I’d like to apologize in advance for flooding your mailbox with 2 holiday cards this year. But since I’ve never been one to check my emails constantly and reply immediately to anyone, I received this message from Shutterfly a day late and a dollar short: “We are writing to inform you of an error we have discovered with your recent Shutterfly card order. When you placed your order, you selected Rounded Corners, Pearl Shimmer Cardstock, or both. Unfortunately your order has shipped without those options. Our print facilities are working around the clock to ship your corrected order as quickly as possible.”
I’d also like to apologize to the world for the news out of Texas this week. It seems that Judge Jean Boyd, an elected official who has said she will not seek another term on the bench, ordered a 16 year old drunk driver to a posh rehab facility in California for 6 months, followed by serving 10 years on parole. Well that’s it for him right? College dreams dashed, having to attend AA meetings and be randomly tested for drugs and alcohol until he turns 26. Poor thing. All for killing 4 people and paralyzing one friend, and leaving another in a coma.
I get the outrage about his sentence, but really people is this news? Maybe the term “affluenza” is new, although I’ve heard of it before. Every time a parent runs in to rescue a child from some disaster or another, that parent is saying, “Don’t worry Johnny, We’ve got your back.” Which translates to, “Anything you do, anything at all, has no consequences whatsoever.” A parent from the Country Day School on our peninsula in NJ (called a “tony” suburb by many where brokers, bankers and hedge funders live in Stanford White clapboard mansions by the sea) once told me a story.
Her friend’s child was about to attend a pricey boarding school. The Day School stopped at 8th grade, so many students were shipped off like the British system to fend for themselves at exclusive places like St Andrews or Miss Porters. The mom with lots of time on her hands decided to purchase a condo in the same town in order to “help” that child cope with things… affluenza is when helicopter, or severe attachment parenting goes ballistic.
Extreme wealth is like adding steroids to a cocktail of adolescent rebellion. Let’s see, how can we upset our perfect parents? Shall we dress in black and cut ourselves? Maybe driving drunk will get their attention? Who knew that rehabilitating rich kids is a billion dollar industry, and unfortunately growing? When your kid can’t make it at a regular old boarding school, there’s always Rocky Mountain Academy , a therapeutic boarding school in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. The rules are strict, and the punishment is old-school hippie-based tough emotional love. Boot camps, where troubled teens face harsh treatment in the desert, and sometimes die, are for the middle-class I guess. http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2002/1014/140.html
And jail time for a juvenile offender is for the poor.
Let’s save our holiday outrage for the real crime – for the children living in poverty who make one mistake and end up in the revolving door of foster care and prison because their parents or guardians cannot afford the lawyers with a “poorfluenza” defense. For the 200,00 children, some as young as 13, who have been charged as adults in our American justice system. http://www.eji.org/childrenprison I have no sympathy at all for drunk drivers, my own foster care was a direct result of someone’s carelessness. But I cannot deny a child of any race or economic circumstance a second chance.
At our Richmond Christmas party last night, I met a rescue border collie. Lexey was starting a new life with a loving family after spending years as a service dog. While petting her, I listened to some of our Big Chill group reminisce about their close calls with the law. I’ll spare you the details, but we all grew up to be tax-paying citizens.