Nicole Knepper">

Taking One For the Team

This article, entitled Taking one for the team comes from Nicole Knepper, writer of Moms Who Drink and Swear on

I was snuggled up with a good book and the dog when my son demanded the moment of him in this ridiculous Benny the Bull mask be captured for all eternity, so I got up and took a pic. Total weirdo, right? But I love him. He knows it. He knows that I always appreciate and embrace his goofenschmirtz.

This was the night BEFORE his need for attention got out of hand.

He’s 12. I never know what’s gonna be on the agenda with this kid. Never have.

Last night I heard him singing a medley in the shower that included The Wiggles, Jay Z and bizarre noises interspersed with giggles. He declared the best part of his night to be when he put on warm boxers, fresh out of the dryer.

Total. Weirdo.

And since he’s grounded for an entire week from EVERY privilege known to a Knepper kid, I will basically be immersed in weirdness for the next 6 days. I’m not complaining, I’m just sayin'…

He’s grounded because his blockheaded 12-year-old logic convinced him it would be hilarious to wear the hat (pictured above) to school yesterday. BLOCKHEAD. This kid is in the double accelerated math program, doing the kind of math that I was ditching school to avoid during my sophomore year in high school, yet he failed to generalize the instruction from one teacher about NOT wearing the stupid hat in HER class to not wearing the stupid hat in ANY class.

I realize being a math smarty pants doesn’t mean he has common sense, but usually he has enough to get him through the school day detention free. He gets through life trouble free for the most part. Not yesterday.

So when I saw the school telephone number on the caller ID, I assumed that it was the usual call from the nurse at my daughter’s school asking me to bring a change of clothes for her (that’s another story). You know what they say about assuming stuff, right?

Well, I felt like an idiot when my kid’s teacher told me that despite being told to put the hat in his locker, he hauled it out again AND had the audacity to claim that his parents told him he could wear the thing to school. NO we didn't tell him that!

I felt sorry for the teacher, Mr. X., who called to deliver the swell news about my kid's idiotical and disrespectful attention seeking behavior in school and was going to suffer the consequences. I could tell by his voice that the poor fella was a bit squirmy and nervous at first and I’m quite sure that it’s because so many parents don’t take kindly to hearing negative things about their kid.

The garbage those educators have to tolerate from the kids is bad enough, but when the parents are jackwagons it must be torture. It would seem more logical that a telemarketer instructed to call random numbers at dinnertime would be at the receiving end of totally pissed off responses and rejection of reality, but unfortunately for teachers, they get more than their fair share of rude and angry rants on the other end of the line. He didn’t get that with me. Nope.

My kid would have to serve detention, would that be ok (squirm)? OF COURSE IT WOULD! I heard an audible sigh and noticed an immediate change in the tone of his voice. Ahhh… relaxed. I wasn’t going to go crazy on him.

Mr. X had to work it out with his coaching schedule so what would work best for us (again the squirm. anticipating a possible negative response?) I told him that I’d be more than pleased to inconvenience MY kid for any length of time at HIS convenience. BOOM! I felt the tension between us fade out completely as he laughed a little, but no so much that it could have been interpreted as him finding any pleasure in our particular interaction.

He didn’t enjoy making the call and I didn’t enjoy receiving it, but as parents and teachers, we are a team working toward the same goal. If we don’t support each other, these blockheaded, hormonally hijacked kids are at high risk for carving out a bleak future for themselves in a world where the rules DO apply to them. Teachers can’t do their jobs without us and we can’t do ours without them. Nope. We just can’t.

I apologized and assured him that my kid would also have consequences at home because disrespecting authority is unacceptable behavior AND that attempting to split up the teacher/parent team was manipulative and sneaky. He needs to KNOW and remember that the split tactic is NEVER going to be a smart defense strategy when it comes to his blockheaded, yet typical “trying to get attention and find out who I am” behavior.

If I take out the specifics of this particular incident of doofus-ness and put his behavior in the general category of “what kids will do for a laugh,” his behavior isn’t so un-ordinary. He’s just trying to figure out how much of HIM is acceptable to all the other kids whose acknowledgement and approval are now much more important to him that that of the teachers OR his parents.

Fine, he can be “normal” as long as he’s not being a jerk. And although he wasn’t aiming for being a jerk, if he were to choose to continue on with the kind of behavior he used yesterday, he’d be on the fast track to championing the title in no time if I - I mean WE – let him get away with this kind of nonsense. So we won’t. N.O… NO!

Another big, fat, honking NO he had to wrap his brain around yesterday is that being grounded – FROM EVERYTHING- does not mean that I become his entertainment. After a quick game of this:

He started writing down lists of ingredients of recipes he planned to make with me, games we could play and followed me around like a barking Chihuahua, spouting facts about amphibians and the length of sperm whale teeth. This went on for an hour until I told him that he would not be following me around talking AT me for a week non-stop and that we would NOT be spending all of his grounded hours playing Paula Deen and son in the kitchen. NO!

He didn’t realize that being grounded means that HIS life will be amok with un-funness, not mine. Sure I’ll cook a few things with him, and play some games, but not more than normal just because HE is bored. I still have my own stuff to do around here and lots of it. Amazingly enough, he thought that his week of grounding was going to amount to a plethora of togetherness time with ME, “like the old times,” he giggled while hugging my arm. Umm…NO.

Some say that by grounding him, I am in fact punishing myself. It’s true. To some extent, his misery will affect me, but not as much as it would in 10 years when NOT doing anything would result in having to deal with a friendless, jobless, inconsiderate dirt-bag who doesn’t know how to treat others respectfully and take responsibility for his actions. Right now I’m merely taking one for the team. I say YES to the team.

In the meantime, as in this week, I’ve already learned the difference between a frog and a toad AND that a sperm whale has 10 inch teeth. I think we’ll both survive.

Read more from Nicole at

I write both from the heart and my experience as a mental health professional and a parent of two nutjob kids who provide me with more material for this nonsense than I could ever use.

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