There it is, folks. Right there in the title above. Time for parents to step up and perform. What should they perform? How about their parental duties. Their responsibilities. You had the momentary fun of procreating and producing them, I know. We all did. There comes a time, though, when you have to finish the job. Yes, we all know we have at least 18 years of responsibility when we bear kids. If you don't know it, then listen up...though I believe everyone reading this understands the rules. This is akin to a football game - you don't quit after the opening kickoff. You don't see a Nascar driver (Talladega last Sunday - you expected the reference!) walking back to the garage after firing the engines. So why am I jumping on this topic again today? Honestly, it's one of my 'Soap-Box' issues that I am always on, yet don't mention constantly. Again, you ask, why today?
As is typical of my mornings, I was watching the first hour of the Today Show before heading to my appointment in Memphis. Breakfast at a barbecue joint. (long pause) Okay, I made that up. The barbecue deal, not the Today Show. Again with the digression, huh? Maybe I am simply avoiding the topic. You see, this morning they broadcast the story of two 14-year old girls in Minnesota that were found dead after an apparent sleepover suicide pact. Go back and read that again....please. 14-years old. They were 8th graders. Show of hands, who's got kids that age? My daughter just turned 15 and this story made me almost physically ill. They showed their pictures and no parent could help think of their own child. How would anyone endure the pain of losing a child (I know some friends have experienced that unenviable grief), especially to suicide?? At that age, the thought of it is incomprehensible.
The new buzzword made its' appearance, too - were they victims of bullying? I have to admit (and you will all agree) that 'bullying' isn't anything new. There have always been larger, stronger, bigger, prettier classmates that felt it was their entitlement to treat others with complete disregard for their feelings or safety. Some used their powers for good, others for evil. Yeah, I kind of stole that analogy, but it keeps you reading, right? Anyway, I had a long drive today and tried to get my mind around this concept. I can't. The only explanation I can find is the same as the one I get when I ask why the students act the way they do in class...and in general. At some point (I've mentioned this before), a student got a spanking with a paddle and the parents complained. Actually, it was a kid's-rights group. They were acting in the best interest of the student...they said. At some point, we began giving 'time-outs' instead of 'knockouts' for horrible behavior. Parents were no longer allowed to discipline their children either. Sorry, I remember the paddle in school and the belt at home. I will tell you now that it hurt like a sonofabi......you know, bad. I can also, very honestly, say that the punishment fit the crime. I have to reiterate, too, that this IS NOT abuse. It is discipline. There's a difference - look it up. Now, before all you parents that are much younger than I start screaming that I am Satan's Helper for being an advocate of discipline, let me point out that the anniversary of Columbine is upon us once again. Any questions? Yeah, I thought the hands would be lowered. Can I say it was, indeed, bullying? No, but it's still an issue today and it needs to be addressed. Talk to your kids. If they are victims, deal with it and help them. If your kids are the bullys, beat their ass. Seriously, get them to treat people nicely and fairly and justly. Don't tell me it can't be done. I bear witness to a daughter and her friends that have befriended the handicapped children at school and for that, I am profoundly proud. She can slide with a few 'B's or even 'C's if she continues that behavior. I admit I was not always the person she is...and I am extremely proud of all of them that do the right thing.
The other part of this issue, and the hard part for these girls parents, is that they missed the signs on their social-networking pages. There were comments made that, in hindsight, should have tipped them off to at least have a conversation. They would have never known the real issue from the posts alone, however the talking needed to start then. I implore you to read what your kids are doing. read what people write to them. Read what people ask them. You have no idea the clues these pages can provide. Could it cause a fight between you and your child? Hell, Yes! Should you give up? Hell, NO! I can attest to the fact (and my friends remember) that it caused a 3-month long moratorium of conversation between Brittany and I. No speaking at all. I wanted access to her page and she would not. Things are different now. She and I speak regularly, see each other frequently, and brings her friends to stay with us because she loves coming to see us. She is the light of my life...yet I know I have many more years to be 'Daddy'. From what I hear, it never ends...unless. Unless you are unfortunate and miss the signs. Unfortunate and lose them....to drugs, to alcohol, or to death. Again, I am begging you. They are our youth (and the ones that will change your bedpans) and will lead this country at some point. Our parents got us here, it is our responsibility to get them to the same point. They want to be taught, disciplined, loved. We owe it to them. I've rambled enough for this post. Go hug your kids...or call them...or write them a note that says how much you love them. For God's sake, stay in their lives.....because they need and want us. Really.
Until next time.......