My middle-schooler is afraid to go to the bathroom at school because the kids are smoking e-cigs there. Some of the kids are getting caught and suspended. — but if you’re innocent, but just happen to be in the bathroom at the same time as the smokers — you have a lot of explaining to do. Safer to stay out of the bathroom.
In the high school — I think the kids smoke there all the time, and everyone just looks the other way. The biggest fear for my high schooler is not the smokers, but the French teacher. If he can make it through the second period, he says, the rest of the day is a piece of cake.
There was the homecoming “party” where the seniors were escorted off to a private getaway, chaperoned, by parents, to give the kids a safe place to “drink.” Cell phones were taken so that there would be no trail. “Protection,” was the word the parents used. “They’re going to do it anyway. Might as well make sure they’re safe.”
All I could think about was the poor kid who didn’t want to drink but felt pressured by his peers — and now the added pressure of the parents.
After “hostage training” at school my son asked me what I would do if faced with a shooter — he gave me three choices, and I had no idea which one was right. Then, he said, none of the above – the answer is “it depends” on the situation.
The world today is one of the blurred lines between what is right and wrong – uncertainty about what to do when and if something horrific happens. There is no cut and dried safe answer, or safe place.
I tell my college son what’s happening at school now — and he sounds just as shocked as a grandpa – marveling at how different things are in just a short period of time.
I was relieved to hear the middle school principal say at the Washington DC trip meeting, “If I can’t trust your child in the bathroom at school, I’m not taking them across state lines.” Finally, a voice of reason.
A watched a kid at our house the other day, pick up his phone and explain to his mom that he was leaving. The kid tried to hide the conversation, but I asked the group, “Who has a good mom?” They all said, “I do.” And I looked at the kid who was sheepishly trying to hide his phone conversation — and I said, “Was that your mom?” And he said, “Yes.” And I said, “you’re lucky to have a mom who cares that much.” And he complained that he wished she would trust him just a little more — and I said, “when you’ve earned it, she will. But right now, there’s just too many unknowns — and it’s not you she is worried about. It’s everything and everyone else.”
That afternoon, my son even called me to let me know he was switching locations.
I don’t know too many parents of my little guys — too busy to make friendships back when they were in preschool. So, I’m seeking friendships with the parents of their friends now — the good ones who understand the difference between discipline and being a doormat. I am finding a few — and it’s like stepping into an oasis to find one.
Today, more than ever, in a world of such uncertainty, our kids need boundaries — big arms of protection that show them what’s safe and what isn’t. And where they can find genuine love.