‘Here always is,’ on parenting

And there was the time I got arrested for furnishing alcohol to minors and underaged drinking—and you wouldn’t think you could be guilty of both, but that’s the law. The night I called my parents late from Erie, PA (from college) and told them, and how my dad reacted.

We were guilty of those charges every day for a whole year I think. But our landlord was in cahoots with the police and wanted to take our rental deposits right at the end of our lease. It was just a normal Sunday afternoon, four or five of us trying to finish the dregs of a keg from the weekend, probably farting and looking pathetic out on the front porch, when the cops pulled up, and we ran and hid…and they said you better come out or it’s going to be bad, and foolishly I believed them.

I was 19 and charged on felony counts, amounting to $3K in fines and two years’ probation. I hired the local attorney known for getting college kids off underaged drinking charges but he lost our case that day, and he pulled me aside and said he knew the judge, and the judge was cranky because he was going through a divorce but my attorney could get me off if we appealed (his rates would double)…and I said no thanks, and hired a public defender, and lost. And I was a pre-law student then, but switched to theater the next semester.

It took me a couple years to pay the fines off. I worked crap jobs at college washing dishes: once, at a Taco Bell where I’d come on just as all the stainless steel pans with melted cheese were stacking up in towers in the back, waiting for me. I liked being back there in the corner, though: there was a meditation to it, real work. Those checks went to paying it off, all part of the fabric of my life.

My friend Peel called me there though, and made some reference to drugs, and the manager was listening on the other line, and told me right then and there with a smirk I was terminated. And so I was.

I worried what would happen to my record, my future, with this. When I called my parents though and talked to my dad that night I’ll never forget how calm and kind he was, his understanding. He was quick to make me feel OK, he caught me.

I thought about that coming out of the shower this morning thinking about Lily who’s 12, and how I’ll react when she makes a mistake like that. Maybe those are the moments we’re best as parents. When it seems nowhere else is safe, here always is.



Categories: Memoir, parenting

Tags: , , , ,

17 replies

  1. You write this tonight about your dad being calm and understanding right when I had yet another frustrating conversation with my son and I told him that I was done until he was ready to grow up and be an adult.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. and therein lies our real test as a parent


  3. There’s something real nefarious in our judicial system. The way we criminaliZe and hyper focus on young adults, stigmatize them and all that. And god forbid you’re a minority or poor! Young adults drinking alcohol? Let’s rob them of thousands of dollars and hours of their time! And then psychologically the way we internalize these sorts of incidents, the way we have to tuck our tail, tell the real authority, our parents, and the disgusting reality that a lot of parents are hypocrites and use it as an opportunity to project their own stress and failures on to their kids, for their own benefit of course! All right, the rantings of a juvenile delinquent are done. Damn the man.


    • That says it. You’re right, and we were all well-off white kids. Jeez…you said it man. I was too tired when I wrote this last night, the pilot light was out. You lit it up.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah subject hits a little too close to home. What’s perverse in it too, is that in our culture we idolize the rebel and the outlaw, while existing in a police state. So man getting you down, time to up the ante and double down on criminality, or that’s how I saw it, for a long time. And frankly I’m lucky I was given enough grace that I didn’t end up dead or prison! On that note, time to get out of my cozy bed and go eat some eggs. Think u set the them today though, long live the outlaw!!! Buzz for minors and everyone else! Hope I get “hey mistered” or something today!


  4. Do the girls know you were arrested? Mine found out when I had to report it to agents at the border one time. It kind of transformed me from a boring dad to a boring dad who used to be badass.
    You’re right about that last bit, too, by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So you’re an inadvertent felon, eh? I agree with amcmulin that the system is f$&ked in its harassment of young people, whose lives can get totally derailed by something like this. It’s probably a subtle form of population control, or a way to funnel certain young men into the military in lieu of the draft. I know. I’m cynical.

    Lily’s lucky to have a dad who’s been there. Safe haven.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeh you could say that (wow, “felon”). Austin was right about the system man. Hard to be a punk-ass white boy who can’t even grow a beard yet in the hinterlands of Erie Pa.


  6. I always overreact. Always. My wife talks me down off a ledge and I take a new approach using calm. That always works out better. You’d think I’d learn but I get all emotional. On Saturday, I caught my oldest being cruel to the youngest. I really lost my shit. I go into shutdown mode. I can ice someone pretty good. I iced my father when I was a kid so I’ve had loads of practice.


    • Yes to calm. I love when I get a batch of comments from you, it’s great. I never heard of ‘icing’ someone but that doesn’t sound good, not like a cake.


  7. Lovely


  8. I loved this post. I have a son who is about to enter into middle school this year and I’m learning that often times just simply remaining calm is the best way to handle certain situations. Kids often think parents will be in an uproar when things happen. One of kids broke an item last night that I had be saving for 2 years and they instantly started crying. I merely walked up to them and said it’s ok. Anything can be replaced but a parents lasting relationship and impressions on their children last forever.


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