Taking one for the team


This my son on his “genetically engineered flying pony” with his Benny the Bull mask. Weirdo.

I was snuggled up with a good book and the dog when he demanded the moment be captured for all eternity, so I got up and took a pic. Total weirdo, right? But I love him. He knows it. He knows that I always appreciate and embrace his goofenschmirtz.  This was the night BEFORE his need for attention got out of hand. He’s 12. I never know what’s gonna be on the agenda with this kid. Never have. Last night I heard him singing a medley in the shower that included The Wiggles, Jay Z and bizarre noises interspersed with giggles. He declared the best part of his night to be when he put on warm boxers, fresh out of the dryer giving him “warm nuts.”

Total. Weirdo.

And since he’s grounded for an entire week from EVERY privilege known to a Knepper kid, I will basically be immersed in weirdness for the next 6 days. I’m not complaining, I’m just sayin……..

He’s grounded because his blockheaded 12 year old logic convinced him it would be hilarious to wear the hat (pictured above) to school yesterday. BLOCKHEAD. This kid is in the double accelerated math program, doing the kind of math that I was ditching school to avoid during my sophomore year in high school, yet he failed to generalize the instruction from one teacher about NOT wearing the stupid hat in HER class to not wearing the stupid hat in ANY class. I realize being a math smarty pants doesn’t mean he has common sense, but usually he has enough to get him through the school day detention free. Hell, he gets through life trouble free for the most part. Not yesterday.

So when I saw the school telephone number on the caller ID, I assumed that it was the usual call from the nurse at my daughter’s school asking me to bring a change of clothes for her (that’s another story). You know what they say about assuming stuff, right? Well, I felt like an ass when my kid’s teacher told me that despite being told to put the hat in his locker, he hauled it out again AND had the audacity to claim that his parents told him he could wear the thing to school. What the NO way in HELL, NO we didn’t tell him that!

I felt sorry for the teacher, Mr. X., who called to deliver the swell news about my kid’s idiotical and disrespectful attention seeking behavior in school and was going to suffer the consequences. I could tell by his voice that the poor fella was a bit squirmy and nervous at first and I’m quite sure that it’s because so many parents don’t take kindly to hearing negative things about their kid. The garbage those educators have to tolerate from the kids is bad enough, but when the parents are jackwagons it must be torture. It would seem more logical that a telemarketer instructed to call random numbers at dinnertime would be at the receiving end of totally  pissed off responses and rejection of reality, but unfortunately for teachers, they get more than their fair share of rude and angry rants on the other end of the line. He didn’t get that with me. Nope.

My kid would have to serve detention, would that be ok (squirm)? OF COURSE IT WOULD! I heard an audible sigh and noticed an immediate change in the tone of his voice. Ahhh… relaxed. I wasn’t going to go ape-shit on him. Mr. X had to work it out with his coaching schedule so what would work best for us (again the squirm. anticipating a possible negative response)? I told him that I’d be more than pleased to inconvenience MY kid for any length of time at HIS convenience. BOOM! I felt the tension between us fade out completely as he laughed a little, but no so much that it could have been interpreted as him finding any pleasure in our particular interaction. He didn’t enjoy making the call and I didn’t enjoy receiving it, but as parents and teachers, we are a team working toward the same goal. If we don’t support each other, these blockheaded, hormonally hijacked kids are at high risk for carving out a bleak future for themselves in a world where the rules DO apply to them. Teachers can’t do their jobs without us and we can’t do ours without them. Nope. We just can’t.

I apologized and assured him that my kid would also have consequences at home because disrespecting authority is unacceptable behavior AND that attempting to split up the teacher/parent team was manipulative and sneaky. He needs to KNOW and remember that the split tactic is NEVER going to be a smart defense strategy when it comes to his blockheaded, yet typical “trying to get attention and find out who I am” behavior.

If I take out the specifics of this particular incident of doofus-ness and put his behavior in the general category of “what kids will do for a laugh,” his behavior isn’t so unordinary. He’s just trying to figure out how much of HIM is acceptable to all the other kids whose acknowledgement and approval are now much more important to him that that of the teachers OR his parents. Fine, he can be “normal” as long as he’s not being an asshole. And although he wasn’t aiming for asshole, if he were to choose to continue on with the kind of behavior he used yesterday, he’d be on the fast track to championing the title in no time if I – I mean WE – let him get away with this kind of nonsense. So we won’t. N..O… NO!

Another big, fat, honking NO he had to wrap his brain around yesterday is that being grounded – FROM EVERYDAMNTHING- does not mean that I become his entertainment. After a quick game of this:

He started writing down lists of ingredients of recipes he planned to make with me, games we could play and followed me around like a barking Chihuahua, spouting facts about amphibians and the length of sperm whale teeth. This went on for an hour until I told him that he would not be following me around talking AT me for a week non-stop and that we would NOT be spending all of his grounded hours playing Paula Deen and son in the kitchen. Hell to the NO!

He didn’t realize that being grounded means that HIS life will be amok with un-funness, not mine. Sure I’ll cook a few things with him, and play some games, but not more than normal just because HE is bored. I still have my own stuff to do around here and lots of it. Amazingly enough, he thought that his week of grounding was going to amount to a plethora of togetherness time with ME, “like the old times,” he giggled while hugging my arm. Umm…..NO.

Some say that by grounding him, I am in fact punishing myself. It’s true. To some extent, his misery will affect me, but not as much as it would in 10 years when NOT doing anything would result in having to deal with a friendless, jobless, inconsiderate dirt-bag who doesn’t know how to treat others respectfully and take responsibility for his actions. Right now I’m merely taking one for the team. I say YES to the team.

In the meantime, as in this week, I’ve already learned the difference between a frog and a toad AND that a sperm whale has 10 inch teeth. As long as he doesn’t start talking about his sperm, I think we’ll both survive.


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  • Yes! This is excellent. Without any intention of sounding condescending, your writing is getting better. It's always been great, but it's getting even more great.

    Mine are about half that age now, and I'm looking forward to the middle-school years. I love this:

    "To some extent, his misery will affect me, but not as much as it would in 10 years when NOT doing anything would result in having to deal with a friendless, jobless, inconsiderate dirt-bag who doesn’t know how to treat others respectfully and take responsibility for his actions."

    Great post, Nikki.

  • In reply to fromthebungalow:

    thanks my beautiful, bald new friend.

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    Oh Amen....your son and my son must be the same child in two different bodies...weirdo just about sums it up...

  • A few months back my TEN yr old son forgot to put his brain in his head one day and decided to get snarky with a third grade teacher at his school, he was surprised when "I took her side". He thought he had every right to give the teacher lip because, and I quote, "she pissed me off, she gave me shit earlier today". I turned on the little shithead and said "EXCUSE ME! Since when were YOU allowed to speak as an adult!" We run into an interesting situation with our school, there are some very free range children in his class who actually speak like that to their parents and about their superiors, as you put it so eloquently "Hell to the NO". He never got detention because he didn't continue his lip towards her .. to her face anyway .. but you're damn straight I made that little brat write an apology letter to her, he had to include what he did wrong and WHY it was wrong. He was also punished at home, privileges? What privileges ;-)

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    You're my parenting role model.
    (Thanks for another great blog!)

  • I love you. This is the most wonderful blog. I am a School Counselor at a middle school and I wish that more parents reacted this way. My own 12 year-old daughter (who goes to a different middle school) got caught cheating on a test about a month ago. Her teacher called me, much like your son's, with trepidation in her voice. I was mortified that my Honors student would cheat on a vocabulary test, but wanted her to feel the full effects of her actions. The teacher was going to give her a detention. Do you know she never did??? The consequences came from home.
    Anyway...thank you for your blog, for all that you do!
    I'm changing jobs to be a high school counselor next year...I can't deal with middle schoolers all day and then all evening too!! Whew!

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    I have grounded my son before and took away all privileges. He was allowed to read a book or play outside and that was it. No TV or electronics whatsoever. Another time he was so bad at school I made him sit in his room after school on his bed and think until bedtime and think about what he did for two evenings in a row. He was allowed to come out for dinner and that was it. He had to be able to tell me what he did wrong, why it was wrong and why he did it before the punishment was over. Definitely deal with punishments now before they get older. If you don't handle it now, it will only get worse when they get older.

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    I love how you handled this. So many kids today have no respect.

  • In reply to BGillen:

    thanks. i have had many people to role model this stuff for me. i'm a lucky gal. and you are right. a lot of kids don't have to have respect. it's not role modeled for them. sad.

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    I absolutely love your blog. I can relate on so many levels.

  • In reply to Karli Burnach:

    thank you. i mean it. thank you.

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    As a middle school teacher, and mother to a 4 year old who already has a personality very much like your son's, I loved this post particular blog post! Excellent and entertaining!

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