As I whooshed past the table I happened to glance down at the game board and inquired what happened to the Monopoly game pieces. Instead of the Navy paraphernalia I noted a Chinese warrior, a tea kettle and other random objects to represent my three sons and hubs. Nonplussed, the eldest replied they were missing, and the hubs quickly interjected that they were just going with the flow.
Not one to interrupt a game in-session I grabbed the smartphone to snap the shot. The hubs, apparently, was in jail…the Chinese warrior. This object was brought home from overseas when he had been on deployment several years back. The plane he used to fly was represented to its left.
My mind brought me back to this moment, on Tuesday, as I sat in a district lecture series by four of our high school campus officers about drugs, sexting and cyberbullying. I quietly sat next to my girlfriend absorbing all the information as I clutched my handouts. A short video segment showed a high school teen coming off K2 Spice…a POTpourri tea that has become prevalent in this age group. This herbal mix of tea is “legally” sold, though not for consumption, and has the mind-altering effects of cannabis (aka marijuana).
As I watched the video I said a silent prayer. Please God, may this never be any of my sons. The teen went from euphoria to paranoia in a matter of seconds and he was filmed in the backseat of a police car as they asked him his name. The kid landed in jail. The parents were silent around me; intently listening and probably as horrified as I was. I had attended this workshop to learn from the four high school officers what they were seeing in our schools. The landscape has changed since my teenaged years. The handouts from the workshop still sit untouched on my dining room table. This, I am not ready for.
The week plowed on; those thoughts pushed to the back of my mind. I busied myself with other things and my girlfriend snapped a shot as I stood upon our school conference table taking pictures of student drawings submitted for a t-shirt design. Life has a way of distracting and flying by.
And today as the doorbell chimed we discovered uncle P upon our door stoop. It had been three years since seeing him and though his appearance was unchanged; the boys who stood next to him had. Upon his arrival I immediately took this shot to text to the bff; but the middle son beat me to it. Because the bff and I are only children, our kids claim the bff and her hubs as their aunt and uncle, and vice versa. He had flown 2,000 miles to attend a conference. We love our dear uncle P and could not help inquiring about his work, since he works for the big GMO giant. Uncle P thinks our canine looks like a lion. I reminded him that he is not a feline.
He brought out the rubberband bracelets created by my Godchild. She made them for us.
And soon the discussion turned to our children. We traversed the parenting learning curve together as we compared and contrasted. I shared the information from the Tuesday lecture as we pondered the long road ahead. The pitfalls of adolescence, driving school and increasing independence. Our time with our sons is short. The trail appears long and far but it is all about perspective. In reality, it is a short distance but very steep.
To traverse this trail the consensus; amongst the campus police officers, was the same. Walk this road with your child. Set clear curfews and rules; particularly with phones and social media. You are the parent. Have conversations with your child. Let the kids own up to their consequences. It is easy and natural to want to shelter and shield your children. Don’t hold their hands. There are no get out of jail free cards in this game. The professionals present all agreed this was a disservice. Instead, talk, talk, talk and walk, walk, walk. Maybe shadow them.
You have to let the dice roll. The papers still sit on my dining room table so I can’t totally ignore them. Time to put my money where my mouth is.