Truancy Court

buellerMy son is NOT Ferris Bueller. He doesn’t have the tools to be Ferris. The fashion sense. The technology. The balls to steal a car. The girl willing to ditch with him. And he’s so far from being suave it’s almost painful. His nickname is Kram for a reason (yes, that’s Mark backwards—because that’s how he signed all his artwork/homework in kindergarten). He really isn’t Bueller…

But you’d think he was.

You’d think he knew how to rig a stereo to make me believe he was in bed. You’d think he had hi-jacked a parade and impersonated a principal. You’d think he cruised in a borrowed vehicle, with a hot chick, and fooled everyone except his sister.

But he didn’t.

He was sick. Really.

You see, I’m a little miffed. Which, of course, means you get to hear about it. Kram has had a rough year. His parents went their separate ways in 2008, and just as he was getting used to the idea that he had to split his time between two houses, his rotten mother up and moved him across country. Now, as any of you that follow me on Twitter know, I bring him back to Wisconsin for regular visits. But it’s still tough to be a kid without your dad handy. Especially a boy hitting puberty. Especially a boy hitting puberty with a nervous stomach.

See, Kram doesn’t always let you know when something is bothering him. Sometimes he just swallows it down, forgetting that it’s actually an ugly horned monster with tentacles poised to attack your guts from the inside out. He didn’t miss any school to go to Wisconsin that wasn’t pre-approved. The days he missed with notes sent in, he was sick. In bed, on the couch, whatever. The kid was sick.

Maybe they’re used to slacker parents. Maybe they think he’s running around town. But in this house, if you’re sick then you’re sick. And you’re sick for the whole day. None of this “all better at 3:15 crap”—oh no, oh hell no—if you had plans, they’re done. I’ll send you to school with any symptoms I cannot see and/or measure… period. Blood, puke and fever are the only things that will get you out of school in this house. I do this to prove a point, to teach a lesson, and to prepare them for the real world where dayquil rules and fridays rock. You don’t slack just to slack. And apparently it was a good rule, because I will be able to say to the judge with a straight face, “he was puking, bleeding or had a fever.”

Yes, judge.

I get to go to truancy court today.

Seems children are only allowed to be sick so many times a year, because the school board and nature have a deal worked out or some crap. After that, a doctor’s note is required to prove the child was sick and not just skipping. If the kid is sick, he’s sick. If he’s upset about his dad and throwing up, I’m not sending him to school. If he has a cold with a fever, the school will send him right home—guess what, I’m not sending him to school.

And apparently, nature and I aren’t on speaking terms.

So yes, I get to go to truancy court. Where I will smile and be polite and explain that it’s been a rough year and he’s had a bad stomach and I’m sorry that I cannot afford to bring him to the doctor every time his nerves act up just to get a note. I don’t have insurance yet. I can’t afford that. And the doctor can’t fix it—I wouldn’t bring a broken toe in they can’t fix, why would I bring the common cold? Nor can I afford the fines they’re trying to slap me with (I pled not guilty and checked the little box that says “cannot afford fine”). I guess maybe if I tell the judge that I can afford his fine and random doctor visits as soon as I sell one of the children, he’ll comprehend “we be poor”. Six mouths is a lot to feed, monthly trips to Wisconsin cost a lot, clothes and school supplies and little things like, oh I don’t know, electricity, all pile up and cost a lot.

No, I’m not whining about being poor (though I could totally toss a “click those links and buy my books” whine here). In this economy everyone is poor (and truck problems don’t help). Plus, I just came out of a divorce which equals poorer than poor. I’ll get back on my feet. I’m not worried about that.

I’m worried about the kids that are skipping school to smoke pot. I’m worried about the kids that are skipping school to steal things. I’m worried about the kids that are skipping school and writing their own notes. And I’m wondering why the hell I send notes, call the school, the teachers, the councilor and the principal to get help with Kram with this year, and am rewarded with truancy court. Did he miss school? Yes, yes he did. I sent a note. He made up his work. And it was not, as the papers say, “willingly allowing an unlawful absence.”

I’m worried that I won’t hold my tongue in front of a judge. Although his assistant sounded really nice when I called to change the court date. It was initially set for after the kids are back in Wisconsin and he wouldn’t be able to appear. Hmmm… court ordered appearance vs. court ordered child visitation. I asked her which one I should ignore.

So, while my son has actually missed some school this year, he has not been in any parades or gone to any museums on a whim. He’s not Ferris. He’s just Kram. And yes, he’ll be fine. Thanks for asking, school board of soullessness…

2 Responses to Truancy Court

  • paula says:

    Good Luck!

  • Kelli says:

    snagged from the keenedom before the explosion:


    As someone who has just recently experienced the insanity that is known as “Clan Owen-Ford” I would like to say that while there are many things going on in PA that could be considered by the mainstream public as a tad offensive. ( I refer to the GranMa in her SUV that Bob so eloquently placated.) I don’t believe that anyone could accuse you or Bob of child neglect, or lack of responsible behavior.

    You and Bob have created quite a bubble of openess and comfort with a dash of madness thrown in for good measure which should be commended and respected in this day and age. There is a healthy openess to just about everything and when things of an Adult Importance need to be discussed the kids are usually off tyring to set something on fire. (Ok, that part is not true… The fire part.)

    I would love to be in court with you today to observe the extreme effort you are going to have to show in order to NOT ridp this truancy court judge a new breathing oriffice on the side of his neck. (I will pay to have Bob tape the entire farce of this particular judiciary process.)

    Best of luck to you and your family.

    I suspect it has less to do with you specifically, Kelli, and more to do with the fact that the high school dropout rate is now something like 1 in every 3 American teens, which is atrocious. I do, however, feel your pain. My sister was a huge pain in the ass when she was in high school and on more than one occasion did my mom have to deal with these truant officers.

    Chin up…someday your kids will be done with high school and onto college to give you all new levels of grief

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