"Parenthood is the passing of a baton, followed by a lifelong disagreement as to who dropped it." - Robert Brault
"Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on their toes". - Chinese proverb
As many of you know (if you follow my tweets on Twitter), I was met by what seemed like the most devastating news I'd ever heard in my life (keep in mind perception is reality). I usually don't share too many details of my private family life, this is done to protect them from unnecessary scrutiny, as my choice to exercise my craft with the pen (ok, I know......it's a keyboard) should not put them at higher risk of being the subjects of my posts anymore than say, um, Tiger Woods......and to be honest I wouldn't blog about him either.
Anyhow, I got a phone call from my son's Grandma (paternal grandmother), where he goes every other weekend to spend time with his family. Side bar: Notice how I don't say "other" family. If his father is his father, and not referred to as his "other" father, then why should his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins ever be referred to as his "other" family. That's his family, end of story. I digress. She asked that I would be home despite any prior committments I had (of which I did). I had a date set up with 2 of my favourite people in the world, Joanne Marcano a.k.a. Focused Diva and Patrick Gordon a.k.a. Mista Vybe, and later had to accompany my lil' sis Ms Paige a.k.a. Ms Paige Music to her Sunday night radio interview.
Several of you have had the occasion to meet my children, and based on public opinion and feedback, my offspring truly are every bit the apples of your eyes, as they are mine. And as so many mothers among us, I am as proud of my kids for how they are turning out as can be. At 14, my boy is an intelligent high school freshman with a heart of gold, (looks that makes the girl turn macco), and a very promising basketball career ahead. My parenting approach is very hands-on and straight-forward. I am a realist when it comes to child-rearing which means by choice I never had my children "believe" in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. (my kid would hand me a tooth, and literally say "cheque please!"). This was not so much to "rob" them of their childhood, as believe you me....my kids certainly did not lack in trinkets and gadgets. But more that because in my house, we have a zero-tolerance policy for lying, and perpetuating fairy tales about make-believe Tooth Bandits and red suited fat guys doesn't set the foundation (nor give me much leverage) when I must discipline a liar.
So his Grandma, upon returning my boy and his belongings to me (as she does every other weekend, b/c at the end of the day, feeling at home and comfortable with his Grandma and Grandpa at their home is the greatest gift I could give to him, despite what his father turned out to be or not to be), asks me to sit down before revealing what she had to say. I would say that the ONLY person that loves the boy more than I do is this woman. With tremors in her voice and a look of deep anguish, she proceeded to tell me (Fcuk the Circle of Life) that while putting his laundry away, she found evidence of the dreaded, um....let's call it Puff Smokey Smoke. A really sophisticated grinder (I'm 34 and have never seen one as nice as this in my life) a bottle of Visine (seriously, this kid has the same eye squeamish thing that I do about eye drops) and a lighter (a Zippo to be specific). And that is the precise moment that the bottom of my world fell apart. Like a motion picture, my mind channeled to all these images of prior sparks of suspicion that I had suppressed and disregarded, as my heart (not my head) continued wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt. In full auto-pilot, he immediately denied any knowledge of the origin of the items, (I swear every kid goes to the same seminar on denial/ground holding/and "admitting to nothing") and as my temperature boiled, he remained relatively emotionless.
I know that each and every one of us that shares in this post has their own opinion about parenting, drinking, drug experimentation and violence. But guess what? We aren't talking about any of those things. The part that reduced me to tears, the part that alienated me, the part that broke my heart, was that based on the values that we have raised the kids with, that even when "caught" (read as: busted, baited, found out), my baby bold-faced looked me in the eye and stuck to his bogus, full of holes story. That he must have been set-up, and that someone else put it into his bag. (OK there buddy! Cot Damn he must hate it that I'm an "in the know" Mom who can smell bullshit a mile away). As I am not a judge or a jury, it isn't my place determine if he is guilty, it is my job to make sure that the lesson in this clusterfcuk is learned.
Stacked with a list of "signals" or "evidence" that does not bode well for him such as
- Abruptly changed group of friends (I thought it was b/c he does not goes to the same high school as many of his friends from Grade 8, but as it turns out, his friends don't even go to his school.
- Is confrontational when he is not given permission to "hang out" with his friends after school EVERY day (which is challenging to supervise as my 9 to 5 is more like a 9 to 6, sometimes 7)
- Axe has become his friend, sprayed even when he claims he's just hangin' with the boyz. Really? Since when did Billy and Timmy care what you smelled like.
- He never asks me for money (unlike the Princess that thinks that my wallet is her personal money market).
- He races to take a shower the moment he comes home even before greeting me or his sister, (and I'm thinking "Damn, they must be really wearing these kids out at ball practice")
Anyways, after 24 hrs of reflection, and searching within myself to find the right way to approach this matter with sensitivity so as to not push him away, I did eventually come up with a consequence list that was fair and effective. It involves complete removal of all "trinkets and gadgets" as these are privileges, NOT rights and an opportunity to earn them each back one-by-one (cell phone, laptop, PS3, XBOX 360, iTouch, and TV). He has to hand write letters of "explanation" and NOT apologies (as he has maintained that he is innocent of the crime and that he was set up) to each and everyone who has been affected by his deceit (his 2 Grandmothers, his Grandfather, his father, myself and also the Princess. Sidebar: This idea was courtesy of my Twitter wifey @hl_bb. And as a safe-guard until I am completely convinced that he can be trusted again, he will no longer be allowed to walk or ride his bike anywhere. If I am not available to drive him, speak to the adult that will be responsible for him and can account for the activities of the boys while in their care, then he simply does not go! (I even reduced as of next week, my 9 to 5 hrs, to 9 to 4 pm just so I could ensure that all after school activities have my consent. I'm probably mashing up his flex wit di gyal dem, but yuh wan' play Big Man Tings, then yuh can suffer like a Big (lonely) Man. And the last part of my "rude awakening" approach to discipline, well, let's just say that to those I shared it with (even those outside of Ms Paige) thought that it was brilliant.
Final Thought: Sure sucks for him that this is going down in the cold winter months. If it were summer, I'd have just matched the crime to the punishment tit for tat - If yuh wan "pull" weed like a Big Man, yuh can get out inna di garden an "pull" weeds - unnu know seh we call him "Weed Man". And truss me, this here Mama is like Nutri-Lawn, #1 "Weed Killer".
P.S.: Based on my loving but firm approach that I took tonight, he came clean and fessed up. Then he lay (all 6 feet of him) in my arms and cried. Mission accomplished.
**Disclaimer: the opinions referenced in this post are not intended to be imposed views on others or a standard by which to be measured. That said, any negative references to "weed" or "weed" related topics are all in the context of a minor.