It can be both entertaining and disconcerting that my kids still believe they pull a fast one over me. To start, I have always been more observant than the average person. Add my own imagination and so many years of investigative experience and you have the makings of the perfect show: CSI: The Mommy Files. While I am certain there are a couple escapades I am not aware of, few truly go unnoticed.
The “not me” s and “I don’t know” s usually end with the truth exposed and appropriate discipline issued. Yet the hardest part of investigation is often left to conjecture; the “why” s. Today’s generation of school kids face a whole different set of horrors than did mine, or even my parents’. Those horrors can set off a completely different set of behaviors that can confound any parent, anywhere.
My parents practiced “duck and cover” in school drills due to the threat of missiles being launched at the United States. Bomb shelters were dug into backyards everywhere. Remnant of the era are in public buildings with the ominous “fallout shelter” signs to direct the populace to a place deemed safe during an attack.
My generation adapted the practice of “duck and cover” to be disaster drills; a way to shelter in place during natural disasters such as earthquakes and tornadoes. “Shelter in place” is the latest lingo used in schools, offices, and public buildings to indicate a danger; a danger so visceral that children practice “lockdown” when playing school.
We are now a society so terrified that all we talk about is the latest in a series of horrific acts. Acts of terror perpetrated on random strangers. Acts of terror elaborately designed to bring a community to its knees; and acts of terror perpetrated by children upon children in school – good old traditional bullying.
One of my boys recently began balking at going to school. Now I know this is normal, but not for him. He enjoys most of school and his first class is one of his favorites. After a few feeble attempts to convince me he was sick, I began asking questions. Keep in mind that Mom questions to a 14 yr. old are rarely met with syllables beyond a grunt.
I pressed with the “why” questions, and moved forward to girls – none of which elicited more than a rolled eye. The question that finally hit mark was “is someone bothering you?” His protest was a bit too strong. I changed tactics and headed into the bullying arena. He was not helpful but I came to believe that someone in his first period was threatening him. Was it a physical threat? Was it a kind of school yard blackmail? Did he owe someone money? Full denial led me to question if someone was threatening a loved one. Ahh, there it is… a hint of fear. His eyes betrayed him and I knew something had gone wrong; but what could it be?
Not surprisingly, he closed up. Revealed no more and stared out the window so that I could not penetrate his soul while driving. Too little information had been eked with too little time to explore as we pulled into the parking lot. I finished the ride with a lecture on the different types of bullying and the proper actions to end it and drove away wondering, no – worrying about my son who’d been acting oddly the last few days.
A mother’s imagination is a both blessing and curse. All manners of scenarios flashed as I drove the brothers to their school, and myself to work that day. Did he owe money? Did he do something wrong or shameful and was being blackmailed? Was he protecting another? Was the “friend” he hung out with after school selling him drugs? Yep… I went there.
For this fear, as well as other reasons, I forbid him to leave school grounds before I pick him up. No more afterschool hikes up the road to Jack or Wiener Schnitzle. I worried that since he had no money to buy with he might be borrowing heavily. I feared that his “friend” was maybe spiking the sodas they shared. I feared my own loss of control.
Regardless my fears it seems things calmed down after I stopped his afterschool trips. I may never know. You can only push a teenage boy so far before you hear the words “leave me alone, I can handle this myself!” So leave him alone I did, and maybe it has resolved. I no longer have the “I’m sick and can’t go to school” argument with him and am left to ponder – Was CSI: Mom right?