Sunday, July 17, 2011
Curfewsing, Ain't It?
"You treat me like I'm a five-year-old."
Those were the last words I heard before I fell asleep last night. Just another day in the perpetual curfew wars. A war where I covet a white flag of surrender. Are we alone in this battle? The way that it has been explained to me, I am the only parent in the western hemisphere who still clings to the antiquated idea of a "curfew". With the exception of those kids who belong to families that live in compounds with their cousins, and don't have flat panel TVs. You know, like the Amish.
Right now I have 3 sons living at home over the age of 14. One high schooler, one post-high school/pre-mission, one post mission/pre-independent. They are all good young men, mostly obedient, and very social. The problem is, they all have their own opinions as to how late they should be able to stay out at night - so "one size" definitely does not "fit all."
When the FOMLs come home, they check in to let us know. This week, due to HP7.2, those check-ins have come at 11:00pm, 11:30pm, Midnight, 1:30am, 2:40am, etc. I plan on being tired all summer.
I know it sounds selfish, but I like to get a few consecutive hours of sleep when I go to bed, and I have lost the precious ability to sleep in.
My EC and I talk to my boys about this, and we just can't seem to find a consensus. Here are some of the statements that invariably come up from the FOMLs:
1) You don't need to wait up - just go to bed.
2) When I was on my mission I didn't have to check in. (OK, my RM is way too good to say this. It is possible that I said it to my parents. Often.)
3) If I were away at school, you would have no idea what time I came in.
4) You treat me like a five-year-old.
5) I'm the only kid I hang around with that has a curfew.
6) You don't trust me. (This is supposed to be the "nuclear option")
When I hear these things being said, I say to myself "that is a bunch of crap." But when confronted with the boys face-to-face, I usually respond with something wise like "that is a bunch of crap." (My wife keeps reminding me that everything I think does not have to be spoken)
Sometimes the dialogue improves from there, sometimes not. Our position, when articulated, is this:
1) When you are living in our home, we feel that we are entitled to know when you come home.
2) When you were on a mission you followed much stricter rules, and were always home early.
3) If you attend a church school you do have curfews. Midnight everyday except Friday, 1:30am.
4) Only a five-year-old would complain that they are being treated like a five-year-old.
6) Arrgh! We do trust you, but we trust you a lot more before curfew than after..
That is the dilemma. Kids throw out these ridiculous generalities, and we respond poorly. And I'm still tired.
We used to joke that the Holy Ghost went to bed at midnight. Personally, I don't think that is true - I think he just gets really tired of whispering to people who aren't listening, and, rather than be ignored, he just want to relax with a pint of ice cream. (Maybe I'm personalizing this too much...)
About the whole trust thing: You can trust someone and still not want them to put themselves in a dangerous situation. For heaven's sake, the bishop needs a chaperone to do interviews!
Last October in General Conference, Elder Larry Lawrence said "I have always believed that nothing really good happens late at night, and that young people need to know what time they are expected to come home...There is a great deal of wisdom displayed when parents stay up and wait for their children to return home. Young men and women make far better choices when they know their parents are waiting up to hear about their evening and to kiss them good night." (Full address here.)
My interpretation of Elder Lawrence's talk is that I will be tired for another 15 years.
If nothing else, the FOMLs should be grateful that I have never done what Bonnie Parkin (Former Church RS President) used to do: "We had curfew and told our sons that the Holy Ghost goes to bed at midnight. When they didn't come home, a few times the Holy Ghost told me to go out and find them. That surprised a few of their dates!" (Full adress here.)
So, I have no real solutions, but here is our current summertime stand:
High school Freshman: 11:00pm. Tuesday-Sunday. (Monday nights are FHE - everyone stays in -subject of a whole 'nother post, and much drama)
Post-High Schooler and Post-Mission: Midnight Tuesday-Sunday, Except Friday-1:30am. (BYU curfew)
Additional points to consider:
My house - my rules
My car - my rules
Yes, there can be exceptions
No, it doesn't matter what I did when I was your age
I'm sure some of you are reading this and thinking:
1) He's a TYRANT!
2) He is way too easy.
3) There is a curfew at BYU? I wonder if I ever went to bed before 3:00am.
4) The new Harry Potter is out? How did I miss that?
5) I believe in having a curfew for my kids, specifically because I didn't have one.
Chime in! I would love your opinions on this matter. Meanwhile, I'm gonna go take a nap.