..Jon Simonds..

I Love Being a Parent
The Basically Brooklyn Series

Regardless of your education, parenting was never a required course in any of the numerous colleges, I attended. Just for the record, I never saw it listed as an elective, either. Yes, there are numerous books on parenting, but the great majority of them deal with the early years. There is really nothing to prepare you for those post early years. Those post early years seem to begin at 11 and really get to rockin' at age 13.

My son is 11 and my daughter is 13. Up until I had children, my only brush with the law was the several years I spent as a member of the NYPD. Since my two kids have come along, it seems like the law is always brushing up on me. For example, at the tender age of two, my daughter was already nabbed for shoplifting. She snatched a palm sized beanie baby off a shelf, while her mother wasn't looking and hid it in a corner of the carriage, but for reasons beyond my knowledge, instead of arresting the culprit, they arrested her mother, in spite of the fact that she was eight months pregnant with her brother. I felt lucky, when it came time to post bail. I got some kind of two for one deal. Instead of having to post bail for two human beings, I was only charged for one.

I bring this up because my 11-year-old, Michael Dylan, came racing up the stairs of the house in such a fit of hysterics, I thought somebody beat the living daylights out of him. I jumped up from my desk and met him halfway through the house relieved to find there was no visible signs of a bar room brawl. His nose seemed intact, his lips weren't bloodied and his clothes weren't even ripped. He was, however, an emotional wreck and as a concerned parent, he was making me a wreck right along with him.

"What is it?" I asked.

"I'm being arrested! I'm going to juvie! I'm going to jaaaillllllll!"

I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Pffff! It's not the first time. Calm down and tell me what happened?"

"I went to my friends house," he begins, hitching and crying. "I went in through the garage. I grabbed a bottle of seltzer off the shelf. Just as I swung to knock on the door, the door opened. It was his grandfather. He went ballistic. He called the police! I'm going to jaaaillllll!"

"Let's go talk to the grandfather," I said, putting my arm around him. "I'm sure he didn't call the police."

We walked around the corner to the house. It must have been one of those really slow days at 9-1-1, because as we approached the house, the police pulled into the driveway. They were approached by the grandfather. The grandfather informed the police his garage was broken into and a bottle of seltzer was stolen. I turned to Dylan and asked if the garage was closed. He insisted it was open. We were approached by the law.

It took a little time before the grandfather agreed the garage was open, but the Police felt Dylan should have knocked on the front door. He shouldn't have taken the seltzer. Dylan turned around and put his hands behind his back. The officer didn't think that was necessary yet. I offered to make restitution for the seltzer but the grandfather wouldn't take it. The grandfather insisted he had the kid for trespassing and petty theft. He promised to press charges.

Dylan turned around and put his hands behind his back, again. I was proud to see he actually listened to me all those times I told him to respect the law, cooperate with the law. The Policeman is our friend. Granddad wanted time to think it over. He wanted to consult with his lawyer. So far, Dylan is hanging around the house. Some of it has to do with the fact he's a little worried about being arrested. All of it has to do with the fact that he is grounded until the end of the school year.

As if things aren't bad enough, my daughter – the shop lifter, approached me with an envelope, after all of this. My daughter is 13. She is one smart cookie. When opportunity knocks she is the first one at the door. The envelope came home from school with her on Friday, but she decided to hold off on turning it into me until Sunday. She was going to wait until Sunday evening, to be more precise but in lieu of her brothers near incarceration she decided the time was right to hit me up with her first ever detention notice. It was something called ISS. I had no idea what ISS was. She explained that it was In School Suspension.

"You have to sign this, so they know I showed it to you."

"What in the world did you do?" I asked.

"Dad! The reason is right there on the detention slip."

I looked at the detention slip. Right there, above the line that read reason, in clear English were the words, "undressed."

"You went streaking through school!" I yelled.

"Get a life, Dad. They're talking about my gym uniform."

"That's not what it says!"

I have failed as a parent.

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