When I was in second grade, you could get out of recess if you brought a note from a parent saying you were sick. I don't remember why I hated recess, but I did. I wanted to stay inside and color. One day I figured out that I could kinda-sorta forge my mom's signature. So, I decided I'd try my luck and attempt to get myself out of the horror that was getting some midday fresh air.
So, of course, because it worked once, I tried it again. And again. And again. Finally my teacher caught on to my "That note is just messy because my mom was in a hurry" story, and she gave my parents a call.
They made me apologize to my teacher. As in stand in front of her face-to-face and say, "I'm sorry for lying." And then, because we were Catholic at the time, they made me go to confession. (Hell, they were so mad that they probably would have made me go to confession even if we wouldn't have been Catholic.) I had to sit across from a priest and tell him that I had lied to my teacher AND my parents. And THEN, to really drive it home, I was made to actually follow through with my penance. I walked to the front of the mostly empty sanctuary, kneeled in a pew, and recited a million Hail Mary's. (That number is approximate).
What did I learn from that experience?
Fuck-Ups = Consequences.
Also, I did not forge any more signatures.
A friend posted a news story yesterday about some teenagers breaking into the former NFL player, Brian Holloway's, vacation home to have a party. By "some" I mean approximately 300, and by "party" I mean break windows, spray paint walls, and urinate on the floors. The teens, being the brilliant creatures they are, documented all of this on Twitter and Instagram.
Mr. Holloway, in turn, posted those pictures on his website.
Then, all the parents and kids involved in the incident wrote letters of apology along with money to help cover the $20,000+ in damages, and everyone lived happily ever after. The end.
I got that mixed up with what SHOULD have happened.
What actually happened is that he has now been threatened to be sued by some of the parents. Sued for putting pictures (that had already been posted for all of the internets to see) on his website, and thereby defaming their children.
He even invited the teens and parents to return to the property to help repair the damage. One showed up. ONE. I guess the other 299 had something more important going on that day.
I have no words.
On second thought, maybe I have a few words.
This generation is going to be in charge of shit one day in the not-so-distant future, you guys. Quite frankly, I'm terrified.
My teacher friends, my coach friends, and virtually everyone else I know that works with young people in some capacity have each at some point told me how, with increasing frequency, parents are refusing to make their child be held accountable for anything. Whether it be grades or behavior, the parents are first in line to protest that "It's not his fault!"
Not turning in assignments because they spent all night playing video games...that's their fault. Sitting the bench because they didn't show up or screwed around in practice...that's their fault.
And guess what. Vandalizing someone else's property because all their friends were doing it...that's their fucking fault.
My youngest is extremely strong-willed, and not always the most compliant. We had a family discussion a few nights ago regarding responsibility and expectations. He did not like what we had to say, and took exception to the consequences we laid out should they choose not to follow the rules. He voiced his disgruntled opinion. Our response was rated PG (of course) and lengthy, but in summation it went something like this..."Too fuckin' bad." And then he was sent to his room for being disrespectful.
No one gets this parenting gig 100% right. I screw things up on the regular. My kids, just like everyone else's, are going to make some monumentally stupid decisions along the way. Which is precisely why I don't think it's out of the realm of reasonable expectations that ALL kids learn this lesson:
Fuck-Ups = Consequences.
If we don't teach our kids to hold themselves accountable because we are always on the front lines saying, "It's not his fault!", they'll come to expect that defense no matter the situation.
Flunk out of college? Mom and Dad will get me back in.
Lose my job? Mom and Dad will find me another one.
Don't want to take care of my kids? Mom and Dad will take over.
And who's fault is that kind of mentality?
You guessed it.