Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hey, That's Mine! - Part 1

During my years as an Assistant Principal, in addition to running the day-to-day operation of the school, it was my job to encourage students to always be on their best behavior. Of course, being adolescents in this world, there were often issues that were brought to my office.

I suppose that I dealt with everything, including a broken pencil, missing homework, insubordination, fighting. theft, truancy, and sadly, the more nefarious acts of drug abuse and drug selling.

I had been working closely with a student named Bill. Bill always seemed depressed, withdrawn, always loitering with the wrong crowd, and seemingly always about to do something that he should not do.

As you might have guessed, Bill was always in trouble and he became a frequent visitor to my office. After I got to know him a little better, Bill shared with me that his mother had left the family several years ago and that his dad was mean. In short, he believed that nobody cared for him.

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts to keep Bill on the straight and narrow path, he would sometimes engage in behavior that would get him sent home. Every time that I called his dad, I was met with a verbal barrage of profanity and complaints about Bill. It was obvious to me that Bill’s dad was just as angry and depressed as Bill.

Over time, and after way too many phone calls home, I believed that I was making some headway with Bill’s dad. He began to soften a little bit and he began to share some of his struggles with me. He loved Bill, but he was still angry with his wife for leaving and he was always concerned about money.

Based upon his consistent behavior, I sensed that Bill’s dad had long ago turned to drugs or alcohol for solace. I believed that he had become more withdrawn from life and from Bill, thereby providing some of the roots for Bill’s feelings.

Despite many hours that I had spent with Bill and his father, one day I learned that Bill was in possession of marijuana. The soft part of me wanted to look the other way, thereby sparing Bill from a suspension and possible verbal abuse from his dad and I wanted to spare his dad from further bad news.

However, the responsible part of me took over and I launched an investigation. Sure enough, Bill had the goods and I had to haul him to the office. When I asked Bill why he would ever be in possession of marijuana, he told me that he was mad at his dad for ignoring him and this was his way of getting attention from his dad. He also shared his concern over the impending verbal abuse and possible physical abuse.

Primed to call the Police and Protective Services, I assured Bill that I would speak to his father and that everything would be O.K. I told Bill that if his dad made any threats, I would call the proper authorities.

(Please come back next Saturday for the conclusion).

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dad? The Marquis? (Pt.2)

(Continued from March 13, 2010) ...... Fast-forwarding five years from the year that I sold Marquis #1, our middle child was now 18-years-old. He was driving a 12-year-old Ford Taurus and he loved that car. He was always finding excuses to run errands for us, just so that he could drive “his” Taurus.

Well, the end of the line finally came for my son’s Taurus. So, we decided to give him our daughter’s 8-year-old Taurus and she would take over my Impala. I then went out and purchased a ….. YES, another Mercury Grand Marquis!!

When I arrived home with Mercury Grand Marquis #2, all three kids expressed disgust, disdain, and mortification for the car. They simply could not believe that I had actually purchased a second Marquis …… or at least that’s what they said.

To add a little humor and to live up to my reputation as a great teaser, I told my 18-year-old that he would be driving the Marquis and that I would take the Taurus. Needless to say, he expressed that he could not possibly drive the Marquis; his friends would make fun of him; and he would be cast aside by all acquaintances. He begged me to let him keep the Taurus. I reiterated that the Marquis was his to drive. He left the room in total disgust wondering aloud how he would ever be able to live this down with his buddies.

The next day, he came downstairs and asked me for the keys for the Marquis, as he needed to get to the store. I told him that I had been kidding and that I would be driving the Marquis. He would keep the Taurus.

I expected jubilation, happiness, and maybe even a hug. But, what did I get instead? My 18-year-old son told me that he WANTED the Marquis, because, after he thought it over, he realized that it really is a cool car! I reiterated that I had been kidding. He then reiterated that he was serious and that he truly wanted the Marquis.

I asked why he wanted the Marquis, since he had called it a GRANDPA CAR since age 11, if not before. He said that, since I had driven Marquis #1 for a long time, it must have been a great car and that the moniker of GRANDPA CAR certainly did not fit me. In essence, he said that he wanted to drive the car that his dad believed to be cool! He was willing to set his friends straight, as well! Ah yes, maturity was prevailing!

YES! Even though he viewed it as a GRANDPA CAR, he still wanted to drive it, as he realized that his dad believed that it was a good car.

Sometimes, even when you think that you have failed to convince your kids of something, you suddenly learn that you had convinced them long ago and that their resistance to your idea was simply to go with the crowd.

Yes, it’s nice to know that DAD’S opinion had won out over the friends’ opinions and impending jeers!

How about you? Have your kids refused to believe that you were correct on an issue, only to come back later and admit that you were right? If so, let me know!

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dad? The Marquis? (Pt.1)

Ah, there is something special about a Mercury Grand Marquis for me! I don’t know if it’s the feel, the easy access to controls, the comfortable ride, or the fact that my grandfather had a similar car when I was a little tyke. However, without question, the Mercury Grand Marquis is my favorite car to drive!

Even though I’ve had the pleasure to drive other terrific cars, such as a Ford Mustang (2), Honda Civic, Ford Aerostar, Ford Windstar, Chevy Venture, Ford Grand Torino, Mercury Villager, and a Chevy Impala, it always comes back to the Mercury Grand Marquis for me!

As for my kids’ impression of a Mercury Grand Marquis? The called it a GRANDPA CAR!! How could they denigrate my favorite car?

Back when our kids were 8, 11, and 14, I came home with the first Grand Marquis. My kids were appalled. They could not believe that their dad had suddenly become a driver of a GRANDPA CAR! As this issue had never been discussed in our home, I was surprised at their reaction. I just knew that a ride in dad’s new Marquis would convince them for life.

So, we piled in, I pointed out all of the advantages, including the extra room, the back seat emptying into the trunk, the cup holders, the great sound system, the comfort, etc. However, it was to no avail, as my kids were not convinced. In fact, they were even more convinced that their dad had instantly become an old guy!

While our daughter, age 14, eventually accepted the fact that dad really liked the car, our sons, ages 8 and 11, actually verbally requested that I bring another car when I needed to pick them up from an event. They actually feared that their friends would make fun of me (and them!) for driving a GRANDPA CAR!

Well, to say the least, I thoroughly enjoyed driving that car for all of the aforementioned reasons. Eventually, however, the miles began to rack up and I decided to sell it for a new Impala. As I was driving away with the Marquis for the final time, my kids must have sensed something, or perhaps they were feeling some guilt, but they offered to take some pictures with me in the car. They also took turns getting in the car for the final time to have some pictures taken of them!

For the next few years I drove that Impala every single day to work, church, errands, etc. It also became the main car by which I escorted my kids to and from events. They seemed to love that car and they agreed that the car more closely fit my personality and image (oh my children, how could you not understand the connection between Marquis and Me?!?!?).

(Come back next Saturday for the conclusion and learn how dad's opinions won out over the opinions of friends!).

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, March 6, 2010

No Cherries For You!

It is great when kids are raised in a loving home! They have a mom and dad who love them; their needs are taken care of; they have no concerns about the genesis of their next meal; they know that mom and dad will take care of them; and they know that mom and dad will let them do things that other kids could not do in their home.

However, the age of innocence always comes to an end, as the realization sets in that not everybody loves them the way that mom and dad do! Yes, sooner or later, all children find themselves in a situation that, if mom and dad were present, all would be taken care of for them. However, without mom and sad, they get the felling that their world is ending, which of course, can serve to elevate their views of mom and dad!!

At any rate, when our kids were 3, 6, and 9, they were playing in the backyard together. My wife and I were in the kitchen watching them through a window, admiring their ability to get along like three loving siblings. At some point we left the kitchen for a few minutes, but returned a little later.

Behind our home was a large field of manicured grass that belonged to an upper-level condo association. The only thing that separated our property from theirs was a group of cherry trees. Between the trees and condos was about 200 yards of grass. Nobody from the condo association ever came near the cherry trees. It was a gorgeous view with seemingly complete privacy.

As a neighborhood bonus, our next door neighbor often gave our kids some cherries and sometimes he even took them back there to pick some cherries for themselves.

The moment that I returned to the kitchen and looked through the window, I saw all three of our kids walking quickly along the line of cherry trees, single file toward our house, and none looking very happy. They immediately came in the house with obvious looks of insecurity and concern. What could have possibly happened?

Our oldest child explained that they had decided to pick some cherries, just like they had on many occasions with our neighbor. Apparently, some “scary older lady” came out of her condo from 200 yards away and yelled at our children to get away from the cherry trees. All alone without the security of their parents, our kids quickly scrammed back to the safe zone of home!

Yes, our kids, facing adversity without their parents to protect them, quickly retreated to our home to find us! They could not believe that they had been summarily dismissed from the cherry trees; they could not believe that an adult had been so rude and “scary” to them; and they could not believe that they had faced different treatment than our neighbor had received.

It served as a great lesson on all levels, as it reminded them that the trees were not theirs for the picking, even if our neighbor DID pick cherries from the trees; it reminded them to NEVER wander away from mom and dad without letting us know of their anticipated destination; and it served to remind them that not everybody is going to love them like mom and dad!

We quickly made some hot dogs, added some French Fries and Coke, and celebrated the fact that our kids were safe; they were with people who loved them; and we discussed that we could go to the store later to get some cherries!

How about you? Have your kids ever learned life lessons the hard, but memorable, way? If so, let me know!

Paul W. Reeves