Saturday, September 09, 2006

Some People's Kids Dude

Last night, as is their custom, my nephew's band (Jake's Grounded, a great name) were over at my place to practice. This usually works out well for all concerned because I have a pretty well sound proofed space, which while it is mainly designed for my recording purposes, can double nicely for a rehearsal space. I like it because these are some dedicated kids. They take their music seriously and are very open to anything that might make them better players. They like it because I usually am pretty hands off when it comes to management. In the words of my son, "You don't fuck with us over bullshit." I try not to do so anyway.

So, the kids are over last night, I check in from time to time. I even strapped on my bottleneck guitar to do an old blues number or two with them, then I go back to putzing around the house. At this point my son comes into the room and says "Dude, (yes, he calls me that all the time) did you know that the boys out there are drinking beer?"

I am floored. I know kids will drink, but I can't think of anything I've done that would lead these guys to think that it's something I would be alright about. My nephew in particular knows that I have been clean and sober for a long time now. He also knows from listening to my sister, my kids, and myself that my drinking and drug abuse was a huge problem that nearly destroyed my family, myself, my career, everything I hold dear. I can't imagine a situation where he would think that this is OK with me.

My first instinct (which is almost never something I trust of act upon, I tend to try and bring my reactions down and calmed to a point where I am on a level of say, Ghengis Khan) is considered and appropriately discarded. Then it hits me that, these aren't my kids. I figure that it is the duty and concern of the parents of the boys to find a way to appropriately deal with the situation.

I get on the phone and call my sister and brother-in-law and tell them what is happening. I ask them to call the parents of the boys involved and for them all to please come over and collect their kids. I don't feel good about watching a bunch of teen agers drive off in their cars after they've been drinking at my house and want them, when they leave, to be absolutely certain that what has just been taking place is not something that I will tolerate. I also don't figure it's my job to listen to a bunch of drunk teen agers explaining to me the facts of the situation.

One by one, the cars start to arrive. Things go pretty well until the last kid's parents get here. They are upset and angry. Not with their son, but with me. It turns out that they are the ones who got the beer for the boys in the first place. They tell me that it's none of my business how they manage their children. I tell them that I am in total agreement with that. I also tell them that the things that go on in my house are absolutely my business and that underage kids drinking is not something I will tolerate where I have any measure of control. I tell them that I don't give a flying fuck how they choose to rear their children. I point out that all I have done is make clear that this is not going to happen at my house. Everywhere else in the entire goddamned world is their business. My house, my business. As soon as they leave, and the sooner the better for that, they are perfectly free to do as they fucking well please.

Except asshole dad of the world here isn't buying in to this line of reasoning. He's wanting to get into my face. I tell him that the best thing for all concerned is to get the hell away from me and go on his merry way home. He feels there are things that must be explained. I tell him that I am done with this. That I am going into my house and if I don't see his fucking taillights leaving that I will call the sherrif's office. Then it hits me. Dude here is probably drunk too. I tell him that I am going into the house, calling the cops, and giving them his name, make and model of car, and his home phone number. He says "Go right ahead. I'll be right here."

I am amazed at the response time of our local deputies. I gave them a pretty clear run down of the events and said that while the asshole here is still standing around trying to prove what ever point he's trying to prove right now, he may experience a moment of clarity and make a run for it. Turns out I was wrong there. The guy is still out in the driveway shouting obscenities at my closed door when they roll up.

It also turns out that my instincts about the level of his inebriation were understated. He blows a 1.14 which is pretty drunk by anyone's standards. I end up being the one to drive his son home. I tell the kid that it really was nothing personal, that I didn't want things to go this far and tried to give his dad every opportunity to have it turn out differently. I tell him that any time he's not bringing booze with him he's still welcome at my house (I figure with a dad like that this kid's going to need a long fucking list of safe places to hang out).

Things have settled down quite a bit. I've settled down a lot. Here's where we are with things. The boys know that they still have a rehearsal space, and that this space is contingent upon them being drug and alcohol free while they are here. I will also be wanting to hear from each of their parents before they come over for a while. I want to make sure that everybody involved knows what's going on here. I haven't gone into stuff like drugs and alcohol abuse with these kids. I don't know if I even should. My gut says that if they should ask me about the needle tracks on my arms or ask why I don't drink I will tell them what I can about me and my journey. I'm not somebody that figures kids can make decent choices without being told the truth. I don't know where the dad that got taken by the cops is standing. I did tell his wife that if he decides that maybe it's time for him to try not drinking for a while that I will be willing to give what ever help I can.


Blogger Maggie Rosethorn said...

You did the right thing. I was floored a few years ago when my daughter reported that at one team party (we were out of town so she hadn't attended)the parents of the hostess bought booze - not just beer - for the kids and their only restriction was that no one was driving home drunk, everyone was to stay and spend the night. For 14-17 year olds! Needless to say, that party riled up a good number of parents. I'm glad you did what you did.

6:41 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i am amazed at the number of parents who think like that. even among folks i know in recovery. i am pretty laissez faire about anybody's drinking except my own. i have liquor in the house and will happily serve it to guests. i don't drink it myself, but just because i had to quit to save my ass and my soul doesn't mean that everyone else needs to quit also. it certainly doesn't give me the right to be as big an asshole about my sobriety as i was about my drinking. i have tried along with it to make sure that my kids have as much truthful information about the things involved with both drinking and drugs. they all remember well when i was early in my recovery and dragging them along with me to meeting after meeting. hell, i've even played barbie meeting with my daughters. but teenagers? you've got to give them a chance. but regardless of what parental rights they might believe that they have, they have no rights to impose their judgement upon my house. on that i remain steadfast.

9:26 PM  
Blogger J. Goff said...

Wow, you handled that like 50 times better than I would. I admit that I get drunk a lot and that's my right as an of-age adult. But one thing I cannot abide is being responsible for kids who are drinking. Those fucking parents should have known better than to put you in that situation. I HATE inconsiderate assholes. That guy is a irresponsible prick, and he didn't deserve the good treatment you gave him. Good for you!

11:28 AM  
Blogger Tata said...

Everything you do amazes me.

1:25 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i got a phone call from the kid whose dad bought the beer today. he apologised, i think sincerely, for bringing it to my house. i told him that as far as he and i were concerned it was done. now he's certain about how i feel about the issue, and that i've forgiven him completely. i asked about his dad's situation and it turns out things are stickier. i never gave the dad up for having been the one who bought the beer in the first place, but it turns out he was so convinced of his perceived rights as a parent that he told the police all about it. now he's in some pretty big trouble. it looks like most everything else, public intoxication, trespass, will be dropped to concentrate on the furnishing alcohol to minors, drunk driving, resisting arrest (which didn't happen at my house), and assault on a police officer. homeboy's in a heap o' trouble. his son is coming over to watch the cards play on TV, with his mother's permission and blessing.

1:41 PM  
Blogger FriĆ°vin said...

That man needs to be bitch-slapped and it sounds like he might be getting it.

3:34 PM  
Blogger J. Goff said...

Haha, dude sounds like an A-1 asshole anyway. I'm a pacifist and already, I wanna give him a knuckle sandwich.

4:36 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

i was soooooooo fucking tempted (i'm nobody's pacifist) but i figured let this dude fuck up all on his own. i even considered letting the two dogs that wanted out to tear into him (an english mastiff and a german shepherd, homeboy's name would have been alpo) go and do what good dogs do when somebody's acting stupid on their territory. thank goodness my son and sister were there to be the voice of reason and calm. also, there was the look on the face of the guy's son. shame, fear, embarrassment. i've been there when my da would get loaded and stupid. i didn't want things to get worse for that kid. he's a good kid. like i told him this afternoon, "yeah, kid, you fucked up, but hey, you're 15, fucking up is like almost your job right now."

5:00 PM  
Blogger Missouri Mule said...

You are a wise sage, Music Man.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude: Mr Litbrit here, Deb forwarded me the post... I think for several reasons, first we have three boys, so shit is going to happen, it does now and they have not started hanging with friends late at night getting wasted, but they will, as we all did. Second, was my good friend Jeff. As all recovered drinkers know, there is nothing wrong with me motherfucker, go tell someone else what the fuck to do ass hole, was a pretty regular responce from jeff, as I provoked this auto response when I stated, Jeff its 8:30 in the morning and this is your second 16 oz glass of Gin.
It is truly pointless to try and figure out what makes some alcoholic's happy, or angry drunks, the fact is most are either one or the other. Jeff was generally happy untill provoked, but it was all verbal. The key word in drinking or substance abuse is abuse. Your intervention very well may have stopped the verbal abuse and perhaps phyiscal that your sons friend (and mom) may have been a recipant, the mom who sends a child to you after this traumatic event respects you, and knows this is a safe house. What also saddens me about this, is that this is the legal taxable drug, and is the most destructive of all, costing billions in property and personal damage every year. I dont want to go off on a rant here, but it is time we give Americans a second legal choice, one that rarely if ever provokes fighting, high speed violent crashes, or family separation from abuse, that said... you going to bogart that bone Dude? Later, R

6:39 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

bon giorno mr. brit: i am not a big fan of intervention my family tried them twice on me without any success. all that happened was a couple of self-appointed and self-described experts took their money, caused a scene and accomplished jack-fucking-shit. i am, however, a huge fan of people doing what ever is needed to protect themselves from someone in the grip of addiction. i'm libertarian enough to believe firmly in a person's right to self-destruction, but this does not include forcing me to watch. it also does not include standing by while a child or woman is being abused. the wife knows that i am and have been in recovery for a long time. she knows that i really like their son. i have done some very subtle probing as to the level and nature of any abuse going on at home (a good way to check for bruises is to suddenly say "hey, let's go for a swim"). an advantage of small town life is also that we know and live with our police (a guy i went to high school with just retired as a sherrif's captain and his wife is the current station commander). as far as legalization goes i am with you. most of our anti-drug laws have become price supports for smugglers and criminals and we have through drug courts created a gulag system. the assaults bush and his "gotta fight them there terrorists" cronies have made upon the bill of rights had their first steps onto the slippery slope of compromising our liberty taken by the fighters in the "war on drugs." no knock laws, confiscations, wiretaps, agent provocateurs, were all unheard of until we had the enemy of drug abuse to fight. now, with the wreckage of our individual rights almost complete we are in a land where we have imprisoned and disenfranchise whole segments of our population and the drugs we are "at war" against are more pure, cheaper, and easier to find. i figure it's time for a surrender maybe. instead of prisons and cops, let's try funding treatment and doctors. because of my own recovery i wouldn't choose to do legal drugs myself. shit! this is turning into a post all by itself. . .(put the coffee down boy, step away from the keyboard)

9:32 AM  

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