Curfew Time Doesn't Follow Normal Rules
My teen-age daughter came home late last night. She was supposed to be
home at midnight and, instead, arrived home at 2 a.m. Which is two
hours late, unless you happen to be a mother. Then it is physically possible
for the time between midnight and 2 a.m. to be 10 hours and 43 minutes.
That's what worry does to your frame of time. Minutes seem like hours.
Or at least they do to my wife. I was fast asleep.
This morning, we grounded our daughter until the Second Coming. Not for
missing her curfew, but for not calling. In terms of Kirby Family
Crimes, not calling is second only to mouthing off to Mom within earshot of
Dad, doing something to the dog that requires expensive medical
attention and misplacing the television remote control.
In our family, kids keeping their curfew is important. Part of proving
to your parents that you can be responsible is keeping your deadlines.
However, keeping deadlines is not as important as calling us if they're
going to be late.
Not calling is worse than being late because two minutes after our kids
are supposed to be home, my wife starts thinking aliens got them.
Worse, she wakes me up to explain her theories.
It's a maternal thing, the logic of which fathers can appreciate but
never duplicate. When the kids are late, official Mom behavior goes
something like this:
Meanwhile, Dad is trying to get some sleep. He has to go to work in the
morning. All he really knows is that whatever actually happened to the
kids will be best dealt with tomorrow by a person not crazed from the
lack of sleep.
One minute late -- "I'm starting to get worried, dear."
Five minutes late -- "Oh, I just know that something bad has happened."
Ten minutes late -- "Call the police and hospitals."
Fifteen minutes late -- "Why isn't someone dragging the lake and
putting up roadblocks?"
Twenty-one minutes late -- "I'll have to buy a dress for the funeral."
Anything over 30 minutes late and Mom wants to bring in Mulder and Scully.
It's not that fathers don't care. We do. It's just that a father's
official worry clock runs on hours rather than minutes. Furthermore, a
father has the added worry of what the lateness means in terms of
dollars. If a kid is five hours late, the father is frantic, mainly
about what might have been done to the family car.
Parents worry because they know bad things can and sometimes do happen
to kids. It's something that most kids haven't clued into. Every kid
in the world thinks he is almost immortal, if not actually too cool to
My daughter naively thinks that she can take care of herself. I tell
her that the only reason she believes this is that she isn't familiar
with some of the truly evil things lurking out there in the dark. I
never tell her that the reason I know about those things is because I
used to be one of them.
When I was a teenager, I had a curfew. It was 11 p.m., the local
curfew for juveniles. I never kept it. Somehow, whatever was going to
happen to me for breaking curfew -- lecturing, beating, grounding --
wasn't as important as persuading Suzy Buchowitz to stay out after
Parents and teens should talk about curfews. As a kid, I strenuously
argued for a curfew of 4 a.m., on the following day. My father put his
foot down (barely missing my neck) and said that my curfew would be
whatever the law said it was.
Dad's logic was that if the police couldn't trust juveniles to be out
after 11 p.m., he sure wasn't about to either. Especially since we
were talking about me. Having since been a teenager, father and cop, I
can say that my father was right. Besides, I know for a fact from my
grandma that his curfew was sundown.
My daughter wept and screeched about being grounded. She called her
curfew unreasonable and said it was because we didn't trust her.
She finally got something right.
EDITOR: Humorous story -- but the lack of communication and mutual
respect in this family diminishes the humor for me. As
someone that has worked with teens, and adults, I've found as a manager
that people (regardless of age) tend to respond in the way that
they are treated. That's right.... I don't know your teens -- but I sure
hope YOU will get to known them, before it's to late.
"For others will treat you as
you treat them. Whatever
measure you use in judging
others, it will be used to
measure how you are
(Matthew 7:2 NLT)
"Teach children how they should live, and they will
remember it all their life. "
(Proverbs 22:6 GNB)
[ Robert Kirby, The Salt Lake Tribune -- from Andy Chap -- Ed:Anon ]
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