I’ve only been sequestered to detention once in my life. I was 16 and in high school. I was driving my fancy little RX7 that I bought for $2000 from working an entire summer at Water Country. One day, I was pulling out of the school’s parking lot. The security-guard-slash-traffic-cop was waving me the go ahead, or so I thought.
The next day, upon arriving to homeroom, I receive one of those little pink slips. You know, the ones that always have an ominous message and beckons the attention of the entire student body to some wrong you’ve recently committed. I’m thinking that his must be some mistake. I’m a good kid. Good grades, never in trouble. Pretty innocuous girl all around. So I saunter on down to the principal’s office fully expecting to receive an apology.
Detention. For ignoring the security-guard-slash-traffic-cop’s ludicrously poor hand signals. Now, I just got my license, but I’m pretty sure I can tell the difference between a solid hand in the air and a circular motion to continue. But there was no discussion, no negotiation to be had. The following day, I was to report to the cafeteria after school to sit with the other ne’er-do-wells for 45 minutes after the close of school. Clearly they didn’t realize I’d be missing General Hospital for this, and we didn’t have a VCR back then.
When I went home and shared this preposterous story with my parents, but much to my dismay, their reaction was nothing that I could have envisioned. Complete and utter apathy. I was banking on some incredulity, some annoyance and frustration at how the “system” could punish their good kid for, at most in my mind, a complete misunderstanding. Instead I was served up a shrug of the shoulders. What?? I’ve seen mothers whose kids have nearly set the school on fire march into the principal’s office demanding mercy. I was wronged here, and no one had my back.
Don’t get me wrong, I certainly didn’t want my parents escorting me to the front desk to fight my battles, but a simple phone call would have been nice. Maybe my parents were trying to teach me a lesson? One of those “you can only rely on yourself kid” type of deals. Twenty years later my thoughts on that are still bologna. Being a teenager is tough, and no matter what kids tell their parents, they always want to know they’ve got a team behind them.
No disrespect to my parents, because they have been a lifelong pillar. But this incident was one of those things I’ve always carried with me and vowed to never repeat as a parent. I’m not saying that as parents, we should provide a never ending Mama Bear protectiveness. When my children do something wrong, it’s acknowledged and dealt with. But I will always stay involved, find out the story, ask questions and show some support, or condemnation, when appropriate. My kids will always know I have their back. And even though I may never hear a thank you, I know they appreciate it.