do know that I put aside my momentary anger at the fact that I’m always the last to know and I readied myself to dig into my kid for being rude and disrespectful to a teacher. I’ve been parenting for 25 years. I’m not new to this. I’m also not one of those parents who thinks their child is perfect and that he can do no wrong. I’m the opposite of that parent. I know that kids will get away with whatever they are allowed to. I know that after the first time he was allowed to sleep in class a precedent was set. I know that this teacher was probably going by some sort of “I don’t know what his home life is like, maybe he doesn’t have a bed or maybe his mom is in an abusive relationship or maybe he is homeless” or whatever rationalization teachers make in order to let kids slide. My kid is none of the above. He lives in a loving home with a super comfortable bed and no matter what he has never been at risk of being homeless. If his teacher had called me 2 months ago, I would have assured him that my kid was just testing the waters and also maybe being a disrespectful little prick. So I had to parent today. I do know that from 16 to 18, I am still technically a parent, but I have tried to raise my kids to be self-sufficient and responsible for the most part. I’ve never drank at home. I will admit to coming home drunk occasionally, but I’ve never been one to keep alcohol in the house or to sit at home getting shitty drunk in front of the kids. I don’t do drugs. Even when I’m out slutting around, I’m OUT slutting around. I don’t have a revolving door in my house. Even though I write about it here, some things are better left out of your kids lives. I’m nice to everyone until my last button is pushed. And overall I try to be a decent human being. I say that to say I have tried to raise my kids in a way that leads by example. And to prepare them for life without me. I feel like by the time a kid turns 16, they should be equipped to handle life without mom. If I die tomorrow, I want to know that I’ve instilled enough goodness in them that they can function as a whole human in this world and that I didn’t skimp on the morals or ethics that I think matter. So I lead by example. And when I run into an example that I haven’t encountered, I use logic and conversation to explain why they shouldn’t do whatever. So today I had to let my kid know that it’s not OK to sleep in class. I don’t call in sick to work just because I’m tired and I don’t get to work and take a nap whenever the mood strikes me. Why? Because that’s not how the real world works. And that’s not how school works. At first, he tried to argue with me. But I stayed calm. And then he tried to reason with me. In the end, I basically gave him the speech he’s heard a thousand times before, “your behavior is a reflection of my parenting. If you go to school and act like you have no fucking brains or common sense or decency, people will assume you are being raised by someone with no fucking brains or common sense or decency.” And then I gave him a real world example about how it is still being rude and disrespectful to sleep through a lesson that his teacher put in hours of work planning. It’s no different than him standing up and saying “fuck you” to a teacher, which would definitely get him a fat lip and me an open DCS case. Needless to say, we came to the conclusion that he will apologize to the teacher tomorrow and he will stay awake from now on because he is to lead by example and not follow the crowd. He says he gets it. For his sake, I really hope he does. Because I’ve yet to take a day off work for any reason, so if I have to take the day off to go walk with him to every class and sit in the back while he shows me the way he is “supposed” to behave with adults, I will definitely do that. I’m hoping for both of our sakes he does the right thing because I’m pretty sure it would be just as torturous for me to spend the day in high school as it would be for him to have me there for a day.

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