Most people wouldn't publicly discuss anything this embarrassing, but since the only people I know who will see this (except for my English teacher) are a few relatives, who, for God knows what reason other than morbid curiosity or extreme boredom, come here to read my latest rants, and who already know how odd my parents are, posting here does not equate with public discussion. Perhaps I should not feel embarrassed anyway, since it is my parents who use backward (or at least totally age-inappropriate) parenting practices. I should probably just be grateful that no one strikes my brother or me any longer, and I am grateful for that, but passively accepting other silly consequences would seem like being perfectly okay with the use of lethal injection because it is less torturous than the electric chair or the firing squad.* The bottom line here is that my parents have twin SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLDS, yet they persist in using TIME-OUTS as a form of punishment.
I could refer to my parents' use of time-out in a more inclusive sense, writing as though the practice is applied uniformly with each of my parents' offspring. Doing so would be a mockery, however; my brother is not sent to time-out. When he has a conflict with my parents, he storms out of wherever the dispute is occurring and takes refuge in his room, where he has access to his cell phone, his laptop, and all of his own books. No one stops him and tells him that he needs to spend quality time in his parents' study. My first thought is always that my brother is my parents' favorite child, which accounts for 100% of the disparity in the levying of consequences. Nevertheless, I'm getting old enough that I shouldn't be dragging out the "you like him more" card too regularly. Beyond that, I don't think that's the real reason I am sent to time-out and he isn't. I think it's a size issue. My brother is a fraction of an inch over six feet tall** and weighs only slightly less than my father. My parents probably know that if my brother chose to defy them and refuse to go to their study when told to do so, it would be a big headache for them to enforce the consequence. I'm not as big and strong as my brother, so if I refused to do what I was told, which I would never do, even my mother could easily drag me to time-out. Whatever the reasons for the discrepancy, my brother and I both have occasional conflicts with our parents. He leaves and goes to his room when things become heated. If I try to do the same, I am sent to time-out instead. (I actually have tried leaving before being ordered to time-out, and I have had no success.) Thus, I will refer to virtual spades as such in this posting and will not pretend that it is an overall family policy as opposed to one applied solely to the smaller and weaker child (who is THE SAME AGE as the larger and stronger child).
When I am in time-out, I can sometimes use one of my parents' computers, and I am allowed to read my their books. There was once a notable exception to the book access rule: my father walked in and found me reading someone's copy (I don't know which parent is the rightful owner) of The Joy of Sex. Truthfully, I wasn't reading it. I was holding it open for an hour, just waiting for one of my parents to walk in and see it in my possession. It's a heavy book even in the paperback edition, and it was uncomfortable to hold it for so long. When my dad finally walked in, he took the book away from me. He said I could read it any time I wanted as long as I was not in time-out. All I had to do was just ask for it. Sure. That's really going to happen. Actually, if I were the rotten child that others so frequently say I am, I would stroll in during one of the rare visits from my grandparents and casually say, "Dad, may I please borrow your copy of The Joy of Sex ?" but I'm really not the brat that I am so often portrayed to be. Other than The Joy of Sex, most of my parents' books are boring. I can read the Bible for only so long. If I'm not allowed to do computer research, I usually fall asleep in a recliner. Such a productive use of time!
I sometimes appeal to Judge Alex Ferrer (TV's Judge Alex, airing from 2:00 to 3:00 locally Monday through Friday on KMAX CW 31, cable channel 12) when I have problems with my parents' draconian policies. Judge Alex is often sympathetic, and I suspect he usually agrees with me, as he is a brilliant man, but he is bound by some unwritten-yet-very-real-in-his-mind code that prevents him from second-guessing another parent's rules. My mother is embarrassed by my Twitter contact with Judge Ferrer. She says that he must be a very busy man and that I should not waste his time with my insignificant issues. She need not be embarrassed: it's highly unlikely that she'll ever run into Judge Alex at a cocktail party, and even if that were to happen, he wouldn't know when he met her that she was the mother of the dreaded Alexis unless she chose to embarrass herself by telling him so. If she knew how often he took my parents' side, she would not have such a problem with my tweeting him. In any event, if I were to tweet my concerns about time-out to Judge Alex, he would either say that it was my parents' call to make, or he wouldn't respond at all. He can't respond to everything (he is a very busy man), but he supposedly reads everything tweeted to him. I don't know if he really reads everything or not. He does have a full schedule. For that matter, though he says it is he who actually tweets there, I have no way of knowing for certain that it is actually Judge Ferrer and not some random staff member who posts the tweets, though the wording does sound as though it is actually he. I continue to tweet him because no one around here listens to anything I say, except to occasionally use it against me. When I tweet Judge Alex, I can at least pretend that someone is reading it and hearing me.
For the record, I try to compensate him for the time Judge Alex spends reading my trivial tweets by getting people to watch his program. My parents sometimes watch my recorded episodes. Some of my relatives now watch. I've used clips from his show in school presentations, and some teachers and classmates are now viewers. My friends and I all record and watch daily.
Since I'm not bothering Judge Alex with this, it would be great if anyone who actually comes across this would post in the "comments" section here that sixteen-year-olds are too old for time-outs. If my parents so deperately need to be rid of me, it would be nice if they could send me to my own room.
* I've read about a murderer named Gary Gilmore, who was executed in Utah in the 1970's. He actually chose a firing squad as his method of execution over more humane forms of capital punishment. Some people -- even taking into account status as a convicted murderer -- are too strange for words.
** We must not forget the fraction of an inch when reporting my brother's height.