Friday, October 13, 2006

Carl's Story 8: Going AWOL

Carl did the disappearing thing a lot. He lied about where he was going to be, for no particular reason. Of course he was trying to establish that we were not in charge of him. I on the other hand was determined to establish that we were.

We had had a training in which we learned to ground "deeper, not longer." The first time Carl was grounded he was just grounded for the weekend. The second time it was till the weekend, but he lost his music and books and art pads. The third time he had to keep the door open from 10:00am-10:00 pm every day.

Then came the day when he had asked if he could go to a club in The City. Hubby went to check it out. It is intended for underage kids and seems really safe. The kids can't go back in if they leave (so they can't go out to the parking lot to drink or do drugs and then go back in). Parents are welcome to come in at any time with no cover charge to check on the kids. There were a few other things which made it seem like a safe place to go. We told Carl to call us from the club when he got there.

He did call, but it was from a pay phone (caller ID can be very helpful.) Hubby thought for a minute and then *69 the number. We found out that it was a different, less popular club. One we would have also given him permission to go to, if he had asked. It was in The City but I put on my coat and drove in. I got to the door and explained why I was there. I walked in and went past the Carl's friends and tapped him on the shoulder. "It's time to come home." He was stunned. He silently followed me out to the car.

We drove and after a while he said, "How did you find me?" "We have a locator chip in your skull." "No, really." "Honey, if you can't figure it out, I am not going to tell you."

"On a scale of one to ten, how angry are you?" "You know, I am not angry at all. This is more fun than I have had for a while, and this is going to make a great story. I am going to tell it to friends and acqaintances, at parties and at lunch at work, probably to just about everyone I ever meet. I am going to tell it for years."

When we got home Hubby had already removed everything fun from his room.

I thought that would be enough, but it wasn't.

A few weeks later I got a call from the father of a friend of his. The father wanted to know when Carl's little brother's ball game would be over. I told him that Carl's little brother did not have a ball game and that I had thought they were over at their house watching movies. When Carl came home that time everything fun was gone from his room and his bedroom door was in the garage. He got it back after two days and he asked, "What else could you possibly do?" "How about confiscating all personal care products for one week?"

For a good half a year he made sure I always knew where he was.

Of course he eventually had to test it out again. I couldn't tolerate the door thing again, I was not quite comfortable with it. So we did a different sort of grounding. He had to be chaperoned for two weeks.

This really was my all-time favorite. I went with him to a sex ed class at the GLBT community center. I asked LOTS of questions. I expanded my vocabulary significantly, got the addresses for where one could purchase various products, and got straight on exactly what risks came with what sexual practices. Very informative.

Part 9


  1. And I thought mine was the only mother in the world cruel enough to remove bedroom door priviledges! Hilarious!

  2. It is our rule that if a door gets slammed in anger it comes off the hinges. It seems pretty effective for my kids. It's getting cold here now, and driving around without a car door gets chilly. (jk).


  3. That sounds awesome. I would love to take the grounding class. I see that Carl had normal teenage testing of limits, but as someone who went through something similar to Carls' (taking care of a parent since early adolescence), I can also empathize that it is nearly impossible to go back to "having someone in charge of me". In the end, for me, I wound up leaving my foster home and going into a local homeless shelter for teens. I'm interested to hear the rest of the story...

  4. The class in which they talk about grounded "deeper not longer" is called Parent Project. It is specifically for parenting out of control teens. Lots of basic behavior modification stuff. It was tougher than we needed for Carl, but still interesting.

    They had all kinds of unusual recommendations: like locking a kid out if the run away. Aparently most runaway teens are living with friends and coming home to get clothes and things when the parents are out. So they recommend locking them out until they agree to follow the rules.

    We have moved away from the control model quite a bit.

    But it was fun with Carl.

  5. If I ever have kids, can I email you for creative punishment ideas?

  6. Oh my god. What an evil genius you are. I think you should write a book on creative discipline. How entertaining are these memories now vs then?

    I would rather have died than sat in a sex ed class with my mom.


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