I often talk about the calm before the storm when it comes to kids. Around sixth grade it seems like the teenage attitude really starts to take off. That’s when Justis got the whole I’m right and you suck attitude and Keaton is smack dab in the middle of that right now.
Around eighth grade Justis began to return to the mother ship. He’s a teenager so he still has attitude, but it’s not the extremely annoying I know everything in the world and you can’t tell me different attitude of sixth and seventh grade. He actually started to be helpful around the house again and not talk back as much. It’s been nice.
But I knew that was just a brief moment of sanity before the tough stuff started. The tough stuff being what many teenagers go through; drinking, smoking, sex, etc. Being that I’m so incredible young [stop laughing] I vividly remember high school. I remember the peer pressure. I remember how easy it was to get around your parents rules. I remember the desire to make my own decisions. I remember wanting to be cool. I remember.
I’ve been hoping we could just skip right over that and move in to young adulthood where Justis would get a good job, be responsible with his bills, find a nice girl and settle down. Yeah, I know. Pipe dream.
Justis is a good kid. And although I’m not naive enough to think he’s not girl crazy and not untouched by the influence of others, I do trust him. Which brings me to today’s post. I have to vent to you because I don’t want Justis to think I don’t trust him. But I’m steaming mad, and it ain’t at dirt.
Like many teenagers, Justis likes having friends spend the night or spending the night at a friend’s house. I assume this is because we, as his parents, are incredibly boring and hanging out, playing games or watching a movie with us is totally uncool.
One of Justis’ friends spends the night a couple times a month. This kid is what the kids are calling “Emo,” which apparently stands for emotional. It’s one step down from goth. He wears black, dyes his hair black [with a red streak across the front] and paints his fingernails black. Although there’s been so much in the media about goth kids, I don’t have a problem with it. Clothes don’t make the kid. This kid is always respectful to us and has a good sense of humor. He’s a good kid. [And I actually love his hair.]
Justis spent the night at this kid’s house once a while back; at his dad’s house. Everything was fine. Justis had a good time. And we didn’t have any problems.
Last night Justis asked me if he could spend the night at this friend’s house again; only his mom’s house this time. Lee is helping a friend of mine move today and I had to take Skyler to dance this morning, so I told Justis he needed to be home by 10am so he could babysit his brothers for an hour. He said that was fine, that his friend’s mom could bring him home. So all was good.
Then shortly before Lee and Justis left to take Justis over to the friend’s house, Justis told us he needed $20 because they were going to go out to eat.
First, $20? Where the hell are they going to eat where it will cost one teenage boy $20. I can go out to dinner with my friends, enjoy a good meal and a couple of margaritas with money left over for a decent tip with $20. [Remember, I live in the Midwest and not in Chicago.]
Second, they invited a kid to come over and then they don’t treat him to dinner. How do you all handle this? When our kids have friends over, we feed them for free. We have season tickets to the local community theater. A couple weeks ago Keaton couldn’t go so Justis brought a friend. We always go out to dinner before the performance so we took Justis’ friend too. It never, ever occurred to me to have that kid bring money. It was my treat. If I didn’t expect to pay for him I wouldn’t have invited him. Is it just me?
But that didn’t really bother me that much. Maybe they’re strapped for cash and they just wanted to make a fun night out of it. I’m was fine with it, so we sent him off with $20.
This morning, at 7:30am, Justis called. He said his friend’s mom was at his friend’s dad’s house and her car broke down. So Lee said he’d pick him up at 9am.
When they got home this morning Lee told me the kids ate at Taco Bell and they walked there. WHAT?!? This kid’s mom lives in a bad part of town. I mean it’s no seedy side of Chicago, but there have been a few shootings in that part of town in the last few years. And I was trying to think of where the nearest Taco Bell was from there. It’s at least 10 long blocks [probably about 2 miles] from where this kid lives. And the kids didn’t have school yesterday because of the weather. It was cold and snowing and the wind was really blowing the snow all over. So my kid walked 10 blocks in the freezing, blowing cold in a bad neighborhood. Nice.
Then Lee continued on and told me he didn’t think the friend’s mother was ever home and Justis said they went to bed around 2am, but Lee thought his eyes looked bloodshot. I said, “Bloodshot like he was up all night or bloodshot like he was drinking?” Lee told me to go talk to him because I would be able to detect that better. [In a side note, Lee and alcohol have a very turbulent relationship which ended in Lee cutting all ties a year and a half ago. So, as his partner for the last fourteen years, I am quite familiar with what a person looks and smells like the day after a night of drinking.]
So that being said, I went to talk to Justis. I said, “When did [friend's] mom go over to his dad’s house?” Justis said she went about 11pm last night. I said, “What did you and [friend] do all night?” Justis said, “[Friend] doesn’t really like to play video games, so we only played for about an hour and half and then we just watched TV and listened to music.” I said, “We’re you drinking?” Justis gave me a crazy lady look and said, “NO!”
I believe him. I have to because I don’t have evidence otherwise. And, like I said, I trust him. But I felt like I had to ask him to make sure he knows we think that behavior is inappropriate and we won’t tolerate it. Also, we know that this friend has drank before because he said so on his MySpace page. So Lee said, “We know [friend] drinks, so we just want to make sure you weren’t drinking.” And here’s the kicker. Justis said, “Yeah, he drinks with his mom.” Which caused me to channel Adam Sandler in the Wedding Singer as I said, “Information that would have been nice to have yesterday.”
So I’m not at all mad at Justis. I am however extremely disappointed in this kid’s mom. I try really hard not to be judgmental, but when it comes to my kids I reserve that right. I can only think of one reason a women leaves at 11pm at night, especially when she goes to a guy’s house. And that’s a booty call. I thought that was something people did in their twenties and grew out of after they became parents. I guess I was wrong. I just, for the life of me, cannot figure out why a woman would leave her fifteen year old son alone all night long for any reason, especially sex [if that was the case]. Let alone, leave my child alone all night long. What goes through a person’s thought process when they think that’s okay?
Needless to say, Justis will never be staying at her house again. I’m all about giving teenagers the room to make their own decisions and to grow. But that doesn’t mean leaving them home alone all night long at fourteen or fifteen years old. I might be overreacting [which would be so unlike me ], but I don’t trust that woman to be in charge of my child and I don’t ever want Justis to be in that position ever again. I told him I won’t allow him to stay there anymore and he seems okay with it.
What do you think? Would you be this pissed off too? Or am I just being an overprotective mother?