Why am I using the title of a Solomon Burke song as the lead-in for this post? I mean, other than the fact that I love Solomon Burke?
I went to leave for my parent's house around noon today and noticed my van was leaning to the left. All the way to the left. Some sick little psycho slashed both tires on the passenger side of my minivan AND the front driver's side tire on my 68' Bug. Obviously, the cowardly little maggot was working between the vehicles where he would not be detected and I assume was interrupted before he could get the rear tire on the bug. Or maybe three tires exhausted him, I dunno.
I did my fair share of vandalism as a maladjusted, angsty, pimply-faced teen, although I never slashed any tires; let the air out of a few but I was never bold enough to destroy a tire. Destroying tires was for punks who spent time in Juvenile Hall and I suppose my vandal will see his fair share of those walls soon enough, if he hasn't already. I wonder. And I wonder what his parents were doing while he prowled the streets in the middle of the night looking for something to destroy. I wonder if they care when he gets sent up for another few weeks in a Juvenile Correction Facility or if all they care about is what a burden their child is.
No use in wondering. What I need to think about is how to keep my kids out of Juvie Jail when I have teenagers to worry about in a decade or so. When I was in college, I did a summer internship working with at-risk adolescents (a wretched experience) and I noticed one common thread among every single kid I worked with: self-centered parents who had no time for their kids. Likewise, looking back on my own semi-wild adolescence, I remember all the "bad kids" were kids who had no supervision, parents who were never around, were out partying. At the time I envied those kids who could come and go as they pleased but in retrospect, all of them had an aura of profound sadness, a sense of aimlessness and nihilism.
As far as what kind of a parent I'll be when I have teenagers remains to be seen. An article today touted Gen. Tommy Franks as the spokesman for a cell phone containing a GPS chip that sends out regular signals letting parents know where their children are and how fast they're driving. I don't know if I want to be that intrusive; I'd like to think that I will be able to trust my kids on a certain level. Yet, I know I will have to vigilant about who their friends are, where they are going, and what they are doing. I also know that I will have to be extremely involved in their pursuits and passions, attending recitals, games, plays, tournaments, etc., holding their hand through the rough spots and reluctantly letting them go to explore who they will become.
I can't see my kids aimlessly roaming the streets at 2 A.M. looking for a vehicle to vandalize. When I stand in their room admiring their angelic faces as they slumber, it's incomprehensible that in about a dozen years they might be, at that time of the night, awake and rowdy and looking for trouble. As they dream, I dream, dream of them as young adults and although not such angels, not so innocent, still young and eager to explore a large and loving universe. As painful as it is to consider, I know they will have their moments when they fall from grace, when they tumble over the precipice of stupid mistakes.
It will then be my obligation to be there to catch them and not sitting on some bar stool bitching about what worthless brats I've raised.