This week I’ve added something to the list of things I tell my three teen boys to never do ever.
We all have these lists, right? To work, they’ve got to be pretty short, and they’ve got to be distinctly different from the things we just tell them never to do.
For example, over the years, I’ve told my boys never to swear, never to fight each other, never to talk back to their mother, never to eat in the white chair in the living room, and never to borrow my socks and T-shirts without asking.
They agree to all of these things in principle, but sometimes in the heat of the moment they break the rules and suffer the consequences.
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And truth be told, the consequences aren’t so great that they live in constant fear of breaking these rules again.
But the “never do ever” list includes things that can flat-out ruin their lives.
Two of these involve driving:
▪ Never text and drive ever.
▪ Never drink and drive ever.
The things on the “never do ever list” have the potential to claim lives, land them in prison and destroy their future life plans.
I know what to put on the list, of course, because I was young once, too.
When I was 17, cellphones didn’t exist, but alcohol sure did. And drinking was at the top of the “never do ever” list I received from my parents.
I did it anyway, and I got in situations where I should have called my parents, told them what I’d been doing and asked them to come get me. But because I’d done something I was supposed to never do ever, I figured I’d reached the point of no return, so I did more stupid stuff, like sometimes driving when I shouldn’t.
That’s why I now tell my teen boys, “You shouldn’t drink alcohol and I hope you don’t, but I want you to promise me that if you do drink, you’ll never drink and drive or ride with someone that’s been drinking – ever – and that you’ll call me to come get you. Believe me, I’ll understand.”
So that’s how the “never do ever” list works. And like I said, I’ve added something new to it.
Maybe you heard the story this week of Dante Harris, who graduated from Columbus High School in 2014 despite being abandoned by his parents and homeless for most of his senior year.
The aunt of one of his basketball teammates helped him finish high school and get a $70,000 military scholarship at the University of North Georgia.
In November, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Harris was in a campus bathroom when he saw one of his military instructors, a retired major, standing at a urinal with his shorts down and his buttocks exposed.
On Friday, Harris told the Ledger-Enquirer’s Chuck Williams that he’d initially thought the scene was funny. He took a picture with his cell phone and sent it to three friends, who shared it with hundreds of others.
Harris was arrested and charged with unlawful eavesdropping or surveillance, a felony, and transmission of photography depicting nudity, a misdemeanor. If convicted, he faces up to six years in prison and a fine of more than $50,000.
He was initially suspended from school for four semesters but a review panel has recommended the suspension be reduced to two semesters. He’s not sure about his scholarship.
“I have learned a huge lesson,” he told Williams.
What seemed like a joke is now a nightmare.
Today, I’m asking my own sons to never use their cellphones in a public restroom or locker room.