My son is stupid. No, scratch that. My son is stupid, but his high school principal is more stupid. (I really, really wanted to say stupider but then figured it would mean that I won and I have absolutely no interest in winning this race). We ended up in juvenile court today because my son refused to give his cell phone to his teacher when asked. Now, I get that this is a big deal with pretty much every high school since virtually every teenager has a personal cell phone. And I also get that my son isn’t exactly the best-behaved 10th grader in that school. What I don’t get is that we had to end up going to juvenile court after the school had already suspended him for the final week of school and his parents grounded him for almost a month until the court date. Trust me, he knew how pissed we were that he didn’t obey the teacher and give up his damn cell phone for the class period. “His opinion” as he told the judge today was that he didn’t feel he had to give up his cell phone because the teacher was mistaken; he wasn’t using it at the time. Then, when the principal also requested that he give up his cell phone, he repeated the same line and then refused to wait for a parent to pick him up leaving with a friend instead – and I guess that is where the line was drawn. They defined my son as an unruly child and requested his presence in juvenile court. “Unruly child.” Okay, now that is being nice; I certainly could add a bunch more adjectives to that description.
It was actually fun to listen to the judge beat into Michael the same concepts that he has heard from his parents for years. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t fair; it doesn’t matter that the rule is stupid – you are the child, the school/teacher/police officer/parent/adult is in charge: Obey. Them. I especially liked this part of the lecture from the judge: “Look, if you don’t like the rules then finish high school, go to college, graduate, apply for a job at the high school, become the principal and then you are free to make or change all the rules you want. Until then, stupid kid, obey the rules and don’t argue with them.” (I put in the “stupid kid” comment, the judge didn’t actually say that, but I bet she was thinking it).
The whole day started off badly. We were to report to the court at 8:00 am. So we show up at 7:45 am, wanting to make sure we are not late. Michael and I both attend so we can make sure the court can see how seriously we, as parents, are taking this. There were people going in through the glass doors. Unfortunately, when we tried to come in, we were quickly greeted with an abrupt “You can’t come in here until 8:00 am; employees only before 8:00 am.” So we waited with the other pissed off parents and “unruly children” in the vestibule until 8:00 am. At that time, Michael walked back in.
“You can’t come in,” the security officer barked again at us.
“It’s 8:00 am; you said to wait until 8:00 am,” my husband responded.
“No, you have to wait until I wave you in.”
So we stood there for a minute. Now, should we go back out and wait for him to wave us back in? It was now 8:02 and there was a line forming behind us. Finally with a clearly pissed off motion, he waved us to approach the surveillance station to be scanned before entering.
At this point, I poke my husband in the back and hiss, “Great, thanks. Now they are going to put the unruly parent to the end of the list and we are going to end up sitting in here all day. When will you learn not to piss off government employees?”
And we also had to admonish Michael to do the following: 1) You answer with a “yes/no, sir/ma’am to all questions from the judge, 2) keep your hair out of your face, 3) spit out the gum, and my favorite (which I truly believe would make a great rap song), 4) Why the hell did you wear your bedroom slippers to court?
And it was interesting to people watch:
- What parent would let a child wear a black t-shirt with white lettering that says: “My Parents Are Stupid” to a court hearing?
- I appreciate that you are having family problems. But do you have any sense of confidentiality or privacy? Maybe your “unruly child” wouldn’t be quite as unruly if you weren’t bitching about them and the intimate family details in a very loud voice for all to hear.
- Some folks are just not meant to be parents. And that is all I am going to say about that.
- I thought the little 8 year old followed her grandparent’s request very well in getting her something to read. It wasn’t her fault grandma didn’t like the children’s book that she took so much time carefully picking out for her.
- You could definitely tell how pissed off parents and unrulies were by counting the number of chairs that separated them.
And I am also quite taken aback that they did not request ID from either Michael or me. Which means, technically, any adult can bring a juvenile in and pretend they are his/her parent or guardian. I would submit a strongly worded letter to the court system, but seeing as they didn’t open an official record but made Michael write a letter of apology, take a behavioral psychological test and lose his cell phone for two weeks was very lenient. I strongly suspect the judge also kind of thought the high school principal was a bit of a weenie for referring us. They are supposed to call us back on the results of the behavioral test. Michael told me not to worry – he said he marked “no” to the question of “Do you ever have thoughts of murdering your parents?”