“Teenage stupidity is magical. At that age, you’re so dumb that you may think you know you’re dumb, but you’re actually so ignorant (and arrogant) that you think you’re smart and wise for knowing you’re dumb. In reality, you’re just dumb. Take away the recursive loop of delusion and any sense of how wise you are even though you’re so young that your pubes still have that new pube smell, and the truth is all that remains: You Are Dumb.”
An actual conversation I had last week.
“Jerry? Can you tell me why you chased those boys, in the washroom, around with your penis?”
“Because I like my privacy!”
“Uh… but wouldn’t taking your pants down and running after people be the opposite of privacy?”
With a huge eye roll and an exasperated sigh “If I chase them with my penis they’ll leave the bathroom!”
“Ah. OK. So, uh, then why did you grab Stewie’s hand and make him touch your penis?”
“Because chasing him wasn’t working.”
Not as funny or as elaborate as the first practical joke post, however, as it involves the same staff members as the first one, I felt this needed to be posted as well (and I still think it’s funny as hell)
So, you may have read about the overnight guy at my old group home. My coworker, Peaches, and I really liked the guy, but he was kind of naive and really earnest. As mentioned in the previous post, the overnight had a number of responsibilities in the home, cooking, cleaning and paperwork, etc… One of his other jobs was to check on the kids once an hour throughout the night. This is not an easy job. I’ve been an overnight guy and it’s amazingly easy to fall asleep and miss your checks. So, to help keep the overnight awake, he needed to call the supervisor’s voicemail and leave a message. The message needed to have the time of the call and report where the residents were (if one was not there, this would be mentioned in each message) and if all was well in the home. We devised a second practical joke; Peaches made it clear to me that if we were going to do this, I’d have to be the one to sell him on it. I agreed. Here’s the set up. Our supervisor was a very very happy lady. She was always quick to laugh and always pleasant. She had a habit of referring to the kids in the house as “little monkeys” and sometimes the staff as well.
Do you like practical jokes? Me too. Sort of. In theory they are great and can be a lot of fun. In practice you really run the risk of hurting someone, physically or mentally. I’m not a big practical joker, I verbally make fun of people instead. That being said, on one memorable occasion a coworker and I decided to set up a prank and it went off without a hitch and still makes me smile, ten years later.
Peaches and I worked together in a group home. We usually had six teens living there at a time. We were an emergency home, meaning that we could take last minute admissions and deal with some of the crazier teen behaviours out there. Because an admission could come at any time and because we were also back up to other houses in our agency, we had two people on overnights. Peaches was the resident, meaning that she slept at the home, and there was an awake overnight staff – the awake. A big part of the awake’s job was to get things ready for the next day and help maintain the house. They’d have to clean, do some paperwork, get lunches ready for school, stay up with kids who weren’t sleeping. We’d often leave a to do list for the awake because there was almost always a lot to do and we really needed the stuff to get done.
One evening as we were getting the list ready, Peaches and I realized that there was not a tonne to do and began throwing around ideas for really stupid shit that we could ask the awake to do. Now, here, you’ll need a little bit of background. I love party mix. Peaches also likes it, but not all of it. She likes the pretzels and spends all the time we snacked on it, picking the pretzels out. Peaches would add party mix to our grocery order so that she and I could snack at night. So, while snacking and trying to get at just the pretzels, we decided to ask the overnight to take all the pretzels out of a bag of party mix. After we stopped laughing about how stupid that would be, we spent some time trying to figure out how we could possibly get him to do it.
Here’s what I came up with. We had a new admission in that the overnight had not met yet. The story was that this kid had a very, very mild peanut allergy (this a full on fabrication). Nothing life threatening, more like a cat allergy. I explained to Peaches that we should tell the awake that the party mix is peanut free, mostly, but that the pretzels, because of how they are made, have small traces of peanut oil (so much bullshit). Because of this trace amount of peanut oil we were going to need him to remove the pretzels from the party mix so that our new kid would be able to have some tomorrow during movie night. We ran the story by a staff member from another house, who’d stopped by for a smoke (kids were already in bed). She nearly peed laughing and told us it’d never work. I was inclined to agree with her and even though I’d come up with the reason for the pretzel separation, I couldn’t keep a straight face to save my life. Peaches thought we should try it. I agreed but only if she be the one to deliver the message to the awake. While we were still giggling to ourselves, the visiting staff called another staff who’s shift was ending and told them to come over to watch. I couldn’t stop giggling, even at the prospect of trying to get away with this.
So, the awake arrived. I could barely look at him. Peaches greeted him and started filling him on the shift that we’d just finished. As she kept talking I was able to compose myself and join them in the office. Peaches was delivering the shift change and the other two staff were seated off to one side. The were silent and leaning forward in their seats as if they were watching playoff hockey. I don’t even think they were breathing, waiting for the to do list. I paced. I looked at files and avoided eye contact with the overnight. And then Peaches started to explained the party mix problem. Peaches did it with a straight face, barely. She told me later that I, standing behind the overnight, nearly made her lose it because I couldn’t keep a straight face.
He took notes. I swear to god he took notes. When we got to the part about how we couldn’t take any chances with a peanut allergy, he nodded earnestly. In fact, earnest is exactly how I would have described the awake, even if we hadn’t tried this on him. To his credit, he did briefly look a little confused and a little incredulous, briefly. I did manage to join in to the conversation a bit without losing my mind. Peaches and I sold it. We really did. He took his notes and agreed to take the pretzels out of the party mix. I nearly lost it again, as I was coming in from a smoke, because he showed me a large bowl and asked me if I thought it’d be ok to put the pretzels in.
Two things absolutely make this story for me.
1. Peaches told me that she woke up in the middle of the night. Her room shared a wall with the office. In the dark she could her the snack bag crinkle and then a ‘tink’ sound as the awake dropped a pretzel into the bowl. She told me that occasionally she heard a crunch crunch crunch as he ate one.
2. Peaches showed me the bowl of pretzels and a large ziplock bag of pretzel-less party mix that the awake had labelled “Joe’s Party Mix”.
Yes, it was kind of mean-ish. I’d fucking hate if I was the guy who fell for it, but I’m really glad he did. I’m proud and not proud of it. I do see the mean of it but I also see the funny and I know that Peaches and I were never mean, so that makes it ok, right?
A letter, to me, from a very angry 6 year old who attends the school where I work. The greatest thing is that at least she’s writing.
So, as I’ve mentioned, I used to work in a residential group home for teens. Most of the teens were there due to some sort of behaviour difficulty at home and in some cases (probably more than we ever knew at the time) for mental health problems.
On a fairly regularly basis some of the kids who lived there wanted to leave. We used to work with a level system; if you had a high enough level, you could plan an outing and go out in the community. Not high enough? No outing without supervision. Not every one liked this little system and they would often choose to leave the house anyway. We called this going AWOL (not like that fucking Project AWOL shit I’m sure you’ve all heard about/from.)
So, when a kid went AWOL, there was a fair amount of paper work involved and phone calls to make. We needed to notify our supervisor, their social worker and in many cases their family. If they didn’t return before curfew we needed to also notify the police and file a missing persons’ report (as well as fill out the police report which we had copies of, courtesy of the police).
So, generally, for the kids it was pretty simple. They would let us know that they intended to leave, we’d try to talk them out of it, or at least find out why they wanted to leave. Then, if they were calm, we’d open the shoe cupboard, give them their shoes and let them leave. I loved the shoe cupboard. You see, we needed to know when the kids went AWOL and if they needed to ask for their shoes before they left then we’d know about it. The other thing that I loved was the need for the kids to be calm. The idea was, we didn’t want to unleash angry teens, with behaviour issues, on the unsuspecting suburbs. Calm can mean a great many things. Mostly, as long as they weren’t being aggressive or overly abusive towards the staff or their peers, we would let them go. Sometimes we’d really stretch the bounds of what it means to be calm.
A lot of times when working with kids and even parenting, you need to pick your battles. You can push some kids pretty far before they snap and some you can look at funny and it’s over. On one very memorable occasion my coworker, Peaches, and I decided that we needed to make going AWOL a bit of a chore. In this case and with that kid we were able to stretch things to ridiculous lengths without breaking anything.
Cody wanted to go AWOL. He’d been doing it on a pretty regular basis recently and was never a problem about it. He was good natured and generally a bit dim. OK he was a lot dim. His stand out quality was that he was pretty good natured and he had a pretty decent relationship with Peaches and I. Peaches and I had talked about his inevitable request to leave and decided that we’d try very hard to keep him home. It was a slow day and we had low numbers in the house and were pretty sure that the other kids wouldn’t interfere with our shenanigans. When Cody asked to leave and wouldn’t be talked out of it, we told him that we were getting really tired of filling out all the paperwork for his AWOL’s and making all the phone calls we had to make. We then informed him that he’d need to make the phone calls for us and would need to help us with our paper work. He was not happy about this but remained pretty calm about it. He did at one point loudly swear in frustration. As soon as the lid “Fuck!” was out of his mouth, Peaches casually informed him that he didn’t seem calm enough to go AWOL and as per our AWOL “routine” he’d need to go up to his room and remain calm for 30min (up to an hour depending on how upset or angry they were). On his way up there was more swearing and he punched a wall, at which point the 30min became an hour.
An hour later, without incident, Cody asked to go AWOL and stated that he would call his mom and his social worker before he left. We reminded him of the paper work too. He told me to “Fuck the paperwork.” Peaches let him know that swearing was not calm behaviour and he’d need to wait another 30min. To his credit, Cody did not snap. We were pretty sure, ahead of time, that he wouldn’t or we would never have pushed it as we did. Cody managed to leave voice messages for his mom and for his social worker, letting them know that he was going AWOL but that he’d be back by curfew (11pm). Once the calls were made, low on patience, Cody asked “Now can I have my fucking shoes?”
“Sure, once you wait 30min to calm down. If you’re swearing at us, you’re not calm.” I replied. He hung his head and went to his room. Most other kids would have tried to kill us by this point but Cody really did manage to stay calm and put up with our bullshit.
When Cody came back downstairs we began a sort of interview process with him, asking him questions so that we could fill out the various bits of paperwork for his AWOL. When we asked him what he was wearing, so that we could write it down on the missing persons’ report, Cody loudly asked “Do you want me to draw you a fucking picture?! You can see what I’m wearing!” Without being asked to, he went back to his room to wait 30min because swearing is not calm. He left with a bit of a smile on his face, realizing how funny this really was and that we were basically fucking with him because we didn’t want him to leave. We’d told him as much several times, but no it was sinking in.
When he was allowed back down, Peaches had lain out a huge length of brown paper, the kind that comes in huge rolls and gets used for arts and crafts in schools. When he asked what it was for, Peaches explained that it was for the picture he was going to draw, to be included with the missing persons’ report. We told him that the bigger the picture, the more detailed it would be and the better it would be for the police. One of the girls who lived in the house had been sort of watching everything burst out laughing and couldn’t stop. This got Cody going as well. Through her laughter she told Cody that if he laid down she would trace his outline so that it would be easier to draw himself. He agreed. This sent Peaches and I over the edge and laughter ensued. We tried to point out to Cody that he was not going to have this much fun wherever he was going and that he should just stay home. He politely declined.
As Cody finished colouring in his self portrait, he began to pick at a scad on one of his knuckles. He’d skinned it earlier when he punched the wall. He then smeared a bit of blood on the drawing, on the hand that he’d hurt. He told us that if the police wanted a description they’d want to know about any injuries as well. He said this in the most sincere manner ever. At that, we asked again if he’d reconsider, and of course he declined. I unlocked the cupboard and gave him his shoes. As he left he assured us that we didn’t need to worry about him and that he’d be home before curfew.
Peaches and I had incredible amounts of fun together, but this one stands out in the top five.
Low hanging pants. I don’t get it and I don’t think that I ever will. And that’s ok. I see the guys walking around the mall with their pants at the mid thigh, being held there by a belt and I get to gaze upon their boxers (and on one notable occasion, his tight whities – I think he missed the point more than I do). I’ve come to terms with it. I accept that this is a fashion thing and that I’m going to keep seeing it.
So the fam and I are on a little ski vacation for march break. At the hill yesterday there were a great many snowboarders and the wife and I noticed a strange thing: snow pants, ski pants (whatever you want to call them) being worn baggy enough to fit two people and literally at knee height, held there by really long suspenders. I’m not stupid enough to think that fashion and function always see eye to eye, but what the fuck?! Ski pants are used to keep you warm and dry. This is Canada and though we do not all live in igloos, it can get fucking cold. Colder still when you’re whipping down a mountain. How do snow pants at knee level help in anyway? Is there some sort of snowboarding aerodynamics that us skiers just wouldn’t understand? Listen, I’ve snowboarded, and loved it, but I can’t imagine any way that pants around my knees would help. I’ve actually goggled this and discovered that often snowboarders wear baggier clothes in order to have a full range of motion for tricks and shit. I can get behind that, but pants around your knees is not baggy. It’s stupid.
Now, when I was a teen, I wanted to ski wearing my jeans. I wanted to forego the use of my snow pants all together. Why? Well, the snow/ski pants at the time were either fancy tight ones that looked a bit like bell bottoms, but were cool as hell and the other kind that were Michelin Tire Guy puffy. My parents did not provide me with the cool skinny ones (and I apparently saw no reason to pay for them myself) leaving me with the puffy pants, that I hated. They were not cool. So, in my teenage wisdom, I’d look cool skiing in my jeans. I, and many of my friends, froze out balls off in order to not wear puffy snow pants.
I guess my real question for snowboarding guy is: Are there no other options? I wanted the skinny pants and avoided the puffy pants. You have what I can only assume are cool-guy snowboard pants and then using giant suspenders, lets just say it – clown suspenders, hang them at your knees. There must be some middle ground.
Then there’s your coat/jacket/hoodie. It’s crazy long. Like, hangs down to your knees long. It looks to me (the bewildered observer) that you’re trying to keep your ass warm and dry. Why? Because your pants are down around your knees and it’s fucking cold out!
I feel like an old man now. I would have raged against the stupidity of my younger self as much as I am confused by you, snowboard guy. I feel that I have taken into account that fashion and function don’t always meet, I feel that I have made allowances for some sort of generational thing that I, the old man, can not understand and still I judge you. You look like a fuckin’ tool.
If you’ve read either “What the fuck’s my problem?” or “What the fuck’s my problem? (again)” posts, you know that I’m a parent to an 11 year old girl and that sometimes we struggle. We’re both a little to reactive at times and stubborn and the kid HATES to be wrong. It’s not that she so much wants to be right, it just upsets her to know that she’s wrong. I’d like to share with you something I received from the kid, a few weeks ago, after a particularly challenging parent child moment (this means that she was probably being a bit of an asshole and then I responded in kind).
No matter how angry and frustrated I get with her (a lot), it’s this shit that reminds me that she is wonderful (and not really an asshole). She melts me. When I think about how hard parenting is (really fucking hard), I always have to remember that there are so many amazing things going on and that they outweigh the shitty stuff. I didn’t feel prepared to be a parent when she was born and to be honest, at some point every day I don’t feel prepared to be a parent. That’s totally ok. I’m pretty sure the kid isn’t always prepared to be parented either.