Now, I've met most of the members of the cross country team and they're pretty good kids. Most of them are getting good grades, they take care of their bodies, and they're generally pretty moral group. So, when my son came home with his news last night, I was shocked at first. "Mom, I got some peer pressure for the first time today." Oh no! Drugs? Sex? WHAT?! Have I mentioned that my oldest ALWAYS picks the worst possible moment for these kind of talks? I have a hungry, tired little guy screaming about how the color of his crayon isn't the right green (he's got a giant shoe box of crayons - geez!) I'm trying to cook dinner. The phone is ringing. And my lovely husband, who stubbed his toe TWO WEEKS AGO is limping around the house and actually whining (can you say "attention-seeking"?)
I turn off the stove, let the answering machine get the phone call, and direct my husband to gimp into the living room and pull all of the green crayons from the box for little guy - hey, he was just in the way and this way he will have someone to whine at who might listen to his tale of woe*.OK, full attention on the teen... "So, what's up?" He looks at me very seriously. I can tell this is going to be one of those times when I have to keep my head on straight and really think about my next move. The look on his face scared me to death!
"You know the kid I usually ride home with, John?" Yeah... "Well, see there was this assembly at school on Monday." Um, okay... "Well, I know you said I couldn't do it, so I stayed in the library, but John went and..." Wait. What assembly did I say you couldn't go to? "You know, that letter you wrote to the school?"
Aha!That letter I wrote was back on the first day of school. You know how they come home with a stack of paper a mile high for parents to sign. They're usually permission to watch films, or pieces of paper promising not to sue if my child becomes lost on a field trip... In little, tiny lettering on the back and in the middle of a list of typical attendance rules that most people give a quick scan and then toss on a pile of papers to look at later, I noticed this:
"The No Child Left Behind Act... requires schools to permit military recruiters to obtain students' contact information and other access to the student, if the school provides that information to universities or employers, unless the students opt out of giving military recruiters access."So, I got out my pen and basically write that I do NOT give permission to the school to release my son's information to military recruiters, nor do I give the school permission to send him to a school assembly or any other function where he will be in contact with recruiters. This may seem a little harsh, but 1) I don't want my kid being sent to fight a war over some stupid commodity so the rich can get richer and 2) I've heard how these guys work, at least around here.
A mom I know called me last year about this time, steaming mad. She had just received a letter from the Army letting her know that her 14 year-old pledged to enter the military right after he graduated. She was freaking out! She asked her kid why he would do something like that. Know why? The recruiter were giving out really cool dog tags to everyone who signed up for "more information". Everyone was getting these things and he wanted t have them, too. Plus, he might win a brand new PS3!!! But from the letter my friend had in her hand, it sounded as if there's be a van at their front door the day after graduation to pick the kid up for boot camp. So, you see why it is so important to me that MY kid not be exposed to all of these "promises" of winning cool prizes, seeing the world, and getting a free ride through college.
It turns out that there had been some talk among the kids about the military and getting some cool stuff for signing up for "more information". My son's ride home had thought it over and decided he wanted to go over and sign up and asked my son if he wanted to, also. At first, my son laughed it off. But, when he realized that this boy was serious, he started feeling the pressure. "Why not? Don't you care about our country?" and all of that kind of stuff got thrown at him. My son took the one out I've always told him works: "My mom would kill me!" It worked. This kid understood the pissed-off mom excuse.
So, we've had our first "peer pressure" incident and he came out unscathed. I explained to him why I didn't want him signing anythingI hated the idea. BUT, I wanted him to see what the other kids were doing. It would have been unfair of me to keep him from that just because of my opinions of schools. Turns out it was a good decision for him - he's the type of learner who does well in a classroom. If he wanted to join the military, I'd only want to make sure he knew ALL of the facts and had a good personal reason for wanting to do so. (I can't promise I wouldn't try to talk him out of it, though!)
*Look, the guy has been seen running to catch one of his friends who was pulling out of the parking lot. His toe doesn't hurt that badly. He just realized he was getting to lay around and watch TV and take naps whenever he wanted while I took care of everything else.)