Bad Manners At Taco Bell

My youngest son has a good friend with terrible manners.  He’s a nice 14 year old boy, kind and generous to  a fault, but this kid almost seems proud of his bad manners.

After I spent twenty dollars at Taco Bell for fried chicken tacos, quesadillas and tacos made out of Doritos, Sandor said, “Thanks Mom, that was awesome.”

Then he shoved his friend, Jake.  “Say thank you, chicken butt!”

Jake shoved back”What ever.”

I’m pretty sure I sighed and rolled my eyes.  We’d been through this before. “Alright Jake, I’m not unlocking the car and were gonna stand here in the parking lot until you say thank you.”

He smiled at me, his shaggy hair nearly covering his eyes. Then he looked at the ground and mumbled something I literally couldn’t understand.

“Nope,” I smiled at him. I was playing hardball. “Not good enough.”

Sandor didn’t even mind me calling his friend out.  Jake’s terrible manners made him a little crazy.

Finally, Jake looked at me. I didn’t know if he was gonna flip me off or say something nice. “Thanks for the food.”

“Perfect,” I said as I gave Jake a big bear hug.

We have a serious rule in our world about good manners. Sandor is the youngest of four and the rule is pretty well etched in stone. If you are rude or disrespectful, you can’t come over. But I understand some parents don’t have the same obsession, so if I like the kid, and I like Jake a bunch, I try to work with them. I figure it’s “my house my rules.” And when Sandor goes to hang at a friends house, their parents get to make the rules.

Once everyone was buckled up I turned off the radio.  “Jake, good manners will make your life way easier.”

“How? My friends like me for my jokes, they don’t care.”

Sandor said, “Dude, you’re not that funny.”

Jake and I both ignored the comment. “Here’s the deal Jake, if you have good manners teachers will like you more. That’s makes your life better. If you have good manners parents like you more. Then you get invited to go to more cool places. Cause in the end it’s my call, not Sandor’s, who we invite over or take to the movies or laser tag or whatever.”

“Yeah, we took Sam to Florida with us because he had good manners,” Sandor added.

“And think about this,” I was on a roll with a class A lecture. “If you get pulled over by the police, and you will get pulled over and you have good manners there’s a way better chance he’ll let you off with a warning. If you’re a punk with bad manners he’s gonna definitely give you a ticket.”

At that point I made myself stop, even though I wanted to keep on going. I was on a roll. I turned up the radio and let the boys ignore me for a while. But I was still thinking.  It’s easy to teach good manners if you start when your child is young. Then people praise them for having good manners and the circle starts rolling.  But once a kid turns into a teenager it get’s tougher.  They resist. Jake almost seems to think good manners make him seem weak.

Maybe if we explain how good manners can benefit them, kids will understand. Maybe.

I got out of the car to let Jake out at his house. He was about to climb out of the back seat when I said, “Thanks for coming over, Jake.”

He stopped. He knew it was a trap. Then Sandor leaned over and whispered something to him. Jake got out of the car and mumbled, “Thanks for having me over.”

Then he gave me another sheepish smile and a hug.

Now, if I can just get my son to stop burping like a monster in front of me.

Jpeg

I’m trying to figure out if people actually read my blog…..so…

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“Stop and Frisk” is for Idiots! or how to make kids hate cops forever

friskImagine for a moment that my son, Sandor, who is about to turn 14, his adorable girlfriend and his best friend, Sam  are walking down Central Avenue in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  It’s Saturday and they are going to see a 2 pm movie.  They laugh and push each other as they walk toward the movie theater.

A police officer pulls up next to them and gets out of the car.

“Hold up a second. I need to talk to you guys.”

Sandor looks at his phone, he doesn’t want to miss the movie.  His girlfriend suddenly  looks pale  nervous. She squeezes his hand. He squeezes back.

“I need to see some ID.”

They all shake their heads. “We’re only 14, we don’t have any ID. We’re just going to a movie.”

The officer smiles, but it’s not friendly.”Well, I guess you’re gonna be a little late late. We got a call about some kids spay painting a building just a few blocks from here. One of them is a blond. Where are you guys coming from?”

“Our house, right up the street.”

The questions go on and on an on.

“What’s the address?”

“Where are you going?”

“Who are your parents? Do they know where you are?”

“Where were you an hour ago?”

“Is that paint on your jeans?”

“Why are you in such a hurry?”

Sandor isn’t as nervous now, but he’s starting to get angry. “It wasn’t us, we’re going to the movie. Seriously. You can’t do this. We weren’t doing anything wrong.” He’s wondering, why is this cop hassling them?

“Yes sir,” the Officer says. ” I can do this. I need both you to put your hands on the back of my car.”

“Why?” Sandor asks and his girl friend starts to cry a little.

“Just do what your told, kid,” the cop says and pushes both boys against his car.  He kicks their legs apart, really wide.

The girl friend pulls out her phone and starts to call her dad but the police officer says, “Please put you phone away.” The girl does what she’s told.

The officer runs his hand up and down their legs, inside and out, around the waist band of their jeans. He reaches inside Sam’s boots, then checks the front pockets of their jeans and the pockets of their hoodies.

A car load of teenagers honk and holler as they pass by.

Then the officer gets a call on his radio. He says, “Don’t move” to the boys. Sandor is so mad and humiliated, he wills himself not to cry in frustration.  He wants to hug his girlfriend and tell her it’ll be ok.

He can read the words on the side of the police car “Protect and Serve.”He looks at Sam, he wants him to see those words too. But Sam is gone. His face is ashen  blank, absolutely empty. His eyes look as though he’s shut down.  Sandor knows that look. It’s how Sam looks when he’s beyond angry, when he’s thinking about revenge and getting even. It’s his game face. Sam never lets anyone see his real emotions. But he never forgets.

The officer returns, “Alright guys, your good to go. They picked up the kids working on another building. Stay out of trouble.” And then he’s back in his squad car and gone.

Sam and Sandor don’t know what to say. But now, at the age of 14, they both hate and fear cops.  The officer humiliated, embarrassed and violated them. He made them feel weak and powerless in front of the entire town, in front of the girl, and for no reason. This feeling will never leave the boys.

That’s what the “Stop and Frisk” policy does to young men. I understand it might lead to a lot of arrests. But      “Stop and Frisk” will to turn an entire generation of African Americans, Muslims, Hispanics and whites kids against law enforcement. The officers will never be trusted or respected. Just feared and hated.  And that’s not what cops want.

“Stop and Frisk” is a lazy and easy way to make arrests. But it will destroy any hope of having minority communities work with the police.

Our Law Enforcement Officers deserve better and our young people will demand better, or seek their revenge for being humiliated.

 

  • This story is one hundred percent a work of fiction.

Being 19 is The Worst!

lexoBeing a nineteen year old has to be one of the hardest things on the planet. Your technically and adult, so you are supposed to know what you’re doing. But nineteen years olds don’t even have fully develop brains so they might be crazy smart and still do the dumbest stuff. And it’s not really their fault!

Most 19 year old are on their own for the first time. So they have to deal with things they have never ever even considered. Landlords for example. He has power, he’s a grown man, he owns the place you live. You have to pay him money but you have to hold his feet to the fire and insist he fix things when they are broken.  Demanding a grown up do something for you for the first time is awkard. But that’s what happens at 19.

At 19 you don’t have your mom or dad making  judgmental observations about your friends. At first you think it’s great. But then, bad things start to happen because you accidently pick terrible friends.

When you were 16 you folks would say things like “Honey, I think your friends are kind of snarky bitches, kind of back biting don’t you think?” And you would realize it was true.

Or “Honey, I think your friend is a drug dealer and maybe using you for your car.”

I remember once, years ago, one of my kids was 19. They moved into a terrible terrible Little Rock neighborhood. They thought they were friends with the low life neighbors. I tried to warn my kid. “No Mom, they are my friends. You don’t understand.”

A week latter the trashy friends stole everything in the house including the laptop with lots of irreplaceable creative stuff on it.

Nineteen year olds have to move away and grow away from their parents. that’s natural. But it’s so hard.

For a nineteen year old there are just so many new and really important issues and situations they want to handle and need to take care of but they end up calling home for advice. Even though that’s the last thing on the planet they want to do because they are trying to be independent. There are insurance deductibles, and deposits,  and groceries, bills, over draft charges, flat tires, dead batteries, lost keys, tax returns, utilities and direct deposit pay checks that arrive two days after all your bills are due. Parents handle most of this stuff until you move out on your own.

Even health is an issue. Without your parents hovering and annoying supervision 19 year olds don’t get enough sleep and eat really crappy food. Then they get sick and feel terrible. After months of feeling puny, though you are in the prime of your life, you relize what your parents preached was true. In order to be strong and feel great you have to eat well, sleep well, help other people and exercise. You have to take care of your body if you want to feel good.

But little by little they figure things out, they learn what to do. They don’t call home every day for help, or even every week. They figure out how to be an adult. And for a parent that’s a really proud and heartbreaking day.