Sunday, February 20, 2005

From the parental frontlines, one man's story

I was sitting in this guy's office, waiting for someone else to arrive to complete a business transaction, when this fellow volunteered a story about his teen-age son.

The guy loves his son. He's a great kid, good-looking, too. The girls, they flock to the house "like birds" looking for him, the dad says. He's smart, as well. So smart that during his junior year in high school, he was ranked 2nd or 3rd in his class.

The dad, a proud dad, decided to buy his son a car. Told him to pick out what he wanted. He rejected the first choice. Too expensive and too fast. He OK'd the second choice.

Months go by. One day, the dad winds up talking to another man. This dad, he likes to talk and is real friendly. He talks to a lot of people. In the midst of this conversation, the dad asks the other fellow what he does for a living. The fellow says he's principal at High School X. Oh, yeah? My son goes there! What's his name? The dad tells him, and the principal says, sure, sure, I know him. "Tell me," he continues, "Why do you always answer the notes I send you with an email?"

The dad is stumped. What do you mean?

"You always send me emails when I contact you." As opposed to calling, or making a personal visit.

The dad could feel the color in his face rise. He tells the principal he's never sent him an email. The principal says he's received many emails, most of which concern the high number of absences of the student. A LOT of absences.

"I'll take care of it," the dad says, leaving.

It's the late afternoon. He goes looking for his son around the high school. He spots the kid's new car in the student parking lot. He drives around on the other side of school and spots his son horsing around with some of his friends, tossing a football around, hanging out.

He calls the car dealer where he bought the boy the car, tells 'em to send a tow truck and take the vehicle back to the lot, he wants to sell it. Then he finds out what's available on the used car lot and tells them he wants the 1981 Toyota Corolla, the one that's way on the wrong side of 100,000 miles.

The dad goes home and waits. Several hours pass. Finally, the son comes into the house frantic. "Dad, I lost the car. It's gone. Someone stole it! I've already called the police." He's distraught, upset, pacing the floor.

The dad sits there, calm.

"Call the police back. It wasn't stolen."


"It wasn't stolen."

"What are you talking about?"

"I had it sent back. Your new car is parked out front."


"You heard me."


The dad makes his son wash the garage floor once a week because the 1981 Toyota Corolla leaks oil like a sieve. The son ended up graduating high school, even though the number of absences he had during his junior year almost prevented him from proceeding to the 12th grade. The kid graduated 23rd in his class. He's still driving the Toyota Corolla and attends Houston Community College.

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