Tuesday, May 18, 2010

We'll Be Fighting in the Streets

A seventh grader at the older kids' middle school came to visit the guidance counselor a couple of weeks ago. She brought her newborn baby with her.

Last week, an 18-year-old woman, a senior in high school, drove a car filled with four of her co-conspirators on the streets of suburbia. She was chasing after a minivan containing two people, one of whom was apparently her boyfriend. Or "ex-boyfriend," I should say. The sunroof of her car was open and a boy, hiding his face and mouth with two strategically placed bandanas, was standing up through it, firing a rifle at the minivan. At four o'clock in the afternoon. Down neighborhood streets. On a sunny day with kids out and about.

*          *          *

Some of those children's parents, surely, must be more like me than not. A 13-year-old girl knocked up. A handful of 15-year-olds and 17-year-olds and an 18-year-old trying to commit murder. Could any of those parents anticipated these kinds of things would happen to their kids? Maybe. But maybe some of them did everything "right," whatever the hell that is anymore. And a foolish act, in the heat of the moment, ruins their kids' lives, the dreams they had, the people they could have been.

If I've come to any realization in the past couple of weeks, it's that it's time to up the ante in what specifically Pete and I need to pound into our kids' heads. I mean, seriously, I thought I'd have to discourage TPing people's homes. I never imagined I'd have to discourage shooting up the streets.


Fairly Odd Mother said...


We have neighbors who, when I was complaining about one of my kids throwing another tantrum or not sleeping through the night, said "Little kids, little problems". He had older kids and I now understand that he was dealing with BIG problems----the kind of problems that keep parents up all night wondering "why?" They have always struck as a "nice family" but i guess that just isn't always enough.

Michele R said...

I was going to say something also about parents of younger kids--like in the younger days you are worn out with sleepless nights and using crayons on the walls. Middle school is when the hard parenting starts. o.k., maybe 5th grade. It is hard, hard work. I do have to think that some different parenting may have altered the behavior of those you described.

Patois42 said...

I think that it is surely true that some of the parents suck. (There, I said it.) But I'm not sure I think all of them do. Or maybe that's what I fear: that it's not "just" a product of bad parenting.

mayberry said...

This is so scary. All of it. Especially after the conversation I had last night with friends who want to protect their kids' innocence. I worry that they are on the wrong side of the line between "sheltered" and "safely aware."

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

It's terrifying. There are nights I lay awake, staring at the ceiling, wondering if my children will be on a future episode of "Intervention" or "Snapped."

All we can do is do our best, instill in them good values, and cross our fingers.

Tara R. said...

I think one of the smartest things we did as parents, was to meet the parents of our kids' friends. Still you never know what is running through the mind of some of these kids.

Patois42 said...

I guess my own missteps of youth lead me to believe that it's sometimes just a question of where you happen to be on any given day. It's time to have that GPS microchip inserted in my kids.

tiff said...

it scares the shit out of me as a parent...i think we are great parents, we communicate, we help guide, we allow room for choices and mistakes...BUT..BUT..BUT...what if. what if. what if. all that goes to the wayside & they make a choice we would never ever want for them in a million lifetimes...and that is what scares me.

is good parenting enough? Yikes..

this post disturbs me in so many ways...and it is what keeps me up late at night...and our guys are only 10 years old...oh boy!


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