Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Time-out: Incarceration by Another Name Yet Still Incarceration (Help Needed!)

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.


  1. Maybe you go to timeout and your brother doesn't because you deserve it and he doesn't.

  2. 16 yr olds are too old for timeout.
    Friends of Alexis

  3. Alexis shouldn't have to go to timeout anymore. Send her to her room.

    One of Alexis' Teachers

  4. Forget timeout. Smother the little b**** with a pillow.

  5. I would love for my parents to send me to time out. It's much better to have that alone time, then having a parent constantly down your throat for the entire duration of the disagreement. You're pretty lucky they leave you alone. Plus being sent to time out in a library....... even better in my opinion. Look at the glass as half full as opposed to half empty. Consider yourself lucky that that's your punishment... sitting and reflecting on your life……… other people have it a lot worse.

  6. Hi There---I have good news for you as one of my upcoming blogs will be about the impending crises in your state of California. Your fellow blogger, James.

  7. People learn bad parenting from their parents. You are right so do not give your kids time-outs when they are 16. There are 2 parts of the bible and I must apologize for the Jewish part of the Bible with many crazy things. The Bible clearly says that if your kids are bad and you punish them and they continue to be bad, it tells you what you should specifically do. Take that child before some town's people and have them stone your child to death.

    You said "She says that he must be a very busy man and that I should not waste his time with my insignificant issues." You are smart enough to know the difference and this statement is saying that you are stupid. I am here on this blog to tell you that you are not stupid. You are not rotten and you do not have trivial tweets ("my trivial tweets.")

    Your life and how you feel is of extreme importance. Maybe you do not know it yet, but your life is the most important thing in the entire universe. I know this without any doubts. In the movie The Karate Kid, Miyagi says that there are no bad students, only bad teachers. I say that there are no bad kids, only bad parents. Here is what Kahlil Gibran says about parents and kids.

    Kahlil Gibran says, in The Prophet,

    Your children are not your children
    They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love, but not your thoughts,
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tallies with yesterday [tallies-- to make count of].