Life is an open-book test.

No, dummy. TRILOBYTE, not terabyte! Sometimes you act like a two year-old.
No, dummy. TRILOBYTE, not terabyte! Sometimes you act like a two year-old.

When I’m at work and I need ready access to something I’m not sure of, I open an instruction manual, watch a YouTube video, or Google it. No one is expected to know everything about everything, although I have met quite a few doctors and stay-at-home-moms who certainly think they do. In work and in life, we are expected to do a little research to clarify life’s grey areas. So why don’t we teach that in schools? Honestly, unless you can see Russia from your back yard, will not knowing that Juneau is the capital of Alaska really make or break anyone’s career? Who really cares that you cannot write the number zero in Roman numerals? And with the constantly shifting alignment of nations and treaties, does it really matter who North Korea’s ally was in the Korean War?

We flood our childrens’ minds with so much useless information they will never find the need to access again. Their minds are moving at a million miles a minute (which means that in a single minute, his or her mind would travel one million miles — figuratively, of course), and our school system mistakenly attempts to mold them into twentieth-century factory workers in a much maligned world. At first I thought Common Core was a good idea. I thought opponents hated it because it made parents feel stupid. But now that I’ve thought about it, it’s merely a consolidation of the same old mindless data taught by the same old broken system. We do need a common core, but the whole shebang needs to be re-engineered first.

A hundred years ago, libraries were scarce and knowledge was difficult to come by. If you didn’t store something upstairs while you were young, chances are you’d never know it. But, if you think about it, there was much less to learn. With all of humanity’s wonderful and exponentially expanding discoveries, it’s impossible to tailor-fit a single mode of education that fits all. We as a society need to become better at finding a student’s aptitude, and then customize a program that embraces their potential and promotes success.

But nothing will change quickly. Nothing important ever does. There are two primary reasons why this occurs.

If you’ve ever wondered why necessary and fundamental change is slow, especially (and ironically) within socialized government programs, look no further than capitalism. Why? Because there are a whole lot of people making a whole lot of money with the system operating at its status quo. Think textbook makers, lunch providers, equipment vendors, colleges, certification and testing companies, builders, carpenters, utilities, and so on. Education is big business. While educators preach the need to memorize useless state capitals and now irrelevant historical facts, the same education you and I received and were tested on, we have been meticulously blindsided by a society engineered largely by campaign contributions from organizations who operate not necessarily for the common good, but more for their own self interests. While you were busy memorizing Pi to the fortieth place, society changed right underneath your nose. We were trained to be asleep at the wheel, folks. I was there too.

Secondly, and I say this with all due respect for teachers who are genuinely interested in teaching, many of your peers are downright lazy. I met with an algebra 2 teacher about a week ago. During our twenty minute meeting, she spent ten minutes reminiscing about her glory days in North Carolina, and the remainder showing her blatant disgust towards the district mathematics department for changing the outdated textbook. I was there to discuss the poor progress of my A student daughter, who currently has a D in her class, yet all this teacher seemed interested in doing was using the new text as an excuse. Before I left, I asked her if she might be attempting to sabotage the district’s decision in implementing a new textbook. She did not acknowledge my question. I have not challenged her… yet.

What we need to do is stop filling their young and growing minds with irrelevant information from the last century. If you really want to know about John Smith, Pocahontas, and their relationship that would now be considered statutory rape, you’ll gain as much truth from a Disney cartoon as you would from a history book. If you’re tasked with a project that somehow involves deciphering the genetic code of a grasshopper or you need to explain why your boss may be a syrabite, pull up a web browser and look it up. And if you need to know anything at all about Alaska, simply call John McCain’s office.

Advertisements

Fundraisers should be FUN.

I can't seem to get rid of this two year-old cookie dough. Want it?
I can’t seem to get rid of this two year-old cookie dough. Want it?

Hey Dad! Please, please, PLEASE buy a calendar. Buy two, and I can win this pencil. And can you tell all your coworkers to buy some popcorn too. If I sell 500 cans of this crap, I can win an iPad!

It’s that time again, folks. The time when my entire circle of family, friends, and Twitter followers avoid my calls, posts, and texts. I’ve given up on Facebook, because all that’s left in that wasteland are grandmothers who play farming or candy games. Strangers seem to avoid me. Even my employees are busy doing their jobs for a change. I wear deodorant and underwear, so that’s not it. I must have an invisible warning written on my forehead. They must know I am peddling overpriced candles. Or expensive stale pasta twisted in the shape of mascots. Or various other worthless trinkets, coupon books, or some other junk no one needs. Oh, there’s my least favorite – that God awful frozen cookie dough. It’s no wonder I feel so lonely this time of year. Sigh.

Look, I know money is tight at schools. It’s tight everywhere, except on Wall Street, but don’t get me started on that tirade. Tax and millage allocations are declining, and I’ll be damned if I’m voting for that silly half-cent sales tax amendment. Textbooks are ridiculously priced, and ironically, they still suck. And we still need to pay teachers a lot more than we’re paying them so you won’t be stuck with those “who can’t do.” I was an auditor for a short time, so I know there is always a tremendous amount of waste in each and every one of your schools. I’d bet if I walked into your school unannounced, I would find at least ten thousand dollars worth of crap in some obscure closet you might not even know is there. Government employees are rarely held accountable for budgetary mistakes, and nepotism runs rampant. In a perfect world, there might not be a need for fundraisers. But somehow there’s never enough money for something. And unfortunately, human nature and busy schedules push us towards the path of least resistance – fundraisers that suck.

Ironically, the only people getting making and real money from fundraisers are the fundraising companies. At some point in history, Cherrydale Farms in Philadelphia caught the attention of some school administrator after becoming wildly successful fundraising at churches by selling boxes of chocolates at a huge margin. Back in sixth grade, I remember them offering me a beautiful AM/FM boombox I couldn’t live without. Their prize catalog was a child’s dream, especially for a kid in the ghetto. Fabulous prizes were available to anyone who wanted them. All you had to do is sell five hundred boxes of fattening candy. No one could sell that much crap in the city, even with their parent’s help. None of my classmates ever got more than a colored pencil.

Let’s look at these programs objectively. If your babies sell the typical popcorn, wrapping paper, cookie dough, pasta, or candles, your school is lucky if it gets 50% of the sale. What’s worse is that many of these companies will now bribe your children during some bogus presentation showing all the fabulous prizes your kids will win if they’re top sellers. So now you’ll be guilted into spending $20 for that awful garlic pumpkin cookie dough you’ll never eat, and hopefully your school will receive $10 from that sale. Your kid will make you feel like a schmuck if you (that’s right, YOU, and not your child) don’t pressure your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, enemies, those on Jenny Craig, and even those with type 2 diabetes to buy that fattening crap they don’t really want under the premise that it will save your school. It sure seems to me that you, your youngster, and your school might have been better off if you skipped the junk food and wrote the school a check for $15. That’s what we’ve learned to do.

Today, these fundraisers have grown exponentially in every category you could imagine. Chick-Fil-A says they’ll donate 10% of every check to our school on certain nights. That’s just great. My $15 dinner will net the school a whopping $1.50 — but I haven’t read the fine print. I hope there are no catches. Sure, if 100 kids visit the cow weekly, the proceeds could matter. And don’t you dare miss those wonderful coupon books — you know, the big fat book filled with coupons that you’ll toss aside and lose in that junk drawer for years. Your kid will drill the pre-programmed shpiel into your head that you will save MEGATHOUSANDS of dollars on everything if you simply use each and every coupon in that book. Hell, I might even get a pedicure to make it worth my while.

And what happens to all the money that’s raised from these fundraisers? I assume someone keeps tabs on the proceeds. But where does it really go? I certainly hope that’s not becoming another poorly executed nepotistic purchase.

Mr. and Ms. Principals, please stop guilting my children into making me sell this crap at work. Nobody wants it, and I’ll bet you don’t want it either. It’s an extremely poor return on investment of my time and effort. What the hell happened to all the cool fundraisers without the middleman? You know, like car washes, bake sales, collecting pennies, or spaghetti suppers prepared and served by our children? Or arts and crafts created by our children and sold at a fun show? Those methods taught hard work and teamwork. All we’re teaching now is how to support importers and middlemen. In this day and age when many of us have never formally met our next door neighbors, why in heck would you make my kid knock on stranger’s doors? I really don’t feel comfortable sending my kid out on the street, or begging everyone I know to purchase crap I wouldn’t buy either. I’m sure getting doors slammed in her face isn’t good for her development.

I keep asking my child to ask the teacher how much the school receives from each sale. I eagerly offer to write a check in the amount the school will raise for my kid’s targeted sales. And each day, she is too embarrassed to ask such a question, afraid that she’ll be chastised by the teacher and her fellow students for asking. She gets mad, thinking her teacher will frown upon her for not selling as much as everyone else. I tell her to blow it off, but she knows everything at this age. Yep, I’m getting ready for another one of those “end of the world” moments.

Oh, and don’t forget to buy my book, Diary of an Angry Father, for even more wonderfully non-misogynistic information. Hell, I’ll donate a full 11% of all the proceeds to my local schools. I promise.  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1492839590/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1492839590&linkCode=as2&tag=chuckfreshrecomm

Other symbiotic blogs and articles below:
http://www.theindychannel.com/news/are-you-kidding-me-school-fundraiser-profits-anger-parents
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/parents-unite-against-dumb-school-fundraisers/
http://moms.popsugar.com/Why-I-Refuse-Do-Most-School-Fundraisers-27334342

The Only Way To Deal with Bullies and Bullying.

A friend mentioned that his son was being bullied at the local middle school. I can personally attest that children in middle school, and especially the male varietal, are the worst assholes they’ll ever be. My friend is no pussy — he’s actually a big, scary looking dude. And his kid isn’t all that small either. His son got wrapped up with the wrong bunch of idiots, and his life is miserable. His son is depressed and hates going to school. His grades are suffering. Fortunately, he has spoken with his father about it. At least he has a vent. When I told my own father I was bullied in middle school, he laughed at me and smacked me around a bit to teach me a lesson.

I hated to be a downer, but I told my friend the truth. No matter what you do, no matter what your school administrators say, and no matter what threats are implemented by school districts, city governments, and state law enforcement, you are powerless to fight bullying. You have no authority as a parent, and the bullies know this. You can’t beat it, because you can’t go to school with your children to protect them. The world is not yet mature enough to tolerate smart, small, weak, or quiet humans.

I can summarize my advice to him in one single word: MOVE. You have no choice if you want to save your child. Get him or her out of the situation the moment you become aware of it. Move out of town if you can. Change school districts. Home or virtual school your child for a few years. It sounds dramatic, but this may save your child’s confidence — or his or her life.

Lamar Hawkins’ mother arrived at the school to pick up her son about 5 p.m. Wednesday, but he wasn’t there. At about 7 p.m., the family went to law enforcement to report the boy missing. Deputies searched the family’s neighborhood and surrounding area. When they began searching the school, they found the boy. Lamar, who was small for his age, committed suicide at Greenwood Lakes Middle School in Lake Mary after being bullied, Morgan said. The boy’s mother, Shaniqua Hawkins, fought back tears at a news conference and blamed bullies for pushing her son over the edge, saying she tried doing everything possible to help him. Her husband, Lamar Hawkins Sr., sat by her side. The mother said she felt paralyzed by the inability to stop the bullying. “It was a feeling I hope no other parent has to fear,” she said. “They won, because he took his life as a result.” Had they moved their boy, he might still be here.

Tricia Norman, whose 12-year-old daughter, Rebecca Sedwick, jumped to her death in September 2013 from a tower at an abandoned cement plant in Lakeland after months of alleged cyberbullying might have been able to save her daughter had she known about the bullying and pulled the plug.

This topic is so common and so important, I pulled a chapter out of Diary of an Angry Father and I’m giving it to you for free.

I wasn’t always a musclebound bad-ass. I was a pretty small kid in middle and high school. I think I weighed about 70 pounds soaking wet as a freshman. Of course, there were kids who had developed faster, but there were also a number of kids in my size 5 shoes. Teens will be teens, and bullying is apparently par for the course. Fortunately, I was smart. I took several advanced classes – with much bigger sophomores, juniors, and seniors, who seemed to take a liking to mini-me for whatever reason.

There were a couple of kids in high school who plucked my nerves. Bullies will beat you down daily and won’t cease unless you either stand up to them or stop going to school, both options which were not convenient in the 80s. But everyone has their limit, even we 70 pounders. Finster (names changed to protect the asshole) was the worst bastard of them all.

One day, after a particularly rough day, I found an old iron rod in someone’s trash that was short enough to hide in my backpack. I was determined to use it to beat the living dogsnot out of Finster – in self-defense, of course. Sitcoms had taught me that if I decapitated the head honcho, the bullying would end. I firmly believed that. I was a pretty smart kid, so I had a plan. I watched his patterns, knew where Finster’s locker was, found when he was most vulnerable, and was ready to execute the attack. I was scared, shaking, and probably would have chickened out. I figured I’d talk to him first and give him the chance to chill (which would have failed miserably). Fortunately, just before I was going to attack, one of my bigger buddies happened to walk by and playfully pounced Finster into his locker, knocking him over. My buddy rubbed my head as he walked by laughing. I laughed and walked away.

Suddenly, I was vindicated. Finster’s teasing no longer bothered me. My attitude changed as I began to stand up to him, slowly shutting him down. I had backup, bitch, and he now knew it. Eventually, Finster found another victim.

My entire outlook changed, that day. I became uber-confident. I no longer allowed myself to become a target, and was never bullied in school again. But it doesn’t always work out that way. Who knows what might have happened? That bully kid could have died, I could have ended up in juvie, and who knows where that could have led. I was one of the lucky ones.

Bailey O’Neil was an 11 year-old 6th grader, in a suburban Philadelphia school, who was punched in the nose in a schoolyard, in a bullying incident, during recess. Administrators sent him back to class with an icepack. Days later, he began to suffer from seizures and was admitted to the hospital. He was placed in a medically induced coma, to allow the swelling in his brain to subside. A day before his 12th birthday, little Bailey O’Neil passed away.

Bailey told his father that he tried to walk away, but another bully pushed him into the kid who’d hit him. The bullies were reportedly suspended for two days.

And then there’s Amanda Todd, a pretty 15 year-old Canadian teen who endured one torment after another, in the years leading up to her death: sexual exploitation online, cyberbullying, and a physical assault at school. Amanda made a sophomoric error at age 12 and flashed her chest to some asshole on a webcam. That asshole posted her photo all over the internet. Kids are harsh, and they never let Amanda forget it, with a constant barrage of teasing and taunting. Amanda couldn’t take it any longer, and she took her own life.

Bullying happens. And it can happen in many different ways, some subtle, some very open. You, as a busy parent, may never be aware that it’s happening. One of your jobs is to protect your children. You need to pay attention and be in tune with your child’s moods and activities. If you suspect bullying, no matter what they tell you, he or she needs your support. You will need to recognize certain bullying warning signs, including but not limited to the following:

  • Marked change in typical behavior or personality. Appears clingy, sad, moody, angry, anxious or depressed and that mood lasts with no known cause.
  • More insecure than usual. Talks about feeling helpless, remarks about “killing myself.”
  • Sudden aversion to friends or social media. Doesn’t want to go to school.
  • Unexplained marks, cuts, bruises and scrapes. Afraid to ride the school bus.
  • Unexplained headaches or stomach aches.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Loss of clothes, school supplies, electronics, clothing, lunches, or money
  • Sudden and significant drop in grades. Difficulty focusing and concentrating.
  • Bullies siblings or younger kids.

You will probably have to ask leading questions to get your child to feel confident or safe enough to open up. Ask them about tears in clothing, missing items, mood swings, or bruises. If you’re paying attention, you’ll know if something is not quite right. If your child won’t talk to you, check with a teacher or someone else at school, who might have a clue. Subtly ask your kid’s friends what’s going on. Tell your kid that you are always there to talk, and it’s your job to help.

If you can’t get anywhere, but you suspect something is wrong, seek the help of a trained mental health professional, sooner rather than later. And get your kid the hell out of that school as soon as humanly possible.

Now, if you suspect your little angel is the bully, you need to collar that prick, as soon as possible. Bullying laws are finally beginning to pop up with zero tolerance policies, holding you as a parent legally or financially accountable. Having a child who’s thrown out of school can be socially embarrassing and financially inconvenient for you, the parent. Hopefully, you’ve taught your kids to do the right thing, and this will never be an issue. Here are a few ways to determine if your little angel is truly the prick:

  • Does your child need to feel powerful and in control?
  • Is she hot-tempered or quick to resort to aggression?
  • Does she feel she does no wrong?
  • Does she show little empathy for others’ feelings?
  • Is she aggressive toward adults?

A child with the above traits shows a high propensity to bully. The biggest red flag is if your child seems to enjoy insulting, shaming or attacking siblings or other kids.

Finster is about four inches shorter than I am today. I bumped into him purposefully outside an office building about twenty years ago, almost knocking him on his ass. Finster didn’t recognize me as I smiled back towards him, and I didn’t apologize. I felt like a bully for a moment, and I felt bad about it later. I wouldn’t do it again. But I have to admit the vindication was sweet. Guess I’m human too.

More:

http://www.thebullyproject.com/

http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/bullies-homecoming-prank-backfires-n208481

Young Love and Uncle Lou’s Fat Lip.

Mommas, don't let your boys grow up to be studly.
Mommas, don’t let your boys grow up to be studly.

My son is beginning to notice things I don’t think he’s noticed before. I’ve raised three girls, so this whole boy thing is new to me. He has especially taken a liking to some new girl at school named Thorn. I know, I know… what kind of idiot names her daughter after a prick? Granted, we’re in the south, so we do see a lot of stupid things. Thorn seems like a nice girl. Her parents smile a lot and don’t frighten me as much as parents who would name their child Thorn would. Of course, since my kid is in seventh grade, Thorn towers over him due to that strange hormonal twist that matures girls faster than boys. Fortunately, seventh grade girls don’t seem to mind. 

Most kids begin to get tight-lipped about dealings with the opposite sex during adolescence. I’m not sure if it’s due to embarrassment or if they think it’s taboo. Remembering back to my own adolescence, I think it may have been both. I do check my son’s backpack for teacher notes and test results, One day, I happened upon a letter from Thorn that was inadvertently left inside the front pocket:

Hi (…), I was wondering if you had a girlfriend. If you don’t, I wanted to know if I could be your girlfriend. I think you are really nice and cute. Love, Thorn

From what I understand from chatting with other middle schoolers, a middle school relationship is usually nothing more than a couple kids telling other middle schoolers that they’re “going out.” They never actually go out anywhere in most cases, although I have heard of some parents driving their child and his or her supposed significant other to the movies. It’s usually limited to some smiles, a love note here and there, perhaps a small gift on a birthday. In more advanced cases, they may actually hold hands in the school hallways. Adolescent hands — grotesque.

I debated bringing up the note for about a week, hoping his reply to my “So, what’s new at school?” question might lead to full disclosure. But it didn’t. One night, he was having trouble falling asleep. I asked him what was the matter. “Is something on your mind?” I asked. “Dad,” he responded, “Do you really have to take your clothes off before your first kiss with a girl?”

My heart stopped as I nearly stumbled off the small black chair behind the desk in his bedroom. “Did I just hear what I thought I heard? Did you really say something about kissing a girl with your clothes off? Where the hell would you hear something like that?” I asked. I paused and collected myself, remembering that if I embarrassed him, I may lose his trust permanently. “You know, it almost sounds like something your dumb Uncle Lou would say. First, let me address your question. No, You should never remove your clothes for anyone except yourself, and only if you’re alone to change or to shower. Got it?” I asked, hoping my words had corrected whatever strange information my little boy had uncovered.

He looked at me with his deep brown eyes. It was like he was looking through me. “But dad, they take their clothes off in the movies all the time,” he said. He was absolutely right. Yet another way the entertainment industry is destroying childhood. It’s in virtually every television show and movie. I had to think quickly to counter this one.

“No, that only happens in the movies, boy. You see, movies are kind of like dreams. You’re living and watching someone else’s weird dream. That stuff doesn’t really happen in the real world.” He remained silent. His mind was churning. “So, who told you that you were supposed to be naked for a kiss?” I asked again.

“Uncle Lou. He didn’t really say you have to be naked, but he said you should be in a bed. And kiss her with your tongue. He said you have to show a woman that you’re a real man, because they like that.”

Uncle Lou is a piece of shit bachelor who hates commitments and children, not necessarily in that order. As a matter of fact, he offers no positive contribution to society whatsoever. He’s the kind of guy who won’t keep a girlfriend because she could potentially harm his retirement plan. He’s that person who buys something online to play with it for a few weeks and returns it 24 hours before the return policy ends. Other than his being an employee of mine, I’m not really sure why I allow him to be involved in my life. But I’ll be damned if I ever leave him alone with any of my children again. I went to see Uncle Lou that night. I pounded on his trailer door. When he answered, bewildered at why I was there at midnight on a work day, I sucker punched him. I’ve never sucker punched anyone before. Never thought anyone deserved it, until now. I’ve even stripped him of his uncle title. 

This is why you need to have that talk with your sons and daughters sooner rather than later. You have no idea what kind of bullshit outside influences are imparting into their fragile little minds. If you need help getting started or which points to cover, I’ve provided the boy talk on a prior blog post along with a video. The girl talk is in my book, Diary of an Angry Father. Yes, I know it’s weird and awkward. But that’s nothing compared to the phone call I might have received from Thorn’s angry parents or the police had my boy taken Lou’s idiotic advice. The next morning, I straightened out my son and explained that kissing will expose him to hundreds of thousands of different germs and bacteria from her mouth that could potentially make him sick. Harsh? A little. True? Definitely. I then told him that being naked makes babies. What? Don’t be foolish. How do you think you got here? I recommended he just hold hands for a while. And then, if and when he ever becomes ready for the next step, whatever that is, I told him I could advise him there too. He smiled and finished his Fruit Loops.

Sexual assault and homecoming dances.

Face to face – and leave some space.

Our then 14 year-old daughter came home crying from her school’s sanctioned homecoming dance last year. She has decided to skip it this year unless something is done to make these dances less pornographic.

Homecoming, like many antiquated events we seem to accept and celebrate without question, is the tradition of welcoming back alumni. Homecoming typically includes various activities for students and alumni, which in most cases is limited to a football game and a drink special at a local haunt. Most high schools host a special homecoming dance in the autumn. Ironically, no one is really coming home to attend this dance, since alumni is typically prohibited from attending.

Knowing darn well what adolescent children are capable of during these largely unsupervised events, I attempted to circumnavigate the question in advance with an alternative family outing at exactly the same time the homecoming dance was scheduled to occur. However, something came up and my plan was foiled. Our daughter begged and pleaded to go to her school’s homecoming dance. “All her friends” were going, which was a grand total of four. The stigma of being the only friend who didn’t go to homecoming might prove to be ruinous. Nonetheless, her grades were excellent and she is a very well behaved child, so Mom and I caved.

There is a considerable financial investment involved in these school dances. By the time you splurge for a dress, matching shoes (that are worn for roughly five minutes then cast in a corner), tickets, and of course, a hair stylist and obligatory mani-pedi, you could spend well over the full price of a new iPhone, which is a much better investment in my opinion. We added to the family’s revolving debt load and followed the flock. Although she tried on a few dresses that were a bit too revealing, she opted for a more traditional dress that fell well below her knees.

Homecoming night came. Our local school rents a larger facility that can handle the large turnout. Mom and I perused the crowd as we searched for a parking spot. Apparently, much has changed since the days of my homecoming dances. Now, we’re fairly open-minded folks. But some of these girls were wearing dresses that were so short they might be considered obscene. Neither of our mommas would have let us out of the house with a dress like those. We questioned the sanity and judgment of some of the parents who were dropping their scantily dressed babies off at the curb. We walked our daughter up to the door. She found her crowd, gave mom a hug, and ran off giggling. Mom and I went home.

A few hours later, we got a phone call. “Mom, can you come get me?” She sounded distressed. We arrived to find her standing outside, alone, and in tears. We went to a diner and had a long chat about what happened.

First of all, any high school dance must have active chaperones. A chaperone’s function is to ensure the safety and orderly behavior of the participants. According to our daughter’s account, no one seemed to intervene in anything, regardless of what they saw on the dance floor.

Secondly, the young DJ opted to play the uncensored versions of the awful hip-hop songs all her classmates were into. She had never heard these versions, since we monitor what she downloads. There is a reason why music is labelled “offensive lyrics.” When you’re grown, you can listen to an infant banging pans together overlaid with some idiot spewing poorly written poetic profanities if you like. But give the kids a chance to develop a choice.

Finally, the latest trend in dancing is something known as “grinding.” As a former DJ, I can attest that it’s been around for a few decades. For the uninitiated, a boy takes his place behind a girl, with or without her permission, and puts his hands on her pelvic area. He then pulls her derriere directly to the front of his reproductive area, physically rubbing on her backside with a youthful vigor to the beat of the awful rap song that’s currently playing. Let that image settle in for a moment.

I am not looking to make my hometown anything like Elmore City, Oklahoma. I’m all about children learning to explore the real world and becoming well-informed adults. It’s a mess out there, and if you shelter them too much, the culture shock could result in a devastating bout of depression. As a civilization, we’ve got to have some ground rules. The following common-sense suggestions may help.

 

If anyone is in attendance who is under the age of 18, curb the lyrics. Radio versions of all the popular hip-hop songs are readily available on iTunes and at Amazon. It’s the same stupid song with the same lousy drum machine. Fill in your own profanities.

Dresses that are too short are inviting the attention of the wrong crowd. Free-spirited mothers need to recalibrate your judgment unless you want to be premature grandparents. Think about this, Mom — that $250,000 it costs to raise a child will most likely fall upon you.

The “grinding” thing is the main challenge. Since there is inappropriate physical contact with a child, the practice of grinding is technically sexual assault in most jurisdictions, and can be prosecuted by the state attorney whether or not you or your child files charges. The last thing you want to do is wrangle in court over this type of case with an expensive attorney during a very public trial. News headlines will read “Sexual Assault” with “grinding” buried way beneath the fold. School administrators and chaperones may also be named in the suit.

We’ve copied this article and written an accompanying letter to our school’s new principal. Hopefully, he will have the wherewithal and courage to institute changes to make this year’s homecoming dance a safer and more appropriate event.