OLD WORDS FROM AN OLD VOICE

by Steve Clem on October 3, 2012

Old words from an old voice.

The old words themselves don’t matter, and really, neither does the old voice. The only important thing you need to understand is that when old words are spoken by an old voice, sometimes they evoke old emotions. You tell me enough times that I’m a turtle, and by God, I’m a mother-effing turtle in my mind.

But tonight, it was different. I heard the old words from the old voice, and it set something off. I was ready to piss fire and drink blood. I don’t even really know what that means, but it sounds like something Chuck Norris would do, so I went with it.

Whatever you do, do NOT question my intentions or my abilities as a parent. I’m not saying I’m perfect. The fact that my sons picked out a This Beer Is Making Me Awesome t-shirt for me speaks for itself. But when “the fit hits the shan,” I’m there for my sons. It’s why I’m here. And by here, I mean the tundra. Please review the name of my blog at this time. Prisoner = held against my will. Tundra = Minnesota. Do the math. Unless you’re my freshman in high school, in which case you’ll say you did the math when you really didn’t, and then I’ll get yelled at for it somehow.

And then I’ll get yelled at for not agreeing that said son needs to be on antidepressants because of his recent behavior. He’s in ninth grade. Going to be 15 in less than six months. I’ve talked to countless parents who went through this same stage with their sons. I bring this up, and I’m told I’m wrong, that I’m just trying to deny that our son needs medication.

I’m not going to wave a white flag on this issue. This boy is an amazingly smart and sensitive lad. I suspect that the sensitive is overruling the smart at the moment. Here’s a kid who not only dealt with his parents divorcing, but then dealt later with his mom moving in with her boyfriend, which brought a second family into the mix. During puberty. While changing school districts. This doesn’t excuse his behavior. But it starts to explain it.

Assuming he needs meds is the equivalent of saying, “I can’t swim, so I want him to wear a life jacket.”

Tonight, this kid sat and finished every last bit of outstanding homework he had. He didn’t do it because I yelled and threatened him. He didn’t do it because I told him he needed to go on meds if he didn’t finish it. He finished it because I told him that was the requirement. And he knows that means it’s not an option.

And he did it without me hovering over him. Because one thing I’ve learned in my life is this: if you need to have someone hover over you to get the job done, you aren’t going far.

I’m not the perfect dad. But tonight, I’m going to chalk up a victory for me. He did what he should have done weeks ago. But he did it. Without a word.

So regardless of what the peanut gallery has to say, I’m victorious tonight — over a 14-year-old who moved in with his mom’s boyfriend, changed school districts, started puberty, and . . . well, at this point, we might as well predict he will survive Armageddon.

Hey, old voices with old words. I don’t much care for you. I think it’s time you just take leave now. If only it were that easy.

* * * *

Steve Clem is a divorced dad, a recovering Republican, and a Prisoner in the Tundra. He is in The Guinness Book of World Records for being part of the largest Hokey Pokey of all time. He was the founding editor of the Iowa City weekly The ICON.

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