I have had company since before Thanksgiving. The troubles started earlier in November, though, when my son was coming home through Central Park one Saturday night with a couple of friends from theater group. It was the first time he'd hung out with those two fellows, and they seemed nice enough. I will confess that I wasn't that concerned about him since I was preoccupied with a group of lesbian playwrights and actresses who I had invited over to celebrate the successful run of a play my dear friend KW had written.
The party was breaking up shortly before midnight when I got a call from my child saying one of his friends had fallen, was bleeding and couldn't walk the rest of the way home. Fortunately, KW and her life partner DB were still at my place. I sent up a silent prayer of thanks because, as a security chief for a television station, DB has all kinds of emergency first aid training. She also used to be a nun and now she is a biker - which makes her the perfect person in an emergency if you ask me. She and I dashed down to the corner where we found Jojo on the ground with my son and the other fellow, who I will call Charlie, standing next to him obviously scared and stoned as hell. After a quick and thoroughly professional assessment, DW told me to call 911. Jojo had been drinking a Snapple when the boys were walking out of the park. The cobblestone sidewalk was very uneven. Jojo lost his footing, fell over backwards and conked his head. The Snapple bottle busted in his hand which required several stitches.
The punch line is that Buzz Kill and I were at the ER with Jojo until nearly 4:00 in the morning because his dad wanted to send one of the siblings to the ER to get Jojo. The dad doesn't speak English so I don't know why that was the case. I only know the doctors had to tell him they would call child protective services if an adult didn't come to pick up the minor child. Once he heard that, the dad was there in less than 30 minutes. All this while the poor kid was having a CAT scan. One interesting and helpful note -- in New York City, if the doctors check for substances in the blood, they don't share this information with the parents. This news was especially welcome since I was concerned my kid would be held responsible which would doubtless lead to some sort of law suit.
Now, I agree with my son that being high had nothing to do with Jojo falling over. Plenty of high people walk while drinking Snapple every day and don't wind up in the emergency room. The problem was that my son is not allowed to buy weed from Random Doormen because he could be observed and busted. Baby was trying to be cool in front of his new friends and bought weed from friend's connection in public. The bad boy had to be grounded and a week's worth of obnoxious teenage whining ensued wherein I had to explain why I am allowed to buy weed and he isn't. He is allowed to contribute his allowance money when someone else is buying weed for the night - but Baby is not allowed to get a First Offense. A very reasonable rule, in my opinion.
The next thing you know, I had ten teenagers over Thanksgiving weekend. Only three remained constant. The other seven changed any time they went out and came back. But they are all pleasant children my son met at summer camp in Vermont - a brilliant place run by Deadheads and Quakers where the high school boys and girls skinny dip together after they spend the morning tending their organic farm.
They are lively, delightful teenagers and as such have no clue how noisy they are. Unfortunately, my neighbor Roz knows exactly how noisy they are because her bedroom is on the other side of my son's room. They share a common wall we call the Roz Wall which has led us to name her Area 51. I sent Area 51 flowers at the end of Thanksgiving weekend since I spent the whole time policing the noise. It drove me so crazy that I was considering switching rooms with him so that I butted up against Area 51. I dismissed that notion, however, not simply because it's a hassle to move the rooms but because on the occasional nights when that charming man sleeps over, I have been known to be fairly noisy myself.
The next week was also difficult because Baby got a bad report card for the first quarter. Normally he gets straight A's but this time he got two B's so drastic steps were in order. Buzz Kill called the principal and got copies of Baby's day to day grades in English and History. Baby gets either A+'s or Zeros depending on whether he finds the subject matter interesting or not. The F's and Zeros were just on homework or quizzes but I found myself in a parenting quandary since we have all agreed that Baby should not get in trouble for smoking weed as long as he gets straight A's. Baby's point that he'd think homework was boring whether he'd been smoking weed or not was valid, so I couldn't ground him from smoking weed until his grades came out for the semester. The very idea of grounded a kid from smoking weed for a certain length of time sounded exceedingly goofy to me - and besides, Baby is not ALLOWED to smoke weed per se. He just doesn't get in trouble for smoking weed as long as he gets straight A's. The two B's stood out painfully.
It has been Baby's habit to hang out with his buddies right after school then come home, play Xbox Live, have dinner and then do his homework. After a lengthy discussion, Baby convinced me that the problem wasn't smoking weed since most of the time he and his buddies didn't smoke weed after school. The problem is that he thinks doing homework is a drag. Who can argue with that? We agreed that he must come straight home from school from now on, but as long as his sweet little head is on his pillow by 10:45 during the week, he can go out after finishing his homework. All was right with the world. When Mr. Charming heard about this solution, he declared that I am a Republican's Nightmare as a parent. At first I felt criticized, but I think it's a compliment.
I was perfectly satisfied with this outcome until last weekend when the little bastard pulled a fast one. He was supposed to spend the night with his father (aka Buzz Kill). I was out with two girlfriends at Gramercy Tavern - a trendy restaurant downtown filled with lovely people. However, the pulled pork sandwich I had for dinner was entirely too fatty,and the place takes itself too seriously which automatically means Gramercy Tavern gets a bad review from Menopausal Stoners -- an especially bad review because even the bar tenders take themselves seriously.
Just before midnight I got a call from Buzz Kill, which I let go into voice mail, saying that Baby wanted to sleep in his own bed because he was very tired. I wasn't surprised to hear from Baby shortly after that asking is his friend Joshua (pseudonym) could sleep over since the sleepy excuse sounded like complete BS to me. I gave permission for Josh to hang out and said I'd be home soon.
As it happened, Josh asked some girls over and they brought a very noisy friend named Scott who shouted in Italian whenever he felt he needed more attention. Although everyone was gone when I got home, Area 51 had called the doorman on the kids twice. When Buzz Kill went to see her the next morning, she reported that when she knocked on the wall - her typical way of telling the kids to pipe down - they knocked back. Anyone familiar with Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat will remember the troubled Goldfish repeatedly admonishing: He should not be here when your mother is out. Area 51 was the Goldfish that night.
Baby is grounded again. I am very disappointed and pissed because I can tolerate a lot of foolishness, but I hate it when someone takes advantage of my good nature. Baby learned the valuable lesson that his friends won't necessarily respect his requests which he found surprising. Naturally I remain thoroughly proud of Baby - but we have to change rooms for sure now which may lead to a whole new set of problems with Area 51. The good news is that I get to redecorate and Baby and Buzz Kill have to do all the work as part of Baby's consequences.
There has only been one sad event in this current episode grounding which had to do with Friday night. Normally, I don't smoke weed when Baby is home but it was Friday after work and I couldn't help it. I thought for sure no one would notice. Evidently the way I was dancing to the Christmas music in the grocery store made him suspect something. He leaned over and said, "You are sooooo stupid." I was offended because I thought he said, "You are soooo stoned." I gave him the response I have taught him to use when someone accuses him of being stoned which is, "I don't know why you'd say such a thing." The conversation that followed in the cereal aisle left me sorrowfully exposed. It is very difficult to maintain a position of authority when you can't keep a straight face and your son tries to make you fall for tracer tricks in the check out line. We thought that exploding finger thing was funny in high school, too, so I can't blame him - but it is embarrassing.
Last night, I authorized a night off for good behavior. His father agreed he could spend time with a couple of friends who Buzz Kill likes. I just wanted to get high in peace. I found myself saying in all seriousness, "Grounded means you have to be home by 11:00."
I suspect I am a Republican Nightmare.
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